Americans Should Not Stand for Lock-down on Single-Payer Discussion
Source Dave Anderson
Date 09/02/07/18:26

Americans Should Not Stand for Lock-down on Single-Payer Discussion
By Laura Bonham–

AS AN ARDENT advocate of single-payer healthcare for many years, I am
more than a little frustrated by Washington insiders—beholden to
healthcare corporations—telling the American people that passing
single-payer healthcare reform, specifically HR. 676, the United
States National Health Care Act, can't happen. The fact is they are
standing in the way of it happening.

They cite specious reasons like we're an entrepreneurial nation and
need a uniquely American solution, or we can't afford it, or
single-payer won't work in the U.S. Well it works quite well in the
form of Medicare, an incredibly popular and uniquely American program.
In a nutshell, HR 676 basically improves and expands Medicare to cover

The say it can't happen because Americans don't want it. Polling
indicates otherwise; a January 30, CBS poll shows significant support:

Americans are more likely today to embrace the idea of the government
providing health insurance than they were 30 years ago.
59% say the government should provide national health insurance,
including 49% who say such insurance should cover all medical

In January 1979, four in 10 thought the federal government should
provide national insurance. Back then, more Americans thought health
insurance should be left to private enterprise.

Besides being the moral and compassionate thing to do (two values
which Americans used to embrace), single-payer healthcare makes good
business sense. In this study, research shows single-payer
healthcare/Medicare for all would:

* Create 2,613,495 million new permanent good-paying jobs
(slightly exceeding the number of jobs lost in 2008)–jobs that are not
easily shipped overseas
* Boost the economy with $317 billion in increased business and
public revenues
* Add $100 billion in employee compensation
* Infuse public budgets with $44 billion in new tax revenues

The U.S. already spends far more on healthcare than any other nation;
yet with all our power and treasure, we are the lone wealthy
industrialized nation that does not ensure healthcare for all of our
citizens. Fifty million Americans are currently uninsured, and twenty
two thousand of those Americans die every year because they do not
have access to healthcare.

Meanwhile, CEOs of healthcare corporations earn $3.3 million to $22.2
million in salary per year, paltry amounts compared to their stock
options. When a CEO earns $1.6 billion in stock options ("Business
2006: Who Won, Who Lost," Associated Press, December 2006), who loses?
The average American, that's who—the people who are dying, getting
sick from lack of preventative care, facing bankruptcy from medical
bills, losing their jobs and their homes. They are Americans who can't
afford "health insurance" and certainly can't afford large
contributions to senatorial, congressional, and presidential

These CEOs and their corporations have senators like Max Baucus (D-MT)
in their pocket. Baucus flatly refuses to even discuss single-payer as
an option. The time to take this option off the table is after an
honest debate of the pros and cons of HR 676, not before.

So why does the lock-down exist? Could it be because many members of
Congress and the Senate are dependent on healthcare corporations for
contributions to their election campaigns? HR 676 is a simple elegant
solution to what ails us. Congress appears hell-bent on creating a
complicated and convoluted program, which won't work because it
includes for-profit healthcare corporations as the centerpiece.

All evidence suggests that the majority of Americans want single-payer
healthcare, that it would be good for all businesses (with the
exception of the healthcare corporations), and that it would stimulate
the economy. HR 676, if passed, would create a far more affordable and
sustainable system than the current alternatives, which basically puts
the healthcare corporations on the public dole and includes mandates
that force people who already cannot afford insurance to buy it.

If there ever was an opportune moment for guaranteed healthcare for
all, now is that moment. Too bad our elected officials refuse to do
what they were elected to do—represent us, instead of the interests of
the very powerful and wealthy healthcare corporate lobby. Let your
member of Congress know that single-payer healthcare/Medicare for all
should, at the very least, be an option that should be discussed.
While you're at it, give Max Baucus a call.

Laura Bonham is the Deputy Director of Progressive Democrats of
America, a convening organization of the Leadership Conference for
Guaranteed Healthcare.

[View the list]

InternetBoard v1.0
Copyright (c) 1998, Joongpil Cho