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HEALTH INSURANCE for all Americans by 2009

By admin | February 3, 2006

NEW COALITION OF 54 organizations, representing medical, labor, business, activist and faith communities from 22 states, announces campaign to provide NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE for all americans by 2009

For more information: please contact Diane Shamis 845-661-3754

On January 15, 2006, a new nationwide coalition of 54 advocacy groups from 22 states gathered in Chicago to launch a national campaign to assure equitable health care for all American citizens. The meeting was convened by Marilyn Clement, national coordinator of Healthcare-NOW, who explains, “Americans must be bold and speak out for much more than just another study commission, or President Bush’s high-deductible low quality healthcare savings accounts. We demand a quality national healthcare system that includes everyone, not the same broken system that excludes 45 million Americans who cannot afford high insurance premiums, co-pays and deductibles. The new coalition wants a national single standard of care for every person in the United States — an affordable single payer system, which will cost less money and provide more health care for everybody.”

Coalition members include steelworkers from Pittsburgh, Chicago and Nashville; a librarian from Texas; a labor organizer from Kentucky; a gubernatorial candidate from Maine, an activists with Jobs With Justice from Boston; a peace activist from Atlanta; farmers and community organizers from Alabama and Washington; activists from the United Auto Workers retirees divisions in Michigan and Delaware; a representative of Physicians for Social Responsibility from New York, a businesswoman from Illinois; Catholic, Jewish and Protestant leaders from Rochester, Pittsburgh and Chicago, a victim of healthcare cutbacks in Tennessee; leaders of the Missourians for Single Payer and many others. Each of these representatives and more are involved in organizing Citizen/Congressional Hearings in 94 cities.

“Over the past nine months, Healthcare-NOW has organized Citizen/Congressional Hearings in every corner of the nation,” said Clement of Healthcare Now, an all-volunteer agency with headquarters in New York City. “The plan is to continue these hearings calling on Members of Congress to come home to hear what their people have to say about the healthcare crisis.”

Healthcare-NOW is co-chaired by Dr. Quentin Young, National Coordinator of Physicians for a National Health Program; Leo Gerard, President of the Steelworkers, the largest industrial union in North America; and Jim Winkler, head of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society. The group supports H.R. 676, “The United States National Health Insurance Act,” a bill introduced by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) calling for greatly enhanced and improved Medicare for all Americans. The bill provides the resources needed for universal healthcare because it would eliminate the excess administration, marketing and duplication in the current profit–making industry.

“It is elemental. We must adopt basic business savvy, (1) economy of scale – we want everybody covered in the largest possible pool in order to make healthcare more affordable, and (2) we want to cut out the unnecessary middleman –the insurance companies and HMO’s whenever possible,” said business woman, Rebecca Spoon.

Joel Segal, Senior Legislative Aide to Congressman Conyers, came back to Washington, D.C. from the meeting with this message: “We now have a groundswell in the United States for national health insurance. Because people are sick and tired of being gouged by private health insurance companies. Because people are sick and tired of being uninsured and broke. Because people are sick and tired of being unable to see a doctor when they need to.

Said Dr Quentin Young, national co-chair of the campaign, “We now have 13,000 physicians, 11 national labor unions, 80 local labor unions and their affiliates, and 65 members of Congress who believe the time for universal national health insurance has come. This meeting and strategy session, this past weekend showed that people are united across the country from coast to coast behind HR 676. Congressman Conyers is dead serious about getting this bill passed, but we need a movement, like the civil rights movement, like the anti-war movement in the 1960’s if we are going to have a chance of getting this bill out of Congress.”

Coalition coordinator, Marilyn Clement, started organizing with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960’s is optimistic. She adds, “We have a feasible target date. By the end of 2009 we expect to have a National Health Security card in the hands of every person in the United States.”

Speakers at the Chicago meeting included: Michael Lighty of the California Nurses Association, which led the successful challenge to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s attempts to cut back nursing and other public services in California and defeated his recent referendums; Rick Romero, media strategist from Finis Productions in Phoenix; Kay Tillow, a Kentucky labor organizer, who has organized about 80 labor unions in support of the program, and Dr. Fergie Reid, surgeon and former elected official from Maryland. Dr. Reid led the group in planning organizing tactics and preparation for the upcoming election years, which, he states, “will be critical to winning a healthcare system that will serve everybody.” A Strategy Team of the new coalition will work out the details for the four year time-table established at the Chicago meeting.

The enthusiasm, commitment and concrete campaign plan coming out of the coalition’s meeting indicates that such a movement is gaining momentum and an expansive, growing base of support. “By the end of the Chicago meeting the new coalition was so energized that people, joined in singing movement songs in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King – who also advocated universal health care. Finally, we joined with Dr. Quentin Young in the Physicians for a National Health Program’s slogan: “Everybody in, nobody out!” Clement said.

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health
is the most shocking and the most inhumane.”
–Martin Luther King, Jr

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