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CALL TO ACTION! The Kucinich Amendment: Supporting True Health Care Reform, One State at a Time

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Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) — one of the very few politicians on Capitol Hill who hasn’t been bullied and/or bought-off by the insurance industry — proposed a new amendment today for single-payer health care.

The Kucinich plan would allow individual states to created single-payer health care systems even if Congress fails to create a national single-payer plan.

Why is the Kucinich Amendment Necessary and Important?

The healthcare legislation currently under consideration in Congress would prevent states from improving on what Congress creates. The Kucinich plan would change that, leaving the federal initiative as is but permitting states to do better. This battle pits states’ rights against the much less spoken of insurance company rights. And it calls the bluff of every individual or group who opposes single-payer healthcare at the federal level on the grounds that it is not “viable.” That argument would seem to provide no basis at all for denying states the right to create single-payer healthcare or any other solution they see fit. READ MORE

State by state.  That’s exactly how Canada evolved towards single-payer: one province at a time. Given the corporate-funded resistance to single-payer in Congress, the U.S. may have to follow the Canadian path.

Progressive activists in California and Pennsylvania are leading the way for single-payer systems and the Kucinich Amendment would remove the legal roadblocks they face.

Calls are urgently needed. And it’s easy, if you can get through. (BUT KEEP TRYING!) The lines have been intermittently jammed — no doubt by the millions here in American who are desperate for true health care reform, which is not being addressed in the public plan.

The fate of the Kucinich Amendment rests in the hands of Democrats on the House Education and Labor Subcommittee: Robert Andrews, Yvette Clarke, Joe Courtney, Marcia Fudge, Phil Hare, Rush Holt, Dale Kildee, Dave Loebsack, Carolyn McCarthy, Joe Sestak, John Tierney, and David Wu.

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 handYou can call the subcommittee members ALL AT ONCE and FOR FREE  here: http://tr.im/sCUD

Simply type in your phone number at the bottom and press “Start Calling,” and CauseCaller will connect you to each of the relevant offices. Please do it now! If you can’t get through, keep trying!

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handAlternately…. You can call the subcommitte members’ offices anytime at the numbers listed below. You can leave a voicemail if no one answers. If you do speak with a staffer, post a reply at democrats.com here: 

http://www.democrats.com/support-kucinich-single-payer-amendment-today

You can also urge your Senators and Representatives to support the Single Payer Health Plan (H.R. 676) by signing the petition here:

http://www.democrats.com/single-payer-petition

Democrats on the House Education and Labor Subcommittee: 

Robert Andrews (NJ01) 202-225-6501

Yvette Clarke (NY11) 202-225-6231

Joe Courtney (CT02) 202-225-2076

Marcia Fudge (OH11) 202-225-7032

Phil Hare (IL17) 202-225-5905

Rush Holt (NJ12) 202-225-5801

Dale Kildee (MI05) 202-225-3611

David Loebsack (IA02) 202-225-6576

Carolyn McCarthy (NY04) 202-225-5516

Joe Sestak (PA07) 202-225-2011

John Tierney (MA06) 202-225-8020

David Wu (OR01) 202-225-0855

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(video, above) May 2009: Congressman Kucinich exposes health care hoax

Below is the statement Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) made yesterday after the Education and Labor Committee began its markup process of HR 3200, America’s Affordable Health Choices Act:

“Medicine in the U.S. is a profit driven market commodity distributed according to the ability to pay rather than a basic human right distributed as a public service according medical need. No wonder that the United States ranks 47th in life expectancy and 23rd in infant mortality. In this profit driven, private insurance based system there are over 1400 manage care organizations and 5000 health insurance plans. We have the most expensive health care system in the world – over 16% of our GDP. Two point four trillion dollars a year goes to health spending and 1 out of every 3 dollars go to the activities of the for-profit system- for corporate profits, stock options, executive salaries, advertising, marketing, and the cost of paperwork. Yet 47 million people remain uninsured and another 50 million are underinsured. I submit that there is a direct relationship between the for-profit health care system and the uninsured and the underinsured.

“We can no longer look the other way as the uninsured and underinsured continue to grow their ranks. We cannot ignore the growing share of all bankruptcies that is attributable to medical bills – now over 60%. We can no longer live with a system that is, by most indications, among the lowest quality in the developed world. And we can’t afford the rising costs.

“Indeed, rising costs are the essence of the problem. Health care stakeholders are sinking more and more money into efforts designed to make someone else pay the bill. It is profitable to do so. Insurance companies, doctors, hospitals and patients are all fighting over who pays. But the insurance companies are winning while they focus on the stock market value, on their financial profits, on their investments in tobacco, on their strategies to restrict or deny service – which increases their profit.

“They have set up massive, redundant and highly profitable bureaucracies that deny care. When we buy their services, we don’t just pay for their infrastructure’ we also pay for a second infrastructure which results in doctors having to hire more staff to fight with insurance companies just to protect themselves.

“Consider that the growth in the number of professionals who actually deliver health care since the 1970s is under 300%. But the increase in the administrators- those who do not deliver care – is upwards of 2400%. The insurance companies have wedged themselves between the doctor and the patient. It is easy to see why our costs have spiraled out of control and the health insurance industry is consistently shown in polls to be one of the least trusted industries in America.

“There are many models of health care reform from which to choose around the world – the vast majority of which perform far better than ours. The one that has been the most tested here and abroad is single payer. Under a single payer system everyone in the U.S. would get a card that would allow access to any doctor at virtually any hospital. Doctors and hospitals would continue to be privately run, but the insurance payments would be in the public hands.

“By getting rid of the for-profit insurance companies, we can save $400 billion per year and provide coverage for all medically necessary services for everyone in the U.S. It would cost no more than we are currently paying for health care. This is the consistent conclusion in reports by the Government Accountability Office, the Congressional Budget Office, and several independent analyst organizations like the Lewin Group.

“Cost is just one of the reasons that support for single payer is growing so quickly. HR 676, The United States National Health Care Act, now boasts 85 cosponsors. It has been endorsed by over 550 union organizations, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the League of Women Voters, Consumer’s Union and deans of prominent medical schools. 59% of doctors support it, as do 60% of Americans.

“The bill we are considering today, I regret to say, is not a single payer bill. It further entrenches the existing for-profit, insurance-based system by handing even more money over to the insurance industry. It will leave 17 million Americans uninsured. It is silent on the great state experimentation, at the state level, with single payer.

“Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago once wrote, “Health care is an essential safeguard of human life and dignity and it is an obligation of society to ensure that every person has the opportunity to realize that right.” We can do better than protecting an insurance based, for-profit system that will continue to exclude millions of Americans.”

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