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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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What Do You Want: Insurance or Health Care? (they’re not the same, you know)

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Quick question:

Do you want insurance or health care for yourself and your family? Before you answer that question, make sure you understand the difference because, make no mistake: the differences are huge.  

[pssst…. Are you already in favor of true universal health care? If so, forego reading tmy long-winded post below and, instead, spend the next few minutes doing something practical, like making your voice heard. This is an urgent matter. We have now until the end of February to:

  1. Urge your representatives to please co-sponsor H.R. 676 and actively work with Congressman John Conyers, as he reintroduces the bill in the 111th Congress.  (Here’s ane easy link to contact your Representative). The bill currently has 93 co-sponsors in the House, out of the 150 needed by the end of February. 
  2. There is still no companion bill to H.R. 676 in the Senate. Urge Sen. Edward Kennedy to sponsor a companion bill to HR 676 in the Senate. (Contact Sen. Kennedy via snail mail ).  The Senate is currently proposing a healthcare reform plan that will mandate health insurance coverage for every person in the United States. Forcing people to purchase insurance would be a real boon to the for-profit insurance industry, enriching CEOs and corporations, but it does nothing to address the needs of the millions of Americans in need of health care.   
  3. Let President Obama know how many of us are in favor of true universal health care (H.R. 676) as opposed to the watered-down versions currently being offered.  (Here’s an easy link to contact Obama).
  4. Lastly, if you’re not in favor of true universal health care, do yourself and the rest of us a favor by making sure you know the facts — beyond the insurance industry’s talking points — before permanently making up your mind.  A good place to start is at the source: Congressman John Conyers, the sponsorer of this bill. Here are some FAQs, from Conyers’ website.)]

QUICK ANSWER:

Health care.

 

LONGER ANSWER:

It’s a common myth in this country that insurance = health care. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. And this truth has only grown more perverse during the 8-year orgy we’ve just suffered, as our politicians have fallen, one by one, into bed with the giants of commerce (e.g. the banking, pharmaceutical, energy, media and insurance industries, etc.). This fellowship has compelled our lawmakers to turn a blind eye to the well-being of the average American citizen, as they paid deference, instead, to those lobbyists promising the biggest contributions to their campaign coffers. We need look no further than Wall Street to see both the evidence and the repercussions of our lawmaker’s selective blindness.  

This dynamic explains, in part, why the following news gem got lost in this week’s media shuffle (falling somewhere between the lack of coverage on Israel’s war crimes and Bush’s farewell speech):

According to a study released this past Wednesday by the National Nurses Organizing Committee/California Nurses Association, the universal health care plan (H.R. 676) that’s been collecting dust in a House of Representatives subcommittee for the past 2 years holds the potential to create over 2.6 million new and permanent “shovel ready” jobs (that’s just slightly over the total number of jobs lost in 2008).

What’s more, according to this same study, H.R. 676 would provide a major stimulus for the U.S. economy — not only by creating the said-2.6 million jobs equivalent to $100 billion in wages  — but by infusing $317 billion in new business and public revenues into the economy and infusing public budgets with  $44 billion in new tax revenues. 

Sound too good to be true? The insurance industry hopes you’ll think so

See, the reasons this news about this study slipped under this week’s rader are the same reasons it has slipped under the radar since the bill was introduced in January 2007. Specifically, H.R. 676 (the only true, universal health care plan that has been proposed on Capitol Hill) designs to cut out the middle man — the for-profit insurance industry, one of the most powerful lobbies on Capitol Hill.

Make no mistake. By virtue of being a for-profit business, the insurance industry seeks to maximize profits, while minimizing expenses. And  their biggest expense, by far, is shelling out health care benefits to its members. To this end, the insurance industry fights tooth and nail against providing the very services they’re empowered to pay out: health care for its members. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the math, nor to understand that, under such a system, the for-profit insurance industry is inherently antagonistic to providing actual health care. Is it any wonder, then, that the insurance industry has also fought tooth and nail to convince us all that universal health care is the demon? And is it any wonder that so many Americans have become convinced of the horrors that would befall us all, should we be subjected to (sweet Lord, no!) guaranteed health care? 

The supporters of H.R. 676 have worked equally hard to educate the public on the benefits of a universal, single-payer health care plan. But, lacking the lobbying clout of the insurance industry, these folks can’t command the sort of power the insurance industry enjoys both on Capitol Hill and in our media. For the record, here are a few of the talking points we might have heard from the other side, regarding the benefits of universal, single-payer health care under H.R. 676: 

  • Every resident of the US will be covered from birth to death.
  • No more pre-existing conditions to be excluded from coverage.
  • No more expensive deductibles or co-pays.
  • All prescription medications will be covered.
  • All dental and eye care will be included.
  • Mental health and substance abuse care will be fully covered.(1)
  • Long term and nursing home services will be included.
  • You will always choose your own doctors and hospitals.
  • Costs of coverage will be assessed on a sliding scale basis.
  • Tremendously simplified system of medical administration
  • Total portability – your coverage not tied to any job or location.
  • Existing Medicare benefits for those over 65 will remain the same or be vastly improved in many cases.
  • No corporate bureaucrat will ever come between you and your Doctor to deny your care

 

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A CALL TO ACTION (see contacts info in steps 1 through 3 at the top of this post)

Congressman John Conyers will reintroduce HR 676, his single-payer healthcare bill in the 111th Congress. Please ask your representative to cosponsor the bill and actively work with Rep. Conyers to gain additional cosponsors. In order to ensure HR 676 is part of the healthcare discussion in Congress, we need 150 cosponsors by the end of February.

Former Sen. Tom Daschle, President-Elect Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, called for “a government-run insurance program modeled after Medicare” in testimony before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions as part of the solution to our healthcare crisis. His plan also includes health insurance corporations. Only HR 676 would implement a sustainable, fair, and efficient solution to the healthcare crisis as well as providing economic stimulus.

While single-payer healthcare proponents have made good headway in the House, there is still no companion bill in the Senate. Urge Sen. Edward Kennedy to sponsor a companion bill to HR 676 in the Senate. And, while you’re at it, be sure Obama also knows where you stand. Lastly, bookmark this page at the Healthcare NOW! site to keep updated on activist work on H.R. 676 and consider joining forces with The Citizens Alliance for National Health Insurance HR 676 to get the word out to the media on this important bill.

 

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WHO ENDORSES H.R. 676? YOU MIGHT BE SURPRISED

Along with millions of U.S. citizens from all age brackets and economic persuasions, there are (currently) 94 Representatives in the U.S. House who endorse H.R. 676, along with 480 union organizations in 49 states, including 117 Central Labor Councils, 20 international unions, plus AFL-CIO Federations in 35 states, the US Conference of Mayors, the Houses of Representatives in Kentucky, New Hampshire and New York, and hundreds more cities, counties, faith groups and medical and health care organizations that express the great hope and dire need of our people. 

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Dennis Kucinich: patriot or nut?

It depends on what (or who) you read. If you read only the talking points (propaganda) of the industry giants, you’d have little choice but to conclude he’s not only a nut, but an awfully, terribly short man, which is somewhat of a fatal flaw in our society. But if you look past his much-slandered physical stature and look into Kuchich’s body of work, reviewing the actual issues that Dennis Kucinich has consistently fought for on behalf of the American people (with many of these in defiance of the industry giants, his campaign coffers be damned), you’d be hard-pressed to not see that he’s one of Capitol Hill’s staunchest allies to the American people. A giant in his own right and, yes, an American patriot. Had there been more lawmakers like Dennis Kucinich on Capitol Hill over the past 8 years, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re now in. In the above video, the ever-foresighted Kucinich explains universal health care.