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Donna Smith

Donna Smith, American SiCKO, is executive director of the Health Care for All Colorado Foundation

December 3rd, 2009 2:03 PM

History in a Number: Senate Amendment 2837

The idea of a Medicare for All type, single-payer healthcare system will be heard on the Senate floor.  Late last evening, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont filed Senate Amendment No. 2837, and there are two additional original co-sponsors of this amendment, Senator Roland Burris of Illinois and Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio.

The idea that healthcare is a basic human right that could and should be delivered to each and every person in this nation is not a new one.  Our President knows that; our Congress knows that.  But this struggle to reform the broken, profit-driven system has carried us a very long way from the spot that would allow us to finally extend that basic human right to all.

We’ve drifted off to talking about excise taxes and insurance exchanges and bending the cost curves.  Amendment 2837 brings us back to the basics.

What’s in a number?  45,000 people die every year in this nation without access to healthcare.

Medicare has its flaws, but overall it has provided seniors and the disabled with the best access to care that this nation could offer since the 1960s.  But the rest of us have not been so lucky with our access to healthcare.  Among those not covered by Medicare or the VA, the numbers of unnecessary deaths have soared; personal bankruptcies due to medical crisis have soared.

What is a number? Poverty among seniors has dropped more than 60 percent since the adoption of Medicare.

The healthcare reform effort has largely ignored the single-payer solution.  Public financing and private delivery of healthcare through a Medicare for All type system would be an elegant, cost effective and proven way to fix much of what is broken while retaining that sense of personal choice over healthcare decisions that Americans value so highly.  Yet, the discussion has been muted by the powerful profit-based insurance and health industry interests that stand to gain so very much by expanding and entrenching their hold over the U.S. healthcare system through this reform process.

What’s in a number?  Millions of Americans file for personal bankruptcy – one every 12 seconds – because medical crisis hit them too hard.  And of those bankrupt folks, two-thirds had health insurance.

We will not get to the point of granting healthcare to all during this legislative cycle.  We just won’t.  Our elected officials were less powerful than the profit-takers this time around.  And we did not make our demands loud enough and clear enough.  But we will find out in the Senate who stands for all of us and who stands for those who would profit from our continued suffering.  And we will find that out by watching and listening as Senate Amendment 2837 is considered and debated – and voted upon.

The time draws short to weigh in clearly with your Senators.  We know they will not get to the point of passing a single-payer system this time around.  But we also know they can begin setting the benchmarks for what we should do going forward.  And with a yes vote on this amendment, Senators send us the message that they heard us, that they will keep fighting with us until the day when this nation no longer leaves the weak, the sick and the poor behind in the delivery of its most basic human rights.

Call your Senators.  Tell them you want them to vote for Senators Sanders, Burris and Brown’s amendment number 2837.  Call today. Call now.  Insist on a vote for moral and fiscal sanity.  

What’s in a number?  Everything.  Senate Amendment No. 2837.   Everyone in, nobody out.

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