Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Mike & Friends Blog

Donna Smith

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

October 28th, 2009 9:08 PM

Single Payer State Option Threatened in House

When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces the healthcare bill she plans to bring to the floor Thursday, will it still have the amendment that allows individual states the option of bypassing legal barriers to pass state single payer bills?

Apparently not, in the latest concession to the insurance industry, Blue Dog Democrats and other conservative interests who seem to have long held the whip hand on healthcare reform.

In July, the House Labor and Education Committee approved an amendment introduced by Rep. Dennis Kucinich that would exempt states that enact Medicare for all/single payer bills from the onerous limitations contained in the federal ERISA law governing employer sponsored health plans.

Since then a rogues gallery of Fortune 500 corporate interests and insurance lobbyists have put a lot of pressure on the House leadership to strip the Kucinich amendment from final bill going to the House floor.

Obviously these interests, especially the healthcare industry which has topped all others in federal lobbying the past decade, have a lot of sway on Capitol Hill (see the Senator from Aetna, Joe Lieberman).

Your voices are needed now to call the House leaders, Speaker Pelosi, and Reps. George Miller and Henry Waxman, floor managers for health care reform in the House. The message is simple: Keep the Kucinich Amendment!

Here's where to call:

• Speaker Nancy Pelosi: DC (202) 225.4965 - SF (415) 556.4862
• Representative George Miller: DC (202) 225.2095 - Concord (925) 602.1880
• Representative Henry Waxman: DC (202) 225.3976 - LA (323) 651.1040

Why does this amendment matter?

1- Even many progressive proponents of the majority bills coming out of the House and Senate will readily concede that those bills are flawed, at best, and fall short of reigning in the main source of our national healthcare crisis.

Here's California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro on Countdown with Keith Olbermann Tuesday night discussing the genesis of waste and fraud in our healthcare system – the system that profits from patient pain and suffering.

2- Protecting the ability of states which have vibrant single payer movements, including California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, and others to enact single payer bills has been the strongest incentive for many of the thousands of grassroots single payer activists across the nation to continue to support bills that have been steadily watered down to please the healthcare industry and conservatives.

3- Passing the main bill with the Kucinich amendment, especially coupled with a big vote for the amendment by Rep. Anthony Weiner to replace the main bill with a Medicare for all bill, would be the single strongest message the House could send to the insurance industry -- as well as to the White House and Senate in advance of negotiations on the conference committee version of a merged Senate and House bill.

4- How can anyone tout bills to protect the rights of states to opt out or even opt-in on a public option while denying the right or ability of states to opt for more comprehensive reform? Or are the compromises and concessions are only allowed to go in one direction.

Ultimately, a lot of people who have worked for many years for genuine healthcare reform will have to admit that the bills in their present form are not it.

Yes, they do provide subsidies or tax credits for a number of the presently uninsured to buy private health insurance, and put some long overdue restraints on the ability of big insurers to refuse to sell policies to people with pre-existing conditions and rescind coverage for people after they become sick.

But in exchange, the insurers benefit from a massive public bailout in both the subsidies and a new law forcing everyone to buy private insurance, coupled with only limited provisions to contain costs, especially with the many compromises made with the insurance and drug cartels. And no genuinely effective means to stop the disgraceful practice of insurers refusing to authorize needed medical treatment or denying payment for claims for tens of millions of their members.

The result will be fewer uninsured. But insurance premiums, deductibles, co-pays, co-insurance and other fees will continue to skyrocket threatening more people with medical bill-induced bankruptcies and encouraging more people to skip needed medical care because of the cost. And people who are forced to buy insurance will continue to see their urgent appeals for help stamped "denied" when they most need it.

That's the importance of the Kucinich amendment. It provides a vehicle for nurses, doctors, and other grassroots healthcare activists to carry the fight for the reform almost everyone knows is the best option to state capitols, and establish an alternative model that can be copied by other states, and ultimately Washington.

That is, of course, exactly how a national, single payer system was enacted in Canada. First in one province, and when others saw what they could have, the nation.

The Canadian system is under continual attack by the right, and does have problems, especially in adequate funding. But no one is denied care based on ability to pay. In almost all essential patient outcomes Canada surpasses the U.S. Administrative waste and cost is only a fraction of ours. And the founder of Canadian Medicare, Tommy Douglas, was voted the greatest Canadian in their history.

That's why the majority of the nation's hands-on front line nurses and doctors have long supported single payer, and expanded and updated Medicare for all. Tell our representatives not to close that door now.

Donna Smith is a community organizer for the California Nurses Association and National Co-Chair for the Progressive Democrats of America

You must log in to comment.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Log in | Register

My father, Francis (Frank) Moore, passed away this morning a few months shy if his 93rd birthday. He was a great dad I am blessed to have had him in my life. I...

Apr 20th
2:58 AM
Read More

Time to put the cuffs on Chris Christie -- not for the bridge scandal, but for this: Chris Christie's $300m pension proposal broke state anti-corruption...

Apr 18th
7:31 PM
Read More

George W. Bush Debuts New Paintings Of Dogs, Friends, Ghost Of Iraqi Child That Follows Him... www.theonion.com President Bush has a new hobby -- painting! --...

Apr 17th
7:28 PM
Read More

Big new story from David Sirota and Pando on top Christie adviser and appearance of corruption at New Jersey's pension fund: REVEALED: Gov....

Apr 17th
12:41 PM
Read More

FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States www.theonion.com WASHINGTON—The FBI announced today that it has uncovered a...

Apr 15th
3:28 PM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel's top donor bought stock in Marriott just before it was awarded huge contract pando.com As schools are closed and pensions cut,...

Apr 9th
2:00 PM
Read More

I'll be at First Time Fest today in New York City at the screening of my first film, Roger & Me. Loews Village 7 at 12:30 pm. Come see it on the big...

Apr 5th
9:48 AM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel cuts public pensions, diverts money to benefit campaign donors pando.com If you've read the financial news out of Chicago the last...

Apr 4th
2:19 PM
Read More

Please take a moment today to think of Casey Austin Sheehan, son of Cindy and Patrick, who was murdered by U.S. foreign policy in Sadr City, Baghdad ten years...

Apr 4th
2:00 PM
Read More

ICYMI - I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence...

Apr 3rd
7:38 PM
Read More

I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention...

Apr 2nd
8:27 PM
Read More

I am opposed to the death penalty, but to every rule there is usually an exception, and in this case I hope the criminals at General Motors will be arrested...

Apr 1st
3:55 PM
Read More

How Long Some in the US Will Survive Under New Health Law ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com Those who must access care to live and can afford it are not...

Mar 31st
10:13 PM
Read More

Last night, The Good Wife on the East Coast started 40 minutes late due to the overrun of the NCAA basketball game. If you had your DVR set for the show, you...

Mar 24th
5:41 PM
Read More

Watching films today, looking for the ones I'm going to pick for my film festival this summer. I (and a whole bunch of others!) have this thing we put on...

Mar 23rd
4:48 PM
Read More

When the U.S. Health Care System Keeps Killing, Who Cares Enough to Fight? ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com We have largely forgotten that people are at...

Mar 21st
5:56 PM
Read More

Tell the White House not to give up on Dr. Vivek Murthy's nomination as Surgeon General despite the ferocious opposition from the NRA: Don't give...

Mar 21st
5:38 PM
Read More

This criminal would never see a jail cell, nor would his cronies. In fact, they'd later be rewarded with re-election: Presidential Address on War with...

Mar 19th
9:40 PM
Read More

The crime of the century -- our invasion & slaughter in Iraq -- started 11 years ago tonite in this 7pm (ET) hour, March 19th, 2003: CNN Coverage of...

Mar 19th
9:08 PM
Read More

Washington’s Back-to-the-Future Military Policies in Africa ...by Nick Turse www.michaelmoore.com Nick Turse is an award-winning journalist, historian,...

Mar 17th
4:59 PM
Read More

"I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world." -- Tony Benn, 1925-2014 Tony Benn in 'Sicko'

Mar 14th
10:07 AM
Read More

RIP Tony Benn, one of the UK's greatest leaders: Tony Benn, veteran Labour politician, dies aged 88 www.theguardian.com Former cabinet minister died at...

Mar 14th
9:53 AM
Read More

Please read this important story from K. Ford K.: Am I the Face of the New American Middle Class? www.huffingtonpost.com I began to feel I had slipped so low...

Mar 13th
2:24 PM
Read More

Yesterday Dianne Feinstein revealed that the CIA has been spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is all about the report the committee has produced...

Mar 12th
6:48 PM
Read More

Health Care for All Colorado has brought Mercy Killers, a show written and performed by Michael Milligan about our murderous for-profit healthcare system, to...

Mar 10th
1:08 PM
Read More

Health Care Dramas that Sting and Why We Have to Watch ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com The realities Milligan has written into the show cut deep into...

Mar 10th
1:02 PM
Read More

Did you know the Lehrer Newshour on PBS has been produced for 20 years by a company owned by conservative cable billionaire John Malone? Me neither. After...

Mar 7th
8:39 PM
Read More

Mr. Obama, if int’l law is so damn crucial . . . | RootsAction.org act.rootsaction.org The Russian intervention deserves criticism. But let’s be clear. The...

Mar 6th
1:21 PM
Read More

Enron billionaire John Arnold thinks everyone should believe him when he says we've got to cut pensions because he's so incredibly rich: John...

Mar 5th
4:20 PM
Read More

Subscribe to Mike's Blog RSS

Click here to suggest an article

Mike's Blog

See More Blogs

Vew the archives

View older articles