News articles report that Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) has instructed the staff of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee to begin working on a comprehensive healthcare bill to be presented in the next Congress that convenes in early January.

The following letter was sent to Senator Ted Kennedy on behalf of the All Unions Committee for Single Payer Healthcare—HR 676.

We encourage all who read this to contact Senator Kennedy’s office urging him to offer single payer legislation modeled on House bill HR 676. We urge you to do this as an individual and to ask your union, or organization, to do so as well.

Please download this letter, and mail it to Senator Kennedy.

*****
November 7, 2008

Senator Ted Kennedy
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Kennedy,

We understand that you are currently working energetically on a comprehensive health care reform bill to be introduced in the new session.

There are certain junctures in history when the obstacles of the past melt in the heat of a rising popular demand for change. This is one of those times.

You once proudly described yourself as “an old single payer advocate.” We urge you to return to that vision now when your tremendous influence could make this truly just and practical plan a reality.

Please consider the simplicity, cost effectiveness and humanity of a single payer plan which could be implemented comparatively easily as was traditional Medicare. Any plan that keeps the profit-making insurance companies in the mix will add layers of bureaucracy, will not be able to control costs, and will fail in the noble effort to bring good care to all.

We ask that you introduce, in the Senate, legislation modeled on HR 676, which has now gained the support of 94 representatives in the US House, 480 union bodies, 39 state AFL-CIO’s, 117 Central Labor Councils, 20 international unions, the US Conference of Mayors, the Houses of Representatives in Kentucky, New Hampshire and New York, and hundreds more cities, counties, faith groups and organizations that express the great hope and dire need of our people.

We urge you to be our Tommy Douglas, to lead the charge for nonprofit single payer universal coverage. The people will be with you. Surely we deserve the health benefits offered to the people of every other country in the industrialized world—all medically necessary care and freedom from the fear of economic ruin due to illness. It is only by moving to single payer that we can cut the waste while expanding the care.

We must not squander the opportunity of this momentous time. With your experience and stature in Congress and the nation, you are uniquely able to ensure that generations to come will enjoy the legacy of health care as a human right. Please say “yes” to single payer.

Sincerely yours,

18 Comments

  1. Charles Fee on November 11, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    My mother has no health insurance. If she gets sick, even with something as small as a cold, our family runs the risk of defaulting on another bill just trying to pay for a doctor visit. I’m not alone with this scenario. Forget about me. For the sake of the others who struggle with this, I beg you to take this seriously.



  2. Heloise Rathbone on November 12, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    Please support the single payer healthcare plan HR676. pnhp.org has wonderful questions and answers to answer all your questions about it. We need to have everyone in the pool – the healthy and the sick, the rich and the poor. Insurance is about us all sharing the risk so that those who get sick can get the care they need. There is nothing wrong with the healthy paying for the sick if everyone does it.

    We need HR676 right now. I am on Medicare now and I am pretty health still. I dread the idea that I might need expensive medicines some day. My daughter is mentally ill and she is on Medicaid, but many doctors won’t take Medicaid because it pays too little, less than Medicare.

    Please give HR676 careful thought. I think it is what we need. Healthcare should be a human right.



  3. Terry B. Brauer on November 15, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    The opponents of single-payer … and any healthcare system, which terminates unconscionable executive compensation and profitablity, fraud, waste, and abuse … have been busy for several decades obstructing universal healthcare.

    Hgh-minded rhetoric aside, a classic confrontation between the parasites of the current non-system and … the suffering and impoverished from it … will be center stage.

    I highly recommend that everyone read the Center for Public Integrity’s publication, Well-Healed (Copyright 1994), which is online @ http://www.publicintegrity.org/assets/pdf/WELL-HEALED.pdf
    It chronicles the players and corruption, which defeated the Clinton plan.

    Fast forward to last Wednesday. One of the Big 4 CPA firms has thrown down the gauntlet with a transparent signal to its audit and accounting clients to join the frey and protect their financial interests.
    http://www.pwc.com/extweb/pwcpublications.nsf/docid/9A205B0B97EB9E50852574FE0014DE06
    Their ‘study’ will be one of many to engage more of the same in the mix.

    I highly recommend that every Member of the new Congress … and every new staffer having anything to do with healthcare policy formulation for President Obama and Vice President Biden … receive a gift-wrapped bound copy of Well-Healed between Thanksgiving and before Xmas from HealthCare Now and/or its allies. Copies will be available in bulk for purchase from the Center for Public Integrity.

    The net effect of all progressive change efforts must be to ensure transparency in the process and optimize its impact on coverage expansion at affordable costs, enhanced and consistent quality, and improved healhcare consumer safety.



  4. Time Bomb on November 19, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    Time bomb that is I. I have a port in my chest for blood draws to check the status of my transplanted kidney & pancreas functions, in addition to monthly flushing of the port. I am a ticking time bomb. If this port clots, that is instant stop of blood flow to the heart. I live in the State of Illinois where there is healthcare insurance for those who blind, 65, disabled or have children. I am not in any of those categories, so I am told. Medicare and Medicaid have denied me, and an appeal will take 2 years. I never heard of a time bomb blowing up 2 years later. I have been looking for steady full time employment for 2 years now and I even went back to school to lever my career. Employers do not understand when you have to go to doctor for labs so I can remain working for them. My last temporary position, I ended up in the emergency room with 2 strokes, Lupus, Bells Palsy and doctors found a huge lack of vitamin B in my brain. Doctors had been focusing on the parathyroid disease I seem to have developed before my trip to emergency room. Therefore, I am asking you Senator Kennedy to push forth a healthcare system that will benefit all Americans. I probably will not be around to see it due to my lack of healthcare insurance to assist me with getting this port flushed. I figure by the time you read this my port would have clotted.

    Thanks,
    Time Bomb



  5. Heather Gonzalez on November 20, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    We all deserve to have healthcare and live our lives healthyto best capability. We work all day and raise our children. We live the American dream each day and we are treated as prisoners when it comes to medical care! My husband was laid-off and we were told my $1850 a month I make is too much money for health care through the state program for my husband. I have three kids so we are a family of five! How is 1850 too much money? Can you tell me that? We barely eat on that. I do not get any assistance for anything, I am over income for everything. I was given the husky plan and my kids were. I am thankful for that, but what about the man of the house. Who are they to determine that we need it more than he does. I am luck he doens’t have any major problems, but with no coverage he hasn’t been checked. I am read about this new healthcare reform, and I think it sounds like it could be good. Maybe it will work, but we need to try something. Even if it fails, you need to fail at times to get it right. Isn’t that what we tell our children?



  6. Richard Heckler on November 22, 2008 at 11:48 am

    HR 676 is the most comprehensive health insurance coverage in the nations history. After the election citizens must force this issue.

    Support HR 676
    http://www.guaranteedhealthcare.org/legislation/hr-676-conyers/united-states-national-health-insurance-act

    Two great assets to HR 676:
    1. Everyone will receive the same quality healthcare no matter if rich,middleclass or low income.

    2. HR 676 will effectively remove medical insurance coverage from the list of special interest campaign contributors. YES!

    *Single-payer national health insurance is a system in which a public agency organizes health financing.

    *Should anyone be forced to live without medical care? No!

    *Should anyone and their families be forced to live without healthcare due to a lay off? No!

    * So many countries providing healthcare to their citizens have taken jobs away from the USA by the millions. Pakistan and India are receiving white collar USA jobs as we speak

    *Why support the healthcare system that discriminates in so many ways?

    *Shouldn’t all receive the same medical coverage no matter what? Absolutely! Instead of coverage based on what type of policy one can afford… this stinks.

    *Should employers be forced to pay for medical coverage? No!

    *Should blue and white collar workers who became victims of outsourcing be forced to live without medical coverage? No!
    http://blog.aflcio.org/2008/03/30/as-jobs-disappear-so-does-health-insurance/

    *Should soldiers come home to no healthcare for them and their families? No!

    *Should reservists who lost jobs with medical care be forced to live without medical care? No!

    *Should those with jobs yet cannot afford healthcare be forced to live without medical care? No!
    http://blog.aflcio.org/2008/03/28/got-a-job-cant-afford-health-coverage/

    *Should doctors,hospitals,clinics and emergency rooms be forced to absorb the cost of those without medical care yet do? No! These costs are likely being passed on to those to have coverage…..is this fair? No!

    Should healthCare be equal to a can of spinch on a retail shelf? No way jose’!

    National Health Insurance makes dollars and sense.



  7. Zeke on November 26, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    I don’t know how many more testimonials we need about the broken health care system in this country, but here goes. My father died 2 years ago. He had prostate cancer, but bought his meds from Canada at 1/3 the cost of American drugs. My sister has worked all of her life, the last 10 without life insurance. She refuses to get a mammogram because #1. “It costs too much!” and #2. “If they found cancer, I couldn’t afford the treatment!”. In the last few months, our government has thrown nearly$700 billion at Wall St. and maybe more at Detroit.When someone tells me that they care about health care in this country but that we cannot afford a single-payer system, I will ask them, “What part of humanity do you not understand?” Is Wall St. that much more important than my sister or father?



  8. David H Slavin PhD on December 15, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Dear Senator Kennedy

    I have been an out-of-tenure-stream history professor for 25 years. I’ve taught at 25 different colleges and universities, and only half of those years have I had health insurance. The employer-based system is increasingly anachronistic, and anything other than a single-payer system is a chance for cherry picking and off-loading the medically disadvantaged. In the 1980s I was the research director of the largest hospital workers local in the US, District 1199 Hospital Workers NYC. I noted to the executive board of the union the direction of privatization and predicted disastrous consequences. My worst case scenarios have proven accurate. We cannot allow for-profit insurance corporations to dictate medical care or to “externalize” the costs while privatizing profit. There is only one effective solution to the catastrophic state of health insurance and that is single payer. I urge you most strenuously to back HR 676 and to insure that no Republican senatorial filibuster blocks this crucial measure. It is essential to the revitalization of our health and our economy.
    thank you for your consideration
    David H Slavin, PhD. Southern Illinois University, Georgia State University depts of history
    PS I am about to lose my excellent health insurance benefits after a semester at SIU and will have to go on COBRA. Just when I can afford it least, I will be forced to spend $675 per month to make sure I don’t lose my house in case of a serious illness. Does this system make any sense?



  9. James E Vann on December 15, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Dear Senators:
    Please support HR 676, as the only, proven, least expensive method of assuring adequate health care for all.

    HR 676 is the most comprehensive health insurance coverage in the nations history. After the election, we must stand fast againt the profit-driven provider-pharaceutical-attorney lobbying complex.

    http://www.guaranteedhealthcare.org/legislation/hr-676-conyers/united-states-national-health-insurance-act

    Two great assets to HR 676:
    1. Everyone will receive the same quality healthcare no matter if rich, middle class or low income.

    2. HR 676 will effectively remove medical insurance coverage from the list of special interest campaign contributors.

    The nation needs Single-Payer National Health Insurance to provide a system in which an objective public agency organizes health financing.



  10. Andrew Seaman on December 15, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    Short and sweet: we need a single payer health system (i.e. a health system period). Please support HR 676! The only way we are going to find a true solution to the cost of healthcare is by cutting out a huge portion of the 31% of health care costs that goes to the administrative costs of private-based healthcare. I understand the political difficulties, but remember two things:
    1. Single Payer is the ONLY model that has real evidence (mountains of it) that it actually works to decreasts costs in a meaningful way, and we are actually paying enough now to achieve it.
    2. A crisis is a terrible thing to waste!!!

    Thank you, your servant,
    Andrew Seaman
    Fourth Year Medical Student
    University of Washington School of Medicine



  11. Adele Carson on December 15, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    According to Tom Daschle’s book, we spend $6,100 per person on healthcare in America, more than twice the next country’s expenditure. Incidentally the next country is Switzerland which mandates that citizens must purchase health insurance. Why is it that countries that provide complete universal coverage are spending less and serving their citizens more effectively than these mandate countries? Hmmm?

    It sounds to me like we are already paying for healthcare -we just aren’t receiving it. I don’t want to be forced to purchase healthcare insurance under a mandate. If I could afford health insurance – I would already have it. Why would a law making it illegal for me to not purchase health insurance make it any more possible for me to purchase it? It sounds like a racket created to benefit the insurance industry rather than anything to help Americans get access to healthcare.

    We need single-payer, universal healthcare coverage for all Americans.



  12. JoAnne Taylor on December 15, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    The paperwork and complicated system we now have is crazy-making for clients and providers alike.



  13. Brad Messer on December 16, 2008 at 1:17 am

    We need all the support that we can get.
    We need a single-payer plan, national heathcare for everyone.
    Let our Congressmen know that they need to support this plan.



  14. Tom Hagan on December 16, 2008 at 1:35 am

    As a businessman, I believe that every business, every industry, to survive, must deliver “added value” to its customers.

    So what is the added value the health insurance companies deliver to justify the annual $350 billion they add to the cost of health care in the US? How does the army of denial clerks they employ, and the costs they impose on health care providers, benefit those who pay for insurance premiums?

    Answer: Zip. Nada. They deliver no positive benefit, and in fact mete out expense and tragedy with their denials of care.

    $350 billion per year is a lot of money. It takes only a small fraction of it to buy the compliance of Congress to make single payer “politiclly impossible”, even tho it is what a majority of voters and physicians want.

    It’s time for Kennedy to stand up for what is right: HR 676, true health care reform, Medicare for All that takes the useless insurance companies out of the picture and redirects the $350 billion per year we now waste on the insurance companies, to deliver decent health care to everyone.

    That would be change we can believe in.



  15. lola on December 16, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    Please support HR 676- it is so important. I’m single and have not had health insurance since I was in grad school– I’ve waitressed and freelanced. Now I have a chronic health condition and am unable to pay for health or living expenses. I have no coverage whatsoever. I never thought this could happen in America.



  16. Jane Ilgner on December 16, 2008 at 10:19 pm

    Please support and pass HR676……It is sooo past time to do so in the US.



  17. care4all on December 20, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    Dear Senator Kennedy,

    Please do everything you can to implement a single-payer health care plan for this country. The insurance companies have played a large role in our current healthcare crisis. These companies make huge profits and their CEOs make millions, while the rest of us, patients, physicians, employers, and workers alike, face skyrocketing healthcare costs, impossible bureaucracy, and life-diminishing insurance denials.

    CONSIDER THE HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANY PROFITS IN 2007:

    1. UnitedHealth Group — $ 4,654 BILLION. UnitedHealth Group owns Oxford, PacifiCare, IBA, AmeriChoice, Evercare, Ovations, MAMSI and Ingenix, a healthcare data company

    2. WellPoint — $ 3,345 BILLION. Wellpoint owns BLUES across the US, including Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wisconsin, Empire HealthChoice Assurance, Healthy Alliance, and many others

    3. Aetna Inc. — $ 1,831 BILLION

    4. CIGNA Corp — $ 1,115 BILLION

    5. Humana Inc. — $ 834 million

    6. Coventry Health Care — $626 million. Coventry owns Altius, Carelink, Group Health Plan, HealthAmerica, OmniCare, WellPath, others

    7. Health Net — $ 194 million

    The huge insurance company profits—BILLIONS EACH YEAR—could be used to provide healthcare for millions of people, and to pay physicians adequately for their work. We could pay primary care physicians, the mainstay of our healthcare system, for the time they spend on preventive care and counseling patients about their health.

    We need to get the insurance companies OUT of healthcare, so physicians can focus on the care of patients. The only solution is a SINGLE-PAYER HEALTHCARE SYSTEM – and the single payer should not be an insurance company or a group of insurance companies.



  18. Merry Foxworth on December 24, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    I agree that we must go to single payer. Please support HR676 and do not let politics get in the way.

    It is not good enough for members of Congress to cop out by saying it is not what people want. It is time for you to listen to the people and stop listening to the lobbyists and corporate interests. You are there to SERVE us, and you must not forget it. We hired you, and we can fire you. We can’t do that to lobbyists and drug and health insurance CEOs.

    As an earlier poster, the health insurance industry adds nothing of value to the health care of Americans, they only take away from it. They are not acting in an accountable way, and Congress is literally letting them get away with murder. Let’s get rid of that whole industry, and put their employees to work in the new system.

    It is time to change and correct this monstrous moral failing we have going on in our country. It is an absolute disgrace.

    Sen. Kennedy, I am sorry to have learned you have an incurable brain cancer and I would not wish that on anyone. But at least you don’t have the worry of becoming bankrupt through it, as MANY of our citizens would if it had happened to us. We ALL deserve the same coverage you do.