This statement has been prepared in response to the many inquiries as to why organizations supporting single-payer national health care are not mobilizing to support the June 25th rally in Washington DC organized by Health Care for America Now.
As you know, the single-payer movement is driven by a diverse coalition of doctors, nurses, labor, civic and faith groups, and concerned Americans advocating for single-payer national health care, improved Medicare for all. This year, key organizations, including Healthcare-NOW!, the California Nurses Association, Physicians for a National Health Program, Progressive Democrats of America, and 80 other member organizations have come together under the umbrella of the Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care (LCGHC), the National Single Payer Alliance.
This alliance operates with a decision making body of member organizations that support single-payer legislation HR 676 and S703. We all agree that single-payer is the only answer to our health care crisis. All other reform options fall short of the single-payer standards of universality and cost-effectiveness.
With our commitment to single-payer, we are widening the debate to include advocacy for a guaranteed health care system for all people in the United States. We have seen a powerful response from the public of this nation as we stand firmly behind single-payer as the best way to achieve health care as a human right. Especially in recent weeks, this strategy has proved fruitful in raising consciousness for the demand for a single-payer system that removes profit and waste from the system to guarantee health care to everyone. We have 82 cosponsors on HR 676 and continue to pull in resolutions from unions, faith groups, and other organizations regularly. We are having the first official congressional hearing on single-payer in the House on June 10th.
In the face of other reform proposals that maintain the private insurance industry, single-payer is still the preferred reform for the American people and physicians. Many in the Health Care for All movement agree that single-payer is the gold standard for reform, but some coalitions and individuals are now supporting the choice of private insurance or a public option. While the LCGHC has formally decided not to support a public option that maintains wasteful private insurance companies, we know that there are many people who feel that advocating for the public option may lead to meaningful reform.
The LCGHC will not be supporting any rallies, events, lobby days, or other activities for the public option reform for the following reasons:
1) Many member organizations feel that disrupting an event organized to support the public option will be counterproductive to our work in building the movement for single-payer. Many public option supporters are also single-payer supporters. We don’t want to alienate those who still support single-payer despite other reform strategies that they hope will lead to meaningful reform.
2) Previous events that were attended by both Health Care for America Now and Single-Payer groups caused confusion. Healthcare-NOW!, with a similar name, received many emails concerned that Healthcare-NOW! was no longer supporting single-payer. We don’t want to contribute to the confusion between two very different policies, single-payer and the public option.
3) We want to focus on building the movement for single-payer and the best way we can do that is by focusing on single-payer actions in DC and locally. The events committee of the Leadership Conference is working to coordinate actions that will support single-payer. We hope you will join us as we move forward. It is very heartening to see the energy and support nationwide as we build the grassroots energy to insert this much needed solution into the health reform discussion. We do not want to bury single-payer support within principles, no matter how politically practical, that will not solve our health care crisis.
There will be a rally for Human Rights in Washington DC sponsored by the National Health Care for the Homeless Council on Friday, June 26th at 6 p.m. You are invited to join advocates, service providers and consumers to speak out for the right to health care, housing, and livable incomes.
We hope that everyone will mark their calendars for a National Call-In Day for single-payer on June 22nd, and again on July 30th celebrating Medicare’s Birthday in DC and around the country. Stay tuned for details.
Thank you for helping to build the single-payer movement!
In common cause,
Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care, Steering Committee
Healthcare-NOW!, National Staff