Calling the 83 people who sat on the statehouse lawn Saturday “the core activists” whose job will be to spread the message, David Goering and others urged support for a national single payer health insurance plan.
Goering, medical director of the Health Care Access Clinic, served as master of ceremonies for the two-hour rally under the shade trees on the south lawn of the Statehouse.
Occasionally the crowd was urged to sing along with new lyrics to some 1960s and 1970s protest songs. For example, the Buffalo Springfield song “For What It’s Worth” proclaimed, “It’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound. Everybody look what’s going down.”
The health insurance reformers sang the same tune, but the words came out, “It’s time we stop, people, how absurd. Fifty million people uninsured.”
Vashti Winterburg of Lawrence, one of the organizers, told the crowd the Congressional Budget Office has estimated a Medicare-like health insurance program for all Americans would save $350 billion a year. “I think this is the deal of the century,” she said.
Richard Heckler, also of Lawrence, said there is a lot of misunderstanding about what HR 676 would do. That’s the bill that would create a single payer system.
“It’s not socialized health care; it may be socialized health insurance,” he said.
One of the sponsors of the event was Physicians for a National Health Program. According to a statement on its Web site, the $350 billion in savings would come from eliminating private insurance companies’ paperwork.
“The potential savings on paperwork are enough to provide comprehensive coverage to everyone without paying any more than we already do,” according to the PNHP statement. “Private insurers necessarily waste health dollars on things that have nothing to do with care: overhead, underwriting, billing, sales and marketing departments as well as huge profits and exorbitant executive pay. Doctors and hospitals must maintain costly administrative staffs to deal with the bureaucracy.
Combined, this needless administration consumes one-third (31 percent) of Americans’ health dollars.”