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Live Blog Tonight at 5pm - Healthcare-NOW!

healthcarenowkatie's picture

[Welcome TalkLeft, Agonist, and Digby readers! --lambert]

Greetings! My name is Katie Robbins and I am the Assistant National Coordinator for Healthcare-NOW! and I will be "live blogging" right here on building the movement for single-payer national health care tonight, Sunday, November 23rd from 5pm -6pm! Please bring questions, ideas, and topics to discuss.

Healthcare-NOW! is an education and advocacy organization that addresses the health insurance crisis in the U.S by advocating for the passage of national, single-payer healthcare legislation. Right now, the National Health Insurance Act (HR 676) is the only legislation that will create a national, single-payer healthcare system. We see healthcare as a human right, not a privilege tied to the ability to pay.

Our Vision
Healthcare-NOW! is an all-volunteer, highly decentralized organization with over 400 activists all over the country. We firmly believe that bottom-up efforts are the only way to win single-payer, guaranteed, and universal healthcare. We aim to engage and empower leaders at the grassroots level who will understand the issue and implement a wide range of tactics to push support for HR 676 into National legislation. We have a decentralized network that depends on hundreds of local organizations to develop their own create ways to reach people and build the movement for national health insurance.

We also work closely with other national groups advocating for single-payer national health care such as the California Nurses Association, Physicians for a National Health Program, and Progressive Democrats of America to coordinate national initiatives and strategies for building the movement and impacting Congress.

Join the conversation and support single payer national health care!

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amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

hi! i was wondering if you could give us a rundown on the playing field as it stands now--inside and outside of DC. And of the levels of commitment as well.

and i'm especially interested in corporations, worker orgs like unions, and affiliated groups (like those you mention above of healthcare workers, etc), as well as business groups and others-- and whether there are ways we all can pressure companies especially to get on board and devote money to this just as some do for other causes. (CA's Prop 8 battle, for instance, saw Apple and many other companies donating money, as well as companies donating on the other side as well--and the election as well)

How can we get true single-payer valued as the vital thing it really is--with the goal being to get companies/business orgs with deep pockets to agitate and lobby for it -- like it is for the majority of Americans who need and want it? they have far more access and are listened to way way more than us, tragically.

healthcarenowkatie's picture
Submitted by healthcarenowkatie on

Thanks to amberglow for starting things off! These are two great questions.

HR 676 has been endorsed by over 20 medical organizations, six faith organizations, over 45 municipalities, and over 465 unions. A long list is found here: http://www.healthcare-now.org/petition/e... (if you know of others that should be on the list and are not, please let us know.)

While some of these are organizations with a national base, we have a great deal of support coming from the grassroots. Healthcare-NOW! activists can be found in almost every state: http://www.healthcare-now.org/action/loc...
The organizations with a national base actually make up something called the "Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care" and are meeting every two weeks in DC with Congressman Conyers. This has been a very exciting development. The single-payer activists are back!

We are very excited that the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church endorsed 676 in 2008 and will be doing 10 regional "workshops" and education and advocacy for HR 676 this year. This is huge! The first will be in Pittsburg. We will keep you posted!

The majority of endorsements are coming in from the local level. The California Nurses Association is certainly leading the way for single-payer support for unions on the national level, but other unions with a national base who have endorsed HR 676 are not as strong. SEIU, AFSCME, and others are not in full force support of single-payer thought healthcare reform is at the top of their agenda. The movement would certainly look different if they were.

Physicans for a National Health Program has done an excellent job of organizing doctors. A recent poll shows 59% of doctors are now in support of an Expanded and Improved Medicare for All system. This is huge.

We have a group organizing small businesses, but your question about corporatiosn and big business poses a difficult problem for us because they are often tied to the insurance industry. You may see that the Boards of large corporations have members of the insurance industry sitting on them. This is the case for many media outlets’ boards as well. Corporations and big media are difficult places to break in to for many reasons. Supporting single-payer national health care is a way of challenging corporate power specifically over corporate for-profit interests in our health care system. We don’t see them as our allies right now, but maybe that will change as they recognize how much money they will save and the current for-profit health care system is not sustainable.

As you can see, the movement is really building up from the grassroots. We feel this is the only way to win single-payer national health care. If big corporations suddenly become brave enough to stand up to their friends in the private health insurance industry, then we welcome them to do so. They would certainly save a helluvalot of money on health care.

And another important aspect is that corporations have money, but they don't have votes. We do. Along with Progressive Democrats of America and other organizations supporting HR 676, we feel that pushing and agitating by congressional district is a critical piece of impacting reform in favor of single-payer NOW.

Not all of my answers are this long, but this helps set the stage for the work we are currently doing. Thanks amberglow!

Submitted by lambert on

... I'm interested in (a) connecting people together and (b) getting people to post, and both those interests come together when health care activists set up events and then blog about them. (Well, there is the matter of sound public policy as well).

Therefore, I encourage you all to use our spiffy or at least functional new Calendar to list events to this community, but also to follow through with reports of what happened! (Cross-posts are fine, but the closer to the grass roots, the better.) Doesn't matter where, who, how.... Just that somebody moved things forward on the ground.

Submitted by lambert on

Do you have contact forms by district?

(Even better, I wonder if Jeff could make them available via Web Services or, better, REST?

(That way, when we post, we could add a contact form right in the post. We'd get the hits ;-) but you wouldn't have to expose your database...)

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

Our votes haven't been working (at least in terms of getting our elected officials in DC to do something on this)--locally they're better tho, i find. Especially since 06 (and way before for many of us too)--on all issues. Congressional Democrats have explicitly ruled it out, in fact, even tho the majority of Americans really want and need it--more and more each year.

They do listen, tho, to corporations, lobbyists, and the media--which is why i see getting corporations onboard is so vital to progress. I also see the great strides companies have made in terms of equality and diversity as a hopeful sign that they can be brought onboard--but i don't see how we can get them onboard, even tho it'll help them enormously, profitwise. I'd be interested in hearing more about efforts to get them involved, if there are any. I think they're key precisely because we're not being listened to--and they are.

On Unions, i'm saddened they're not onboard -- but i know they use healthcare as a key bargaining tool, and are under siege all the time anyway. (I guess they see it as a conflict with their primary goal--to help those workers organized under their banner but solely in terms of their employers.) If they were onboard this Big 3 bailout would be a great opportunity towards progress, i think.

Have you been in contact with other religions/religious orgs? Mine--Reform Judaism--has a big Religous Action Center -- http://rac.org/index.cfm? -- and a healthcare for all part too -- http://urj.org/csa/projects/healthcare/

healthcarenowkatie's picture
Submitted by healthcarenowkatie on

You make a lot of good points, and we shouldn't give up hope on the businesses because with the current economic state, there may not be much choice. We are hoping that business leaders will recognize that Single-Payer will be the ultimate bailout for business and the American people.

Indeed, it will save (depending on the cost analysis you look at) 70 billion to 350 billion dollars by simply cutting out the waste of the private insurance industry. The savings when you project to the future is untold because of the increased benefits of health people. More detailed analysis on savings by state can be found here: http://www.pnhp.org/facts/single_payer_s...

Other religious orgs include - the Unitarian Universalits, the United Methodist Women, and the United Church of Christ. I will certainly look up Reform Judaism. Thanks!

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

would be easier, since they're not as focused on short-term/stock price stuff?

or--counterintuitively--companies that make health and medical products? like Johnson and Johnson, etc? or maybe even big pharmacy chains? wouldn't they be happy if they were guaranteed payment always? (maybe?)

also--Celebs--are Norman Lear and other very good and activist celebs onboard? can they be brought onboard? (at least you get guaranteed media airtime that way)

healthcarenowkatie's picture
Submitted by healthcarenowkatie on

Many of the big corporations you mention just are not going to get behiind single-payer. J&J has a foundation that would never support single-payer work. It just isn't a good track for us to gain more support.

We hope that Congressman Conyers can help us with more celebs. I have day dreams of Stevie Wonder and others getting behind this issue. Let's keep thinking big!

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

it was just a thought--i figured a J&J-type company (or vitamin company, etc) could get enormous pr benefit and consumer love (and profits) by loudly and publicly being for this, which consumers want--like all the greenwashing lately and the trumpeting of environmental stuff they do.

JeffHCN's picture
Submitted by JeffHCN on

Yeah. Unions see healthcare as the biggest way to recruit new members. That's why their leadership, despite their rank and file supporting HR 676, have decided to focus on different healthcare models. Plus, many union leaders, Andy Stern of SEIU comes to mind, think that single-payer is "fundamentally un-American." Meaning, it's not a free-market solution and should be avoided at all costs. They need to be woken up to the reality that most American's and doctors support single-payer healthcare.

I'll check out the Religious Action Center. Thanks.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

they're "unAmerican" too--they're socialist and collective, i'd say (which is fine with me, and good for the country).

SEIU especially should be onboard-- lowest-paid workers are most in need of this -- and SEIU is almost all lower-paid workers, lowest-benefited workers, no?

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

have them go to companies they deal with--and just say, "look--you never want to give healthcare benefits, and we have to fight tooth and nail on every single contract, over and over and over--Why don't we get together and force Congress to do single-payer--you win, you save money, you get healthier employees, and we don't have to fight as much"

(i'm dreaming, i know)

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

Thank you for doing this. I will be back at 5 PM and look forward to what you have to say. Thank you!

healthcarenowkatie's picture
Submitted by healthcarenowkatie on

I just want to say thank you to all of you at correnteWire who have been vigilant about posting the latest news in the single-payer movement. This is critical for getting the message out, and it is great to be here tonight for this discussion!

Also, Jeff Muckensturm, the Healthcare-NOW! web coordinator and fellow staffer will be joining us for the discussion. Welcome, Jeff!

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

If you could ask a person who is sympathetic to UHC but not able, inclined, etc., to do all sorts of activism, to do one thing to help, what would it be?

My apologies in advance for posting and running. I look forward to reading your response later on tonight, if you have some advice on this.

Thanks so much for visiting us here at Correntewire and for fighting for what's right!

healthcarenowkatie's picture
Submitted by healthcarenowkatie on

Thank you for your honesty! We all have issues we are passionate about and it is not humanly possible to devote all of our time to these issues. HC-NOW! tries to keep this in mind.

If you want to do one thing to help, I would recommend signing up with Healthcare-NOW! here http://www.healthcare-now.org/contact/si...

This will put you into our Action Alert Network and we will send posts to you about making an impact on legislators as we kick off coordinated call-in days and letter-writing campaigns. These are often actions that can be completed in under 10 minutes. Not bad!

JeffHCN's picture
Submitted by JeffHCN on

I agree with Katie. Because in the future, if you're in a district with a rep. that might be on the fence about single-payer, we might need you to give him or her a call to tell them that you support HR 676 and ask them to co-sponsor.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Now, I really do have to run.

I look forward to seeing you (and the rest of the country) in better healthcare!

Submitted by lambert on

to weave into posts?

1. Save $350 billion a year

2. Save _____ lives

and?

Good for both the uninsured -- and those who think they're covered?

Should be a right?

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

"it kills more people than _____ every year" or something like that? (drunk driving, smoking, cancer, etc)

(or does that kind of comparison not work, and make it too much of a contest/competition?)

healthcarenowkatie's picture
Submitted by healthcarenowkatie on

Every year, the deaths of 18,000 people between the ages of 25 and 64 can be attributed to a lack of health insurance. This makes uninsurance the sixth leading cause of death, ahead of HIV/AIDS and diabetes.

http://familiesusa.org/assets/pdfs/wrong...

A more striking number is that we would have 101,000 fewer deaths each year if we had a national health care system. These are poweful statistics, and I think they work in comparison or not.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

any calculation of the number of dead by denial of care? I think many voters think that we can keep our present system with some subsidies for the poor? How do we communicate that most people only think that they are insured?

healthcarenowkatie's picture
Submitted by healthcarenowkatie on

This number - 18,000 to 22,000 - (depending on which report you cite) is what we use as the number for those who die because they simply do not have insurance.

healthcarenowkatie's picture
Submitted by healthcarenowkatie on

Good question, it is a huge difference.

The wording is critical: 18,000 deaths due to no insurance.

101,000 deaths if we had a national health care system - so these are deaths that are preventative (diabetes, etc.) highly treatable and people can't receive care because of the limitations of accessing health care.

Does that make more sense?

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

every minute, ___ people die because America doesn't have single payer healthcare. ... ?

(most people don't know the figures at all--i didn't, and i try to be informed.)

healthcarenowkatie's picture
Submitted by healthcarenowkatie on

We are hoping to do this as well. We have a project coming up soon that will highlight the problems Veterans experience accessing health care. There are so many marginalized people who don't have a voice in this issue that Healthcare-NOW! and all of us have a lot to do to get the word out. Thanks for the suggestion.

Check out this youtube video we did this year: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAvy9jew9dM

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

We have a group organizing small businesses

does it have a name? a website?

also, what effort are you making to coordinate your local groups with the committees in question, I am thinking along the lines of using your groups who have Senators on the Finance committee?

healthcarenowkatie's picture
Submitted by healthcarenowkatie on

http://www.businesscoalition.net/, but the reality is that small business can be difficult. Right now, the coalition is a small group of concerned individuals.

Local groups will be working to have more coordinated lobbying efforts. We are hoping to put pressure on our representatives with some highly coordinated lobby days starting at the beginning of the next Congress to show the breadth and commitment of the movement. A lobby group consisting of doctors, nurses, constituents, and activists, victims of the insurance industry, etc. will make a powerful statement.

healthcarenowkatie's picture
Submitted by healthcarenowkatie on

http://www.businesscoalition.net/, but the reality is that small business can be difficult. Right now, the coalition is a small group of concerned individuals.

Local groups will be working to have more coordinated lobbying efforts. We are hoping to put pressure on our representatives with some highly coordinated lobby days starting at the beginning of the next Congress to show the breadth and commitment of the movement. A lobby group consisting of doctors, nurses, constituents, and activists, victims of the insurance industry, etc. will make a powerful statement.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

what happens at the weekly strategy meetings and has Conyers offered any guidance as to handle HCAN?

healthcarenowkatie's picture
Submitted by healthcarenowkatie on

The bi-weekly strategy meetings have been used to pull together the activists and coordinate a strategy up to this point. We are hoping to have Congressional Hearing starting in February that Conyers' office will help us coordinate. We may have some action no the hill in the Spring - probably a mix of lobbying and demonstrating, so stay posted for more details on that.

HCAN isn't something we actively try to work against. That is a larger discussion, and we feel that our work is to promote this amazing solution - single payer national health care. HCAN is not "opposed" to single-payer, but they are not actively supporting it. We feel we need to focus on what we do best: supporting single-payer as opposed to working against HCAN.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

I didn't mean to suggest we should work against HCAN, only that our strategy had to take them into account.

healthcarenowkatie's picture
Submitted by healthcarenowkatie on

Oh, I see. Thanks for the clarification. We certainly encourage being a Single-Payer voice in any Health Care for America Now event. We had folks attend a rally in Nashville so that the HR 676 signs and support would be visible. This is important. The names of our organizations are similar, and it is not uncommon for people to be confused about this.

a little night musing's picture
Submitted by a little night ... on

(Hi, Katie, and thanks for doing this!)

I was at the rally at Times Square last week and I'm also a member of a union (PSC-CUNY) which has endorsed HR 676. Yet this endorsement doesn't seem to have translated into support (they scheduled a meeting for the same time as the rally) nor into educating the membership about the bill (it's a virtual nonentity in our union newspapers, etc.)

I don't want to be pouring cold water on the good news about getting union endorsements, but I do find this frustrating. [Also, I don't see the congressional endorsers doing anything to make sure the bill doesn't get marginalized.]

What role do you see unions playing in getting single-payer into the mainstream consciousness, and how can we as members push our unions to actually do these things?

(Unions are a really big deal here in NY and have a lot of political power. I realize this may not be the case everywhere.)

healthcarenowkatie's picture
Submitted by healthcarenowkatie on

This is such an important point. I feel the same frustration...if endoresments aren't followed with activity then it isn't worth the paper it's written on. There is a meeting in St Louis in January with this specific point in mind. We hope to have more labor involvement coming out of this gathering.

If you are a member of a union, you should ask them what they are doing to support 676. If you aren't happy with the answer, you may want to start organizing the members to show the leadership you want them to support. This would be a very powerful statement.

We did reach out to the AFL-CIO, TWU, and others to get involved in NYC, and maybe it was bad timing, but the union support wasn't strong that night.

healthcarenowkatie's picture
Submitted by healthcarenowkatie on

Everybody wants Oprah to support us more! I wish she would too. She did have a great show with Michael Moore and the woman who heads the American Health Insurance Plans. But more specific single-payer conversations are needed.

Progressive Media has been supportive of course, and GritTV - The Laura Flanders show has featured us several times this year. We can always be out there more. Bill Moyers did a great show on the CalNurses. I am hopeful that the next year will be a fruitful media year.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

I had forgotten her great work. I was thinking more along the lines of CNN or NewsHour.

healthcarenowkatie's picture
Submitted by healthcarenowkatie on

We will certainly be trying. I also imagine that the book that was edited by PNHP doctors, Mary O'Brien and Martha Livingston "10 Excellent Reasons for National Health Care" should do a book tour hitting alot of the bigger networks. It is a great read! Pick it up on amazon or local bookstores!

JeffHCN's picture
Submitted by JeffHCN on

Do you mean a form to contact your representative directly?

Submitted by lambert on

(Change your comment control to "Threaded list expanded" and the replies will thread.)

Yes -- with your information on the form, of course!

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