Corrente

If you have "no place to go," come here!

Single Payer Support Gains Ground Rapidly as New Congress Begins work

donnas's picture

Greetings everyone.

This is Donna Smith of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee. I am on the staff for CNA/NNOC that is based in Washington, DC. We are busy here welcoming the new Congress and pushing support for single payer healthcare reform and John Conyers' bill HR676.

We are also one of the founding members of the Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care along with Health Care-Now, Physicians for a National Health Program, the Progressive Democrats of America and many other labor, faith and political activist groups.

It's an exciting time in Washington, but by no means the time to rest easy because we have a new President and a new Congress. In fact, now is the time to push harder and more directly.

I also appeared in Michael Moore's movie, SiCKO, though that was now several months ago and we've lost many thousands of Americans to the broken healthcare system since that time becasue we've yet to act as a nation to fix the mess.

But for the next hour, please feel free to ask me whatever you like and I'll do my best to respond...

0
No votes yet

Comments

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

And many many thanks for your willingness to do this. Have you been at the labor for single payer conference this weekend? Any news on that front?

donnas's picture
Submitted by donnas on

Thanks for asking. I did not go to St. Louis, but I have reports that it was great. Rose Ann DeMoro, our executive director, spoke and she reported that the meeting had more than 120 labor activists for single payer there. And it also sounds like they have some great plans for moving labor forward on this issue.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

one the biggest disappointments of this has been the lack of leadership at the international level (for non labor people the national labor leadership is referred to as the international).

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

To get more single payer advocates on TV? How can we get you, Conyers, and others on Charlie Rose, News Hour, CNN, Faux News, etc?

donnas's picture
Submitted by donnas on

Most directors -- radio and TV -- and print media editors look for content that has some hook for the current news cycle. I keep pushing on the issue of the economic damage being done not only to families but also to the nation by leaving this system as it is or worse -- expanding and enhancing the for-profit health insurance based system.

As more and more Americans lose jobs, the employer based benefits cannot be sustained for as many people and single payer becomes a way to save not only lives but also the nation's economic health -- I sell that to local and regional media first.

Letters to the editor, call-ins to radio shows on the economy ,etc.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

I have been thinking the same thing, with each successive lay off we get new converts to the single payer cause.

shystee's picture
Submitted by shystee on

Somebody whose job it is to get members of your org booked on radio/tv and print news interviews?

Places like AEI not only have "bookers" but established relationships with producers of talk shows. Not surprisingly, the most interesting people/stories do not get on the TV just because they have something relevant to say.

It would be nice if all the progressive orgs that are now setting up in DC had a central agency to get them booked.

Sounds like, in the meantime, Donna's suggestion is for activists to DIY and call in to radio shows themselves.

P.S.: Donna, do you belong to the progressiveexchange.org mailing list? It's mostly marketing and web 2.0 related but you may find some useful ideas.

donnas's picture
Submitted by donnas on

The communications staff at CNA/NNOC works really hard to get the RN voice in the single payer movement out far and wide.

We publish numerous articles and make sure of leaders and members get maximum exposure. Rose Ann DeMoro is one of the most visable labor leaders in the nation --

But, other progressives often have to do much of their own PR work and that does create a bit of a challenge. Air America and the like give a voice to many -- but the mainstream media tends to ignore much of the single payer energy as it does not benefit them enough. Viewers and readers and listeners have to demand to hear and read about all health reform plans...

shystee's picture
Submitted by shystee on

Hi Donna,

Thanks for stopping by. A recurring topic on this blog is how netroots/grassroots can more effectively bring pressure to bear on elected officials.

We have seen time and again (torture, FISA, bailouts, etc.) how "call your congresscritter" campaigns result in some lip service, but when it comes down to action elected officials always vote for the corporate interests.

Does your organization have some strategies/tactics in mind to beat the influence of the insurance lobby? Any suggestions for how the blogosphere can help?

donnas's picture
Submitted by donnas on

The on-line world is critical to this movement. Sites like this with informed readers and writers can spread the word on single payer about 1,000 times faster than more traditional means.

Also, the more we share the truth about patients and families and the suffering, the harder it becomes for the leaders to discount the facts.

The Obama sites have been a great vehicle for single payer folks to comment and show just how deep the support is. On every site where healthcare and the economy are discussed, blogers need to write.

And we have to make sure we don't just talk to each other -- we've got to reach deeper into the sites where we'll sometimes meet some resistance but which can also find minds to be changed.

Submitted by hipparchia on

do you have any suggestions for which blogs we should be commenting on that need persuading?

admin's picture
Submitted by admin on

According to reports, many of them recommended single payer (including the physical and virtual meetings we had here).

It seems that, among those who have studied the issue at the grass roots level, single payer is the clear winner (and the insurance companies don't have many friends).

How do we use that to impact the legislative process on the Hill? There seems to be a real disconnect.

donnas's picture
Submitted by donnas on

I think the nearly constant pressure to remind Congressional members of the trauma their own constituents are facing can be very effective -- call-in days are import (and we have another coming up on Thursday, January 15), but visists to district offices of the Congressional reps as well as visits to their DC offices are critical -- that's what the lobbyists do. We have to be at least as loud and at least as present.

I also remind each of them that they only enjoy their positions and their benefits at our pleasure as voters --

Then, of course, teach-ins, protests, letter writing -- it all matters. I've heard both Rose Ann DeMoro and John Conyers say "everything is everything..."

Single payer needs to be what they hear over and over and over again.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

our opposition's best strategy is to persuade everyone to "give up", so how do we put single payer on the table?

Also, have you or any other single payer advocate met with Daschle or anyone on the transition? Have you met with Kennedy or Bauscus?

And what is being done to build grassroots support in Montana?

donnas's picture
Submitted by donnas on

I have never believed that single payer is off the table -- in fact, after spending this year traveling the US -- I've been in 39 states and the District of Columbia -- talking about single payer, I can tell you that single payer is clearly part of the mix.

Here in DC, the energy surrounding healthcare reform is high -- and even if the Obama plan is not single payer, as the economy weakens and fewer and fewer individuals and businesses can afford private insurance, offering government subsidies becomes a pretty pricey way to provide a "bail out" for the private health insurance industry. Most Americans aren't in the mood to bail anyone else out -- especially not by being forced to buy for-profit health insurance.

The meetings you hope are happening are happening with various groups and people since the election -- so there is every reason to believe that momentum for single payer will grow if we grow it.

Submitted by lambert on

1. It's clear that, where a year ago "single payer" was not in the discourse (I argued against the term because I thought it was too wonky) it now is part of the mix. People use it all the time without needing to explain it. That is a huge victory, and it didn't come from the top down (since it couldn't have!)

2. That said, it's also clear that "the powers that be" who control the press narrative won't talk about it.

3. And in a lot of the blogs, the idea is that "it's not politically feasible" -- and so we have to settle. It's as if they've internalized the idea that politically feasible is made for them by others, instead of their own actions. Which reinforces #2.

What's the best way to combat the defeatism of "not politically feasible"?

donnas's picture
Submitted by donnas on

I never worry about those who argue against feasability of any change... after all, just over a year ago, if an election had been held between John McCain and Barack Obama, Obama would have won only Hawaii and Illinois -- every other state would have gone to McCain. So in just a few days, we're about to swear in the politically least feasible candidate of one year ago.

What isn't feasible is to keep allowing a private, for-profit system to gobble up national resources and leave people open to death and loss of hard earned savings, homes and credit standing.

Single payer is the way to make us all satnd on equal footing with an equal opportunity to make the maximum contribution to our nation and its economic well-being. It is definitely feasible and it is most certainly necessary.

connecticut man1's picture
Submitted by connecticut man1 on

Right now, American businesses, big and small, are at a serious competitive disadvantage when compared to the rest of the global economy. In 2007, each vehicle assembled in the United States cost GM $1,525 for health care; those made in Canada cost GM $197. How in the heck can any company in the US compete with workforce and legacy costs like that?

We need to seek out help from and coordinate with the corporations and small businesses that understand how much of a difference this can make. Starbucks, the Big 3, and any others that can be identified as supportive of this issue, as well as all of the small businesses that can not afford to pay for their workers health care and may be able to shift the chamber of commerce and their politicians.

The politicians won't likely listen to us Bloggers too much. But they will listen to business and we can make sure that these businesses are heard.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

Any news about a possible Senate sponsor? I assume that Conyers is shopping for a Republican.

donnas's picture
Submitted by donnas on

Vermont's Bernie Sanders may offer a single payer bill in the Senate, but it won't be a companion to HR676, from what we hear.

Sanders apparently wants an effort that would allow single payer on a state-by-state basis -- and clearly HR676 in a national bill.

So, we're working on that still -- and hard.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

Over at Daily Kos nyceve wrote a diary specifically asking people to contact Lugar, and I took from that that there was some specific reason to imagine that Lugar was open to the possibility of sponsoring a senate version of HR 676. Have you heard anything about that? Do you know nyceve? She is a well known single payer supporter at Daily Kos.

donnas's picture
Submitted by donnas on

I think Nyceve has done an amazing job of pushing the single payer blogger movement forward and giving a voice to many who otherwise would be left out.

And she has a marvelous amount of knowledge about where and how to put pressure on politicians. If she thinks we should push Lugar harder -- then by all means we should join in that effort.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

Indiana appears to have a vibrant single payer movement, so this gives me hope that we could make progress with Lugar.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

when you say Lugar is a good target, is that just because as a Republican senior senator he would obviously add instant political strength, or do you have an additional reason for saying that?

donnas's picture
Submitted by donnas on

then the pressure we put on their leadership, like Lugar, to clearly support the best economic plan -- including single payer -- the better our chances for success. But I do not know of any concrete support Lugar has expressed for single payer reform.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

In the past he has supported single payer, now he seems to want to pass something before he dies and is willing to compromise where he does not have to. Any strategies for bringing him back to the single payer movement? Also, how can we communicate that the Massachusetts solution is no solution?

donnas's picture
Submitted by donnas on

I believe he just needs to recall how it felt to learn of his own cancer and then think how he would want his fellow Americans to think and feel if they ever heard those words -- I know he is a man who has given his life to fighting for people in classes far different than his own. So, now we all need to remind him that while we honor all that he has done, we need him to make sure we are all treated equally with our healthcare. I know he knows that is what is right and just.

We have to keep the pressure on him -- every time we write or call a member of Congress, a copy needs to go to Kennedy. Every time. And if he hears from us and from his fellow lawmakers that the groundswell is for justice and for single payer, it will be far easier for him to embrace.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

the Senate Web mail won't let you send email to a Senator who is not from your state (and here I would point at that as a resident of DC, I don't have a Senator). So how can we CC Kennedy? It sounds like a really good idea.

donnas's picture
Submitted by donnas on

I know faxing seems sort of old school, but it's a good way to send a copy to Kennedy's office in DC and in MA. 202-224-2417 or 617-565-3183 for faxing and go to the Senate Health Committee site and click on the contact option at the very bottom of the page for those instructions...

Submitted by hipparchia on

even the small-government conservatives among my friends and neighbors are persuadable. but is obama, and his team [thinking of daschle, lambrew, et al] listening? do THEY seem at all persuadable?

donnas's picture
Submitted by donnas on

The team is listening -- and the ground is shifting beneath their feet in terms of the economic realities. I think they are smart people who know that the right thing isn't always the easy thing. Sometimes the simplest solution is the best -- and creating all these new systems and programs to try to keep the insurance industry in the loop is ultimately what will sink that sort of reform...

We cannot afford to bail them (the private health insurance industry) out by forcing every American to buy their product --- we can afford single payer. It is that simple. And it is that hard. But we can do it.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

I was hoping that Obama's team was reassing their position in view of the deteriorating economy and shifting political situation.

donnas's picture
Submitted by donnas on

Single payer is the best way to solve the crisis -- we'll get there.

See you out on the web -- send your friends and family to guaranteedhealthcare.org for details on the National Call-in day on Thursday, January 15th and please tell us your story.

Onward and good night.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

sometimes we feel so disconected here in blogospehre, it is SO great to hear from someone directly plugged into the movement.

donnas's picture
Submitted by donnas on

Stay in touch everyone. I'll always try to keep people updated when I know soemthing we can all find useful in the fight.

Stay warm.

Submitted by lambert on

Before I go out and shovel snow, thanks to DonnaS for being here (and please, let's all hang out as long as possible, it's so helpful so see how Donna frames these issues).

Question:

The primary wars between Obama and Hillary causes a lot of pain (I gave plenty, and took plenty). And one reason I supported Hillary was that I thought her health plan was better.

So, how do we get beyond that and push for the right thing in policy terms?

donnas's picture
Submitted by donnas on

In light of what we are all going through with the healthcare mess, I wrote this blog piece on the bail-out accountability or lack thereof...

From American Patients United

Accountability is for Every Street but Wall Street

By Donna Smith

WASHINGTON, DC – Imagine my surprise when I turned on the television to see Elizabeth Warren of Harvard on Good Morning America making the pitch that we should have some Congressional accountability for the billions and billions we gave to the big boys to bail them out of their financial mess.

I was on a panel with attorney and Professor Warren that testified to Congress more than 16 months ago about the damage being done to middle class, insured Americans who go belly up due to medical debt.

I adore Warren. She is a straight shooter who is trying hard to make some of these bailed-out big shots tell the truth. She is on the mark about it being pretty unconscionable that they don’t have to tell us – the people who spent our tax dollars bailing them out. No one can force them to say how they spent the money we gave them. No one. They are above the law and will prosper mightily when this is all over.

The scenario for me and my husband has been quite different. We struggled – we begged, we borrowed in some pretty unwise ways and we finally went bankrupt – due to medical crisis. We had health insurance. We had disability insurance. We had a healthcare savings account. What we did not have was a bail out. We went broke. Lost it all. Home. Stuff. Relationships with people who cannot abide the bankrupt. And any future hopes of being homeowners too – or even doing significant credit buying of any kind. We’re labeled losers. We are those evil people, you know, those dirty ones who didn’t know better or plan better for the dark days.

You know what we’ll do with the Wall Street boys? We’ll give them more money when they need it. You know what we’ve done with Donna Smith and husband? We’ve made it impossible to apply for housing without reporting the bankruptcy – and nobody cares why we went broke. We’ve made it impossible for Donna to apply for many jobs without a dirty credit report showing the bankruptcy and marking her as irresponsible. We’ve certainly relegated her to a debit-card not credit-card world where she cannot rent a car or get other credit without the nasty bankruptcy rearing its head again.

This lack of Congressional oversight of the bailed-out boys is worse than unconscionable. It should be criminal to make my life hell and theirs heaven. It should be illegal for me to be labeled a failure -- and for life -- while they get more of my tax dollars without account. It should be so wrong.

Do you care? Should Congress hold them accountable at least as much as it does me for having gotten cancer? That was my crime. And now I beg for equality in housing and in financial services while the big boys flaunt their obscenity in my face on Good Morning America? Get real, America.

Let’s help Elizabeth Warren hold them at least a little responsible. Come on. First it’s me and then it could be you, I promise. Help us speak up. Tell Congress…www.cop.senate.gov.

Submitted by lambert on

Susie writes:

I was talking to a friend in D.C. today who said the tax cuts in the stimulus plan aren’t for the Republicans, they’re for Democrats who are afraid they can’t pass the bill unless they offer something for the people who are still employed. Hmmm.

As I commented over there:

Give the people who are still employed single payer. That way (a) they can look for a new job, so they’ve got leverage over their employer, instead of vice versa, and (b) if they lose their job, they won’t have to choose between eating, their house, and health care.

The key is shifting risk OFF the middle class (”the employed”). Tax cuts don’t do anything about that at all; a little “trickle down,” and they’re gone. By contrast, single payer shifts a huge load of risk off the middle class. If Obama truly wants to do heavy lifting on behalf of the American people, that’s one excellent place to start. (And not with medical records, for pity’s sake, which you just know the insurance companies are going to use to deny care to policy holders more efficiently than they already do.)

connecticut man1's picture
Submitted by connecticut man1 on

to work on health care reform with Obama when he asked for issues volunteers? I have not because I was not sure it would even be worth it. But if he really wants people to work on issues they feel are important, maybe it would be worth knocking heads from the inside? If there were enough of us and we were coordinated enough...