Both sides demonstrate in Grand Rapids over plan for single-payer national health system

By John Agar for The Grand Rapids Press

As a local organizer of Single Payer Michigan, Chris Silva led a rally Saturday outside the Federal Building to build support for a single-payer national health system and dispel what he considers half-truths.

“(Opponents) kind of think what we’re talking about is socializing medicine, rationing healthcare, but that’s simply not true,” he said.

“We’re taking the best of both worlds: public funding … private delivery. ”

The rally, one of 50 planned nationwide, brought dozens, some from as far away as Detroit, but not all bought Silva’s message. As many as five groups showed up to support or protest a single-payer system, which supporters say would save $400 billion a year if for-profit health insurers are taken out of the equation — and everyone would have health care.

Across Michigan Street NW, The Tea Party of West Michigan said the idea of the federal government managing health care would be a disaster.

“I don’t think our founding fathers would ever dream this would fall under the umbrella of the federal government,” organizer Mark Petzold said.

President Barack Obama is working with insurers and medical groups in an effort to bring health insurance to all Americans.

John Gritter, a registered nurse at Lakeland HealthCare in St. Joseph, said the health-care system is in crisis, with patients delaying care until they require expensive emergency-room treatment, or going bankrupt if they require extended medical treatment. Hospitals are forced to write off unpaid bills, putting them at risk of financial collapse, which hurts everyone, he said.

The down poor economy has only made the situation worse.

“This is the real deal. It’s not hypothetical, it’s actual,” Gritter said.


  1. MOCKBADOC on June 2, 2009 at 12:53 am

    Nice platitude: “Public funding…private delivery”. But what exactly does that mean?

    I presume it means that unlike the British model, in which all health care is completely taken over by government, you advocate a Canadian/French model. All three have failed.

    In Britain, the incessant complaints about wait-times and unresponsiveness have forced the government to begin sub-contracting their duties out to the more efficient private sector.

    In Canada, the still-technically-illegal private medical community has been recently approached with a blind eye to their lawbreaking, again in an effort to clear out the masses of people waiting for necessary services.

    In France, over 90% of their citizens must procure “gap insurance” to cover the costs of health care not currently covered by their single-payer government health care Utopia.

    Before we consider implementation of single-payer health care, I would suggest that the proponents of such a plan actually provide some actual verifiable evidence that it results in increased quality and/or decreased suffering. If you really cared about the less-fortunate, you would do so.

  2. Ellizabeth J. Singh on June 3, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    My inlaws live in Canada, in Montreal, Toronto, St. Thomas, and Edmonton.

    They have never uttered a single complaint about Canadian healthcare. They may mention a problem finding a job, a desire for a higher income, or discomfort in the long, cold winters, but healthcare? Hey, they know they’re fortunate to be elibile for Canadian healthcare.

    My son, who depends on daily medication, forgot to pack his medicine when he flew from Dallas to Montreal for a family wedding. His Canadian aunt contacted her doctor and her doctor found a way for my son to get enough of the right medication to keep him stable till he returned to Dallas.