The Green Party of the United States has endorsed the national Day of Action for Single-Payer national health care (Medicare For All) on Saturday, May 30.
The Day of Action is being organized by Healthcare-Now and other groups dedicated to winning a health care system that covers all Americans, providing treatment regardless of employment, income, age, or prior medical condition, with full choice of physician, hospital, or other health care provider.
A more immediate goal is to have Single-Payer advocates — who speak for the will of a majority of Americans — represented in all congressional and White House meetings, roundtables, and hearings on health care. Single-Payer has been barred from the public debate, because of the influence of insurance, HMO, and pharmaceutical lobbies, through campaign contributions, ‘astroturf’ (false grassroots) operations, and dishonest advertising.
Similar events will take place throughout May. On Wednesday, May 13, a ‘Single-Payer Solidarity Rally’ will take place in Washington, DC, as part of National Nurses Week. Participants will gather at the Washington Court Hotel at 11:45 am and then march to a rally at Upper Senate Park, which will take place from noon until 2 pm. The California Nurses Association expects 500 nurses to lobby and rally for Single-Payer legislation, along with others in the Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care.
Two Single-Payer bills have been introduced in Congress, HR 676 and S 703, under the leadership of Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Ind.-Vt.).
Health Care Industry “PR Scam”
Greens blasted the President Obama’s May 11 announcement that insurance companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, the American Hospital Association, the AMA, and other groups intend to reduce the growth of health care costs by 1.5 percent over ten years, calling it a ploy to block meaningful health care reform — especially the possibility of Single-Payer (See “The Health Care Industry’s PR Scam: Will Obama Fall for It?” by James Ridgeway, Mother Jones, May 12).
“We are embarrassed for President Obama for trying to foist this on the public. The health care industry’s pledge of a 1.5 percent reduction of health care spending growth — likely to rise about 6.2 percent a year in the next ten years — amounts to virtually nothing for Americans who need health care. This is a deal to make sure that any health care reform that gets enacted continues to make corporate profits a higher priority than the health of the American people,” said Peter LaVenia, co-chair of the Green Party of New York State.
The Single-Payer plan would do far more than slow the rate of increase, said Greens. It would reduce health care spending in the US by as much as one third, cutting costs dramatically for working Americans. Single-Payer would also replace employer-based health care benefits, removing a severe financial burden on businesses suffering from the recent economic meltdown.
Green Party leaders stressed that the ‘options’ plans favored by many Democrats are designed to sustain for-profit insurance companies through massive taxpayer-funded subsidies or mandates, and said that Single-Payer removes the private insurance-HMO industry from the system altogether, making health care a right for all Americans.
Physicians for a National Health Program notes that “[o]ver 31% of every health care dollar goes to paperwork, overhead, CEO salaries, profits, etc.” The overhead for Medicare, based on administrative costs but without the demand for profit, is about 3%. According to a Lewin Group study, Single-Payer would save California alone about $38 billion over ten years. (Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed two statewide Single-Payer bills that had passed in the state legislature.)
Greens support the Baucus 13
Green leaders called for all charges against the ‘Baucus 13’ to be dropped. The Baucus 13 were arrested for challenging the exclusion of Single-Payer advocates during the May 5 and May 12 Senate Finance Committee roundtables on health care reform. Committee chair Max Baucus has asserted that “Single-Payer is off the table.” Kevin Zeese, former Maryland Green candidate for the US Senate and currently executive director of the Campaign for Fresh Air and Clean Politics, has published an account of his arrest.
“The recent protests at the Senate Finance Committee roundtables have put Single-Payer in front of the public. This is the moment to demand Single-Payer as aggressively as possible. We’re dismayed that the Progressive, Black, Hispanic, and Asian and Pacific American Caucuses in Congress have shied away from endorsing the Conyers-Sanders Single-Payer bills and instead declared their support for a public health insurance option that would be ‘part of comprehensive health care reform legislation‘. We’re equally disappointed that MoveOn is promoting the Obama plan and criticizing insurance lobbies — while ignoring the participation of insurance companies in the crafting of the plan,” said Sanda Everette, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States.
“The health care reform debate demonstrates why America desperately needs an independent noncorporate party. Democratic and Republican politicians are swimming in campaign donations from the insurance industry, receiving over $46 million in insurance money in 2008. Greens don’t accept corporate contributions. A few Greens in Congress would provide some new competition, leading many more Democrats — and perhaps some Republicans — to sign on to Single-Payer legislation,” said Justine McCabe, clinical psychologist who co-authored statewide Single-Payer legislation in Connecticut in 1999-2000 with the support of the Green Party of Connecticut.