Healthcare-NOW!’s Response to Passage of House Health Bill

On Saturday, November 7, 2009, the House passed H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, to much celebration by the Democratic party. Healthcare-NOW!’s view, however, is that the House bill is a gift to the insurance industry at the further expense of the people of this nation.

The bill’s advocates claim it will cover an additional 36 million people, subsidize the cost of insurance for families up to 400% above the poverty level, increase Medicaid coverage to 150% above the poverty level, close the Medicare donut hole by 2019, place a surcharge on individuals making more than $500,000 and couples making more than $1,000,000, will end rescissions and pre-existing conditions.

What the Democrats fail to mention is the bill leaves millions of people uninsured, allows medical bankruptcies to persist, criminalizes and fines the uninsured, increases the number of underinsured, does nothing to contain the sky rocketing costs, blocks women from their reproductive rights, transfers massive public funds to private insurance companies strengthening their control over care, protects pharmaceutical companies’ superprofits at patient expense, fails to reclaim the 31% of waste in our system, expands Medicaid without regard to the state budget crises, discriminates based on immigration status and age, and sets up several levels of care covering less for those without the ability to pay. Those who have coverage will increasingly find care unaffordable and will go without. The whole system will inevitably fail from being fiscally unsustainable.

So is the House bill better than nothing?

“I don’t think so,” writes Marcia Angell, M.D., former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine. “It simply throws more money into a dysfunctional and unsustainable system, with only a few improvements at the edges, and it augments the central role of the investor-owned insurance industry. The danger is that as costs continue to rise and coverage becomes less comprehensive, people will conclude that we’ve tried health reform and it didn’t work. But the real problem will be that we didn’t really try it. I would rather see us do nothing now, and have a better chance of trying again later and then doing it right.”

Given that the bill does nothing to contain or reduce rising costs or end the private health insurance industy’s dominance, we hoped that the Progressive Caucus would stand strong. But they did not. All but two of H.R. 676’s cosponsors voted for H.R. 3962 — Rep. Eric Massa [D-NY] and Rep. Kucinich [D-OH].

Rep. Massa stated, “At the highest level, this bill will enshrine in law the monopolistic powers of the private health insurance industry, period. There’s really no other way to look at it.”

Despite telling single-payer advocates that Congressman Weiner’s single-payer amendment could not go to vote because it would open the floodgates for regressive amendments on abortion and immigrant access, the Democratic leadership allowed votes on both. Prior to the vote on H.R. 3962, the Stupak Amendment passed that will prevent women receiving tax subsidies from using their own money to purchase private insurance that covers abortion and in many cases will prevent low-income women from accessing abortion entirely.

The House of Representatives has dealt the worst blow to women’s fundamental right to self-determination in order to buy a few votes for reform of the profit-driven health insurance industry,” writes Terry O’Neill, President of National Organization for Women. “We must protect the rights we fought for in Roe v. Wade. We cannot and will not support a health care bill that strips millions of women of their existing access to abortion.”

Healthcare-NOW! fought to win a fair and open debate on healthcare reform including the merits of a single-payer system. This has not yet happened, but the advocacy for this system has greatly impacted the debate in meaningful ways.

We need to continue to build the grassroots movement for single-payer, not-for-profit, national healthcare. We look forward to much brain-storming at our upcoming national strategy conference in St. Louis this weekend, and the opportunity to move forward with renewed energy, creative ideas, and resolve.

Meanwhile, we have the opportunity NOW to continue to support the Sanders’ Single-Payer Amendment to be introduced in the U.S. Senate, Congressman Kucinich’s efforts to get the state single-payer amendment back in when the House and Senate bills are reconciled, and the efforts of the Mobilization for Health Care for All.

Thanks for all that you do,
Healthcare-NOW! National Staff and Steering Committee


  1. Jonnie Hamdan on November 15, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    What do you think of the Dutch, “Bismarck” model of healthcare. Would that be considered “Medicare for All”? THe House bill (HR 3962) looks like the German or Dutch system – private companies, private providers. Regulated insurance companies.

  2. Richard Heckler on November 19, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    Yes I am absolutely in this battle foe the long haul. However why not call it National Health Insurance because that is what it is?

    Using Medicare is brilliant as it saves big bucks over reinventing the wheel.

  3. Joy Alexander on November 20, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    It’s time for this country to become an ADVANCED DEMOCRACY, and treat health care as a right and not a luxury to be purchased if you make enough money! Let’s get HR 676 passed; it’s the most civilized thing we could do as a nation!

  4. Bill Ernstberger on November 20, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    I am so angry and ashamed of our country. I never thought I would witness a time of enslavement to corporations, but that is indeed the case. Large corporations, not just the “health insurance and pharmaceutical” industry, but ALL corporations are EVIL. They no longer are answerable to their patrons, rather, CONGRESS is in lock-step with these despicably HUGE companies.

    We must demand that Congress answer to the people who elected them, or VOTE THEM OUT!


  5. David McKeever on November 20, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Please support the Kucinich amendment. We deserve health care. It is a right not and should not be for sale! We will vote according to how you vote!!!

  6. Cata on November 22, 2009 at 12:31 am

    thanks i can always count on HCNow to give me the straight. the Senate’s version just passed. i cant wait to see what you think that bill’s passage.

  7. Chris Hagel on November 24, 2009 at 11:13 am

    Hi Jonnie,
    I don’t claim to be an expert in this area but I have a basic idea.
    In Germany, there are private truly non profit “sickness funds.”
    These SF run at about a 6% over head.

    We pool the risk for things we don’t use all the time but are vital to all of us when we do need it. Fire department, police, roads, libraries etc. It drives the cost down, when pooling the risk; every insurance company knows this. The health insurance industry even admits this but they want the risk pooled under their over priced low quantity/quality policies.

    Someday we might need intensive care for a serious accident or illness and it will be there.
    That’s what insurance is supposed to be.
    It will be there for the regular check ups too, to catch a blood pressure problem or some other problem early.

    My understanding is there’s a history about why Germany has these non profit “sickness funds” involved.

    I think we as a country can address and correct any glitches that, say, Canada might have. None the less, the fact is Canada does so much more with so much less. Any problems they have are exaggerated (or outright lies) and taken way out of context to the efficiencies of single payer. In fact Canada is addressing these problems due to public pressure. England too.

    This is not as heavy a lift as the naysayers would have us believe.
    Just phase in Medicare (a very accepted and American thing) as embodied in HR 676.

    Of course, there will be some modifications and tweeks as we go along but that’s to be expected.

    Why anyone would want their health care linked to their employment is beyond me.
    We will be more happier and much more securer as a nation when we get these middleman health insurance industry leeches off of us.

    A Documentary “Sick around the World” aired in the recent past.
    It describes different health care systems world wide. It was fairly helpfull and informative.
    Here’s the link:

    I think the documentary can be streamed from this sight.

    Eat healthy, get the veggies and fruit (organic if possible) into the diet. But let’s pool the risk across the entire American population and break the employment/health care link.

    Marilyn Clement lives on!

  8. Richard Heckler on November 28, 2009 at 7:47 am

    If 3 million healthy insured dropped their policies in the next two weeks not only would they save thousands of dollars the insurance industry would faint in disbelief that this many people actually are awake and give a damn.

    Sooner or later another few million would do the same. Suddenly all of america would realize the medical insurance business has been doing nothing but making tons and tons of profit by way of fear mongering.

    At that point all would see that america could have insurance at a much much lower rate such as 225 a month for the best coverage in the world that includes the entire family.

    Makes dollars and sense to me. More money to invest smart instead of supporting high rollin executives and shareholders.

    Maybe get on with that home improvement with cash instead of borrowing from the bank…..just maybe.

    Maybe go to Jamaica for a few weeks instead of supporting high rollin executives and shareholders.

    Most consumers are under-insured = candidate for bankruptcy. Most coverage WILL NOT stick with consumers when the going gets tough = fraud.

    What could be done with that high profit middle man money that which DOES NOT provide health care?

    1. Home Improvements = jobs

    2. Invest in a green annuity

    3. Create a college investment account for children

    4. Purchase a fuel efficient auto = money saved and secures jobs in the automotive industry

    5. Buy gifts for a lover which improves ones quality of life and boosts a local economy

    7. Buy a second home in the Rocky Mountains = helps reduce number of homes for sale

    8. Keep an existing vehicle in top running condition = dollars saved and clean air

    9. Landscape a yard to reduce mowing substantially and requires far less water = conservation of natural resources and more money in the wallet

    10.Donate to a local zoo or library.


    12. Set up a health care investment account or annuity that makes YOU money
    instead of wealthy CEO’s. Your health care annuity will NOT cancel out on when the poop hits fan.

    13. National Health Insurance is far better for America than the public option.

  9. KDelphi on December 21, 2009 at 2:35 am

    All I want for Christmas is my brain tumor out…