By Helen Thomas

Americans can be thankful for two humanitarian presidents whose legacies stand as emblems of caring values that enrich us as a nation.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt won passage of the Social Security Act in 1935 and President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare legislation in 1965.

Social Security and Medicare work beautifully and provide security and medical care to millions of American families, especially now in hard economic times.

Imagine what America would be without.

President Obama should follow the formula of his two predecessors and support a “single payer” health plan, assuring universal health care in this country.

Usually, the “single payer” is a government agency that provides one-stop health coverage. In contrast, the American system of paying for health care is a chaotic wasteful porridge of health providers, private insurance plans with wide variations in coverage, deductibles, co-pays, etc.

The best way for the United States to move toward a single payer system would be to expand Medicare for everyone – and why not? It won’t be free – everyone would have to kick in.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs recently came up with several lame excuses about why a single-payer system was not acceptable to the Obama administration.

He said the goal of the president’s health care reform objective was “to cut costs for families that are watching their premiums and their co-payments and their deductibles skyrocket.”

Experts who have compared the various plans say a government-run single payer plan would be less expensive than private insurance. There would be less overhead and no marketing costs and no compulsion to rack up profits.

There are some 47 million people without health insurance – and thousands more are losing their health benefits with their jobs.

Gibbs said the president “looks forward to working with Congress to find a workable solution that can get through Congress.”

That may be the bottom line, the part about getting through Congress. Obama does not want to pick fights with Congress, where there are many Democrats as well as Republicans who oppose any kind of single payer program.

Obama is leaving it to Congress to design the specifics of a health reform program that he hopes will produce universal health coverage.

Well, Congress should take him up on that. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., and other House members are sponsoring H.R. 676 that would create a single payer health plan in the United States.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has sponsored similar legislation in the Senate (S.2031).

Their proposal would provide health insurance coverage for every person in the United States. It would provide all necessary medical care including prescription drugs, hospital, surgical, outpatient services, primary and preventive care, emergency services, as well as dental, mental health, physical therapy, hearing and vision aids and long-term care.

It touches all bases.

In stressing the negative, Gibbs noted that there are 535 opinions in Congress on health reform and that the president is not about to take them on. Obama has enough on his plate already, with two wasteful wars draining our finances and resources.

Hillary Clinton tried her hand at health care reform when she was first lady in 1993-1994. She drafted a plan so complicated that few understood it – it was dead on arrival on Capitol Hill.

Obama has endorsed some form of “public plan” health insurance that – at least in some versions – would create a government agency to provide lower-cost medical insurance in competition to private insurance providers.

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and other Republicans have expressed their opposition to such a “government-run” program. They argue that it would devastate private insurance companies because customers would switch to less-expensive government-provided coverage.

With our shocking unemployment rate and with employer-provided health coverage evaporating for the millions of workers who are now jobless, it’s time for Congress to pay attention.

The president and Congress should embrace the most efficient and fairest way to pay for universal health coverage. They should create a single-payer program.

5 Comments

  1. Eliza Jane Dodd on May 20, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Thank you for such a wonderful article .Do you think Washington will read this article ? I am so very sick of the way this adminstration ignores the people who voted all of these people into office .
    I paid $7,500 @ 17 yrs @ $7,500 and I only used it one time in 17 years .If the USA would TAX us all equally for health care there would be lots of savings left over .There are many people like me who do not abuse insurance or waste it .I never needed to see a doctor and when I did the operation was only $3.000.oo I paid over $100,000.00 …No wonder these greedy bastards do not want us to have Universal health care …Look at all the money they made on me ? After I was told BCBS would never cover cancer in me again and I was on my own my husband lost his job and health care .I went to the County .Jackson, Tn. and was refused care in 2003 and they always run your Social Security number and I had excellent credit ,I had always paid my bills before they were due .And I was told “Sorry There is Nothing We can do for you” …so it wasnt my credit …The Head Nurse over the Emergency room told me the STATE was Bankrupted by WALMART and illegals … and I had just been given Steriods for HBV …My kidneys and Liver where shutting down …I went home and last chance looked on line for a healer and a natural cure came up and I tried it and it saved my life ..2 weeks later I found a Dr. from Duke and he told me all the doctors in that Area are uneducated and that These Workmans comp Doctors do it all the time …Kill People like me …Those doctors are in it for the Money …they are criminals …and so is the COUNTY they are also criminals …When I used my BCBS for the first time I had to fight with the Primary to see a OBGYN and when I went to the OBGYN he gave me VIOXX and then Liquid narcotics …and it took a ultra sound probe to break off inside of me to get the cancer removed I had vulva cancer that kills 3,400 American women a year and 25,000 world wide …It took like 3 months of calling and going there and my husband calling the docotr @ home to get help and then the ultra sound probe embarrassing moment …and no apology …they all made me feel like I did something wrong from the Very First Appointment …We needed this Universal Health Care 80 Years ago …
    And to everyone who calls the WHITE HOUSE BEWARE >>They are DIRECTING YOUR PHONE CALLS to the SAME PERSONS …We are being totally IGNORED …dont believe it call 3 or 4 days in a ROW and you will get the SAME OPERATOR who answers …mybarackobama or healthcare reform . com is a BIG JOKE …there is no FORUM there is NOTHING it is just a PACIFIER for ALL OF US …that web site is SO SPAMMED there is NO OPEN DIALOG …This whole Administration is a BIG JOKE like The Last Administration …Obama Now IGNORS the VERY PEOPLE WHO GOT HIM ELECTED ….what a SHAME it is !



  2. MaineBob on May 20, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    Got email from Prez Obama (via DNC) to Support his weak proposal for healthcare reform. It was a request to support and Tell your story. I did and added my STRONG support for SINGLE PAYER:

    http://my.barackobama.com/HealthCareOrganizing

    Please go there and be sure to mention Single Payer as part of the solution in your story.

    FYI I am one of the healthy under-insured that is “Gambling: with a $15,000 deductable policy. This should not be a Health Lottery.
    SINGLE PAYER — Everybody IN – NoBody OUT.
    Thank you!



  3. Eliza Jane Dodd on May 23, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    My idea stolen by the VETERANS >>>>No just kidding …sorta ….this was my Idea 3 or so years ago for Universal Health Care …I said WHY DONT WE HAVE A LOTTO FOR IT ????And everyone laughed …now I hope they all EAT CROW ….OK Kate read this > Star Telegram Ft Worth Texas ( HOUSE APPROVES SCRATHCH OFF-GAME TO BENEFIT VETERANS )
    Under LOTTERY on the Front Page May 16th 2009 article by; Dave Montgomery Star Telegram Ft.Worth news-paper …Please everyone read this article ?? I think having a Lottery for Universal Health Care is a WINNER !



  4. Vashti Winterburg on May 23, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    Thank you,Helen. As always, right on. Yes, I received an Obama email to do another of their silly house parties for health care. Did one in December 08, packed it with my single payer buddies. I can’t decide whether I want to do another one, also for single payer, or whether the administration will just use our numbers to pretend they have backers. The NY Times said the single biggest outcome of the December house parties was that we all hate our insurance companies, but the White House and Congress still continue to work on an insurance company bailout. Wish somebody in Washington would listen to the Republican semanticist, Frank Luntz, who said, everyone hates the health insurance companies and that Republicans would be smart to, “throw them under the bus.” Vashti Winterburg, co-chair, Kansas Health Care for All p.s If you’re a Kansan reading this we’re having a rally in Topeka from 1-3 p.m. Sat. 30 May in front of the Capitol (Rain location at Assumption RC Church)see khcfa.org



  5. S. Johnson on May 25, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    For the most part Medicare is a good program – but hospice is rife with abuses. Hospices receive $145/day for the care they provide, even to patients in nursing homes (while reducing the monies paid to the nursing homes, even though they are providing the actual care while the hospice provides the “oversight.”) Some hospices are ethical and moral, but many are not and they’re costing all of us. With cutbacks in Medicare oversight, it’s getting worse.

    Hospices use tactics such as “you’ve paid for this through your Medicare deductions” without explaining that they are being paid thousands per month to provide services many patients don’t need, or aren’t ready for. They’ll leave out the words “terminal” “end-of-life” and “death/dying” while signing on anyone at all. The hospice benefit was designed to help people at the end of their lives, not cost the system millions (if not billions) of dollars each year for patients who don’t understand the program, but are the victim of high-pressure sales tactics.