Supporters of a single-payer system of health care used a special White House forum to send a message to the man in the Oval Office.
“Barack Obama said it at an AFL-CIO meeting in 2003 that he was an advocate of the single-payer health care system,” said Dr. Deb Richter, who helped organize the protest. “He said we had to take back the White House and take back the Senate and take back the House, which they’ve done. Now it’s time to get the single-payer bill he promised.”
About 200 people gathered outside the Davis Center to push for a system they describe as “Medicare for all.” It would make coverage portable — people could change jobs without losing their coverage — and eliminate the insurance companies one provider described as middlemen who made her jump through hoops.
“I worked 40 years as a clinical social worker doing psychotherapy,” said Larilee Suiter of Charlotte. “All the last 20 years got worse and worse as I spent more and more time negotiating on the phone with providers who were giving limited coverage or denying coverage.”
Suiter said her professional and personal experiences with the health care system motivated her to push for a single-payer system.
“The insurance hoops were so challenging to cover,” she said, “it was taking more time than I was willing to give and still see patients and I think that’s true of providers everywhere.”
Organizers said the protest drew people from all over the Northeast, including New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts and New York.
“We drove three hours to make sure the message is everyone in the country needs health care,” said Jaime Contois of Keene, N.H.
Of course, such a system will not come cheap. But advocates say it would be more efficient — and eventually save money.
“Essentially what you’d have to do is the ugly T word — we need to publicly finance it through taxes,” Dr. Richter said. “We have to recognize we Vermonters, we Americans are paying the full bill right now anyway. We’re paying it in the form of taxes, out-of-pocket expenses, deductibles, co-pays, increasing premiums, lower wages at work. We’re paying the entire bill anyway.”
There is a bill in Congress that would provide comprehensive taxpayer-funded health coverage. The legislation, known as H.R. 676, has been referred to a House committee, but no other action has been taken on it.