By Andrew Coates, MD –
The Democratic National Committee (DNC), at its Organizing for America website, barackobama.com, has initiated nationally coordinated local events in June, the “Health Care Organizing Kickoff.”
Organizers will call local contacts using an “Invite Call Script:”
“For decades, health care reform has been blocked by special interest lobbying and political point-scoring in Washington. We’re doing everything we can to make sure real reform happens this year. We’re starting by doing something real here in our own community.”
The DNC hope is to solicit personal stories “about the importance of health care reform in your life” and to organize house parties to discuss the President’s “principles” and to plan volunteer activities on the weekend of June 27, a “local Health Care Day of Service.” Participants will be asked to “brainstorm” about volunteering for a day at a community health center, or hosting an SCHIP education program, or holding a blood donation drive, or running “a healthy food drive/health care fair.”
Back in December the Obama-Biden transition team organized thousands of “Health Care Community Discussions.” The President-elect (with Tom Daschle) issued a call for “health care reform that comes from the ground up.”
As the community meetings occurred, PNHP received a flood of reports from participants that single payer was the unanimous recommendation from hundreds of gatherings. The official report confirmed that single-payer reform was discussed by 27% of 3,276 house parties (at least 884 meetings) and admitted that “the majority of those groups supported this idea.”
This support came in spite of the fact that participants and moderators were instructed to follow a script that appeared custom-tailored to keep single payer out of the discussion. The official instructions offered reform based upon employer-sponsored health insurance as the only option:
“In addition to employer-based coverage, would the group like the option to purchase a private plan through an insurance-exchange or a public plan like Medicare?”
Even so, more than 1 of 4 meetings proposed that a single publicly financed national health program was the answer to the American health care crisis.
The transition team report blamed the popularity of single payer on “encouragement by advocacy groups,” characterized the proposal as “radical change” and devoted about one solitary page in a 122-page document, enough to dismiss single payer proposal and its advocates. So much for health reform that comes from the ground up.
This year a nationwide movement for single payer national health insurance has taken root progressively. At every turn — from the White House summit to the regional White House forums to the Senate Committee on Finance to the halls of the Capitol to our home congressional districts — single payer advocates have been there. So often now we are the only ones at the meeting not paid to attend. Our movement has grown strong enough to inspire righteous and dignified civil disobedience.
Obviously it is time for the Democratic National Committee to “kickoff” and do “something real” for “real reform.” Let us hope that millions join the campaign. Really.
Imagine a day of service in which volunteers organize a free personal bankruptcy clinic, or a bus trip to Canada to purchase prescription drugs, or an advance-planning workshop about Medicaid enrollment to cover nursing home costs, or a session on how to appeal the hospital bill, or a day of tabulations of insurance industry profits, overhead and campaign donations, or a seminar on how to raise the most money — raffles, dances and bake sales — when the volunteer fire company goes all out for the local child with leukemia who has exhausted the parents’ insurance benefit…
The majority of the nation knows that the only proposal that will fulfill your principles, Mr. President — reduce costs, expand our choice of health care provider and give access to excellent health care to everyone — is a single payer national health program.
Mr. President, your nation needs you to get real, get back to health reform that comes from the ground up and keep the promise:
“The system we have now might work for the powerful and well-connected interests that have run Washington for far too long, but I don’t. I work for the American people. I didn’t come here to do the same thing we’ve been doing or to take small steps forward, I came to provide the sweeping change that this country demanded when it went to the polls in November.”
— President Obama, February 28, 2009, “Keeping Promises.”