Single-payer to be introduced on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives


Friday night as the House Energy and Commerce Committee completed its markup of HR 3200, the House health reform bill, Chairman Henry Waxman interrupted Representative Anthony Weiner of New York to say that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had promised that single payer legislation, HR 676, The United States National Health Care Act would come before the entire House of Representatives. Chairman Waxman:

The Speaker has said that she will allow this to be brought up on the House floor, and debated, and voted on.

Representative Anthony Weiner (NY-9, Brooklyn/Queens) had placed an amendment before the Energy and Commerce Committee that would have replaced the text of HR 3200 with the text of HR 676, the United States National Health Care Act. He was joined by fellow Energy and Commerce committee members Peter Welch (VT, Vermont), Mike Doyle (PA-14, Pittsburgh), Tammy Baldwin, (WI-2, Madison), Jan Schakowsky (IL-9, Chicago), Bobby L. Rush (IL-1, Chicago), Eliot L. Engel (NY-17, Rockland/Westchester).

Chairman Waxman asked for the single payer amendment to be withdrawn from committee debate in exchange for a debate and vote on the House floor. Representative Weiner hailed this victory in a brief statement:

Single-payer is a better plan and now it is on center stage. Americans have a clear choice. Their Member of Congress will have a simpler, less expensive and smarter bill to choose. I am thrilled that the Speaker is giving us that choice.

On the Mouth of the Potomac blog, NY Daily News Washington Bureau journalist Michael McAuliff reported:

The Brooklyn-Queens Rep. looked a little surprised when Chairman Henry Waxman said Pelosi would allow that vote, and made Waxman repeat the deal to be sure it was clear and on the record. It’s an especially big deal for advocates of a single health care system — who see it as cheaper and simpler than the complicated measure being drawn up — because they have been complaining that they have not even been able to get an airing of their position.

And having the vote of the floor of the House will force members to declare a position, and bring much more attention to the idea.

Reporting for The Hill Mike Soraghan wrote:

Legislation creating a single-payer system would be expected to lose, but would allow liberal members to record their support for the proposal. It will also be a tough vote for some Democrats who will be wary of upsetting the liberal base.

Many liberal lawmakers feel that the controversial “public option” that would compete with private insurers is a compromise from single-payer.

Single payer advocates should not be surprised by this turn of events. Chairman Waxman himself was a co-sponsor of HR 676 in the 109th Congress. Speaker Pelosi has also supported single payer in the past. Only this spring, at an event sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, the Speaker told the audience:

…over and over again, we hear single payer, single payer, single payer. Well, it’s not going to be a single payer…

Just one day before the Energy and Commerce Committee meeting, on July 30th, over one thousand single payer supporters swarmed through the halls of Congress to celebrate Medicare’s 44th birthday. Congresspeople and staff told us over and over again that back home grassroots clamor for single payer continues to build. In other words, across the nation, representatives have had the same experiences as the Speaker of the House.

Anthony Weiner’s initiative has created a new opening for us to educate our colleagues, our patients, our elected representatives, indeed everyone, about the need for a single payer program of national health insurance. A strong single payer vote in the House will mark a turning point in history.

Video links:

The full Weiner amendment discussion at the Energy and Commerce Committee can be viewed here. Look at the bottom on the screen. The session is 6 hours 5 minutes and 38 seconds long. The Weiner piece begins at 3 hours 15 minutes and 40 seconds and ends at 3:32:53.

Representative Weiner introduces the single payer amendment at the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Representative Tammy Baldwin (Madison, Wisconsin) speaks for single payer at Energy and Commerce Committee

Representative Eliot Engel (Westchester/Rockland, New York) speaks for single payer at Energy and Commerce Committee.

Chairman Waxman interrupts Representative Weiner to ask that the amendment be withdrawn because Speaker Pelosi has promised to allow single payer before the entire House of Representatives.


  1. Glenn Ross on August 3, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    There is no further discussion.

    SINGLE PAYER is the only answer…period! The healthinsurance has only proved they are extremely greedy and will not help anyone but themselves.

    Time to permenantely remove the insurance companies. They can sell extra coverage.

    Glenn Ross

  2. Michael Grish on August 8, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Congratulations to Healthcare-NOW for helping to place single payer front and center in the healthcare reform debate. It’s way overdue, and a sign that Americans are fed up with business-as-usual, which as we know is an ugly stain on America’s history. Let’s push single payer forward to success, just as Medicare was decades ago. Onward!

  3. Charley on August 27, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Single payer or a public trust system, such as England’s would be the best solutions. Multipayer with a government option works too, that is what they have in Germany and it works very well.
    The thing I don’t like about the single payer option is that, if we use the same model as Canada, it’s still fee for service. Fee for service does not give doctors or health care providers the right motivation. I prefer England’s system where they draw a salary and then they get bonuses for having the best outcomes (healthiest patients) of course there need to be controls that stop doctors from dropping unhealthy patients in order to boost their income.
    Best system is a public trust healthcare service where the doctors receive a salary, followed by single payer and then mulitpayer with a government option.

  4. Annette Floreani on August 30, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    I have been a registered nurse for 40+ years. Health care is a right, NOT a privilage for those who are fortunate enough to have a job that affords them health care. The propaganda that this country has the best health care in the world is absurd. Look at our outcomes compared to Scandinavian countries. We need a single payer system and the time to do this is NOW, or it will never happen.

    Propaganda that says we would have to wait for procedures is ridiculous. We wait now…they just don’t say that we are “on the list”. I was referred to an orthopedist and am waiting over 3 months for that ititial office visit. If I do need surgery, I will, once again, have to wait for the surgeon to be able to schedule when he, or she, has the time, and when it will fit into the hospital’s and my schedule. That is no different than a national health care system…it just has different verbage.

    People who are so worried about an increase in taxes should realize that the tax increase would not be as much as their current monthly health insurance premium (if they are even lucky enough to have a health care plan at all).

    Canada has excellent health care. I have spoken with several Canadians. None are unhappy with their care. I know of no Canadian who would move here for the health care. Can we not engineer a plan, like theirs, that will give everyone assurance of health care, promote preventive care and return our country to a healthy state?

    • Philinda on December 20, 2011 at 11:39 pm

      I’m impessred. You’ve really raised the bar with that.

    • shfygqnep on December 23, 2011 at 7:11 am

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  5. Scott Campbell on November 5, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    Please feed and care for the children. Share our medical expertise with all of the people supporting and living in this great country.

    Stop crying on tax funding. DEDUCT THE $100 or THE $200 EACH EMPLOYEE, with a health benefit pays per month or per paycheck. Count the savings for all and then look at the savings for the country on a single payer health benefit protection.

    SUBTRACT the federal support from the bounty collected by insurers, insurers skirting the notion of a free market and fixing prices or limiting benefits, find the remainder as the benefit (profit shared by all)and praise the freedom from the insurer bosses.

    Imitate the grassroots cap on the railroad barons (bosses), way two centuries ago.

    United States of America