Statement on the Withdrawal of Rep. Weiner’s Single-Payer Amendment to House Bill

Dear Healthcare-NOW! Supporter:

On the eve of what could have been the first vote on single-payer legislation in our nation’s history, we have just learned that because of last minute developments, the vote and debate on Congressman Weiner’s single-payer amendment will not happen.

Speaker Pelosi received a statement from Rep. Kucinich and Rep. Conyers, the co-authors of HR 676, that they do not think that this is the right time for a vote on national single-payer legislation. They made this statement despite the extensive mobilization in support of this vote across the country. In addition, Speaker Pelosi felt that offering a single-payer amendment would open the floodgates to amendments proposed to limit abortion funds, restrict immigrant access to healthcare, and other regressive legislation.

Let us remember that the potential vote on Congressman Weiner’s single-payer amendment resulted from holding fast to our principles of universal, comprehensive healthcare with no financial barriers. These efforts have brought truth and clarity to a national debate on healthcare reform that has been polluted by the corporate influence over Congress. While the private insurance industry has sent 3,000 lobbyists to Capitol Hill this year, spending 1.4 million dollars a day to shape reform that protects their profits, our calls, faxes, and demonstrations have created the momentum to bring legislation based on HR 676 to the floor of the House and Senate.

The vote for Congressman Weiner’s single-payer amendment would have allowed advocates to have their representatives on record as single-payer supporters.

But this legislative battle is not yet over. Our focus can now turn to two remaining efforts for single-payer in this Congress. Sen. Bernie Sanders will introduce S 703 in coming weeks, and we understand that he is considering editing it to be more like HR 676. We will have the opportunity again to see the first ever vote on single-payer in this Congress. In addition, Rep. Kucinich’s amendment to allow states to more easily implement a single-payer system may be reinserted into the bill during the conference committee between the House and Senate.

All of these efforts are crucial to building the movement for the only solution to our healthcare crisis – single-payer national healthcare.

If this Congress passes inadequate legislation, there will no doubt be emboldened state movements in the coming years. We welcome them. But let us not forget the movement to push our federal legislators to meet the demands of the people, not roll that responsibility onto the states. Healthcare-NOW! and the Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care remains committed to a national, single-payer solution to the healthcare crisis. Comprehensive, quality healthcare is a right that should be extended to every U.S. resident.

At this important time, let us not forget how far we have come. Either now or later, a single-payer national healthcare system must come to the table. We will keep building the movement to make that happen.

For healthcare justice,
Physicians for a National Health Program
Progressive Democrats of America
California Nurses Association
Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care
Public Citizen
Healthcare for All Texas
Western PA Coalition for Single Payer
Alliance for Democracy
Single Payer New York


  1. john on November 6, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Such a disapointment. Sounds like some arm twisting myself

  2. Jon Raymond on November 6, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    It is important and even inevitable that we have a single payer helath insurance system. But to make compromises as we see now, that could effectively be insurance industry bailouts, and that do little to take us in the right direction, may be worse than doing nothing. I know we have to do something and doing nothing is not an option, and yet we see this being delayed which is effectively just that.

    The danger in passing weak legislation is that it would appease many single payer supporters and result in acceptance of a very inadequate system. It is better, I think, to hold out for real meaningful reform, even a single payer system, than to accept compromises as far reaching as many of these are.

    Many will say we have to do it a step at a time. I think that will result in one step, period, leaving us stuck with little change. Medicare was a drastic change that this country took on. That was the first step. Now we need Medicare for all, and we should accept nothing less.

    I believe if this were our cause, and for many it is, there would be stronger and more widespread support that would pressure Congress to make this change. The more they deny single payer, the more we must push for it.

  3. Chicago on November 6, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    I am disappointed. I wish that we all had the guts to get it all on the table. And I hope that the movement doesn’t loose momentum.

  4. Charles England Jr on November 7, 2009 at 2:53 am

    HR 676 or medicare for all Funded by an open end to the Social security income. Employee/employer (each pay) a flat 7.7% on all earnings. No limit Employees earning more than $500000 no longer have the tax the full 15.4% being paid buy Employer. All bonuses to be considered income regardless of source.

  5. Michael G. Harris on November 7, 2009 at 9:58 am

    It is a travesty that the amendment has been removed. We need single payer system NOW, paid for through cuts to the military budget and administered by a newly formed Department of Peace.

  6. susiecute on November 23, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    meanwhile – while congress diddles and daudles – people continue to go without health care.

    we are no where near paying off a hospital bill from June of only 4 days – thousands of dollars – simply because a job was lost and the new replacement job has no medical benefits.

    shame shame on you congress!