[Sayma-Discuss] Bill Moyers Fri., May 22 discusses Single Payer National Health Insurance

Free Polazzo freepolazzo at comcast.net
Thu May 21 09:48:58 EDT 2009

Hi Friends,


Sara Rose (AL) sent this to me and I agree with her that a national
conversation about why we need a single payer health care plan to be
included in the discussions now happening in our country. 







May 20, 2009

Dear PNHP Colleagues,

This Friday evening (May 22) the Bill Moyers Journal on PBS at 9 p.m. EDT <>
will feature a discussion with Dr. David Himmelstein, co-founder of PNHP,
and other single-payer advocates, asking the question "why isn't a
single-payer plan on the table in Washington?"

This important media event is emblematic of a recent surge in media interest
in the single-payer alternative (see below) - a surge in large part fueled
by the bold and courageous acts of civil disobedience undertaken by PNHP
members and others before the Senate Finance Committee earlier this month.

.         Yesterday the conservative editorial board of the Times-Union in
Albany, N.Y., made an impassioned appeal <>  to Congress to put single payer
on the table.

.         Dr. Margaret Flowers, one of the first persons arrested by the
committee for speaking up for single payer, explains why she did so in this
op-ed in the Baltimore Sun. She has given radio and newspaper interviews
almost every day since her arrest.

.         Others who took part in the D.C. actions have been profiled in the
media, too: see, for example, these portraits of Dr.
Mc41Zmhc3LG0>  Judy Dasovich and Dr.
2841Zmhc3LG0>  Carol Paris.

.         Dr. Paul DeMarco, writing
vaNCX841Zmhc3LG0>  in the Spartanburg (S.C.) Herald Journal, explains why,
as a conservative, he supports single payer and the principle of mutual aid.
(His op-ed ran directly alongside an opposing view by Sen. James DeMint,

.         In their May 16 letter <>  to The New York Times, Drs. Arnold
Relman and Marcia Angell, past editors of the New England Journal of
Medicine, explain how "We don't need more money; we need a new system." In
another recent NYT letters column, Dr. Laura Boylan writes <> , "As long as
the logic of our system is set by a huge for-profit multi-payer bureaucracy,
we will continue to get low value on the health care dollar."

.         This is just the tip of the iceberg. For example, Dr. Himmelstein
was on NPR's Diane
rfpM41Zmhc3LG0>  Rehm Show Monday, along with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
and others. 

What PNHP members can do:

1.       Tell your colleagues and friends about this Friday's Bill Moyers
program, watch it yourself, and post your comments about it immediately
afterward on the program's web
kssTIc41Zmhc3LG0>  site (look for the feedback button). Note, too, that the
entire program will be available on the program's web site after a day or

2.       Now is the time for each of us to speak out, to write op-eds and
letters to the editor, and to muster the strongest arguments we can for the
only effective remedy for our nation's health care crisis: single-payer
national health insurance.
SxcM41Zmhc3LG0> Slides are available (password is fein), along with a tip
js41Zmhc3LG0>  sheet on how to write letters and op-eds.

3.       Rallies and other events in support of single payer are taking
place in over 40 cities nationwide on or about May 30, and in some cases
physician speakers are still being sought for the programs. Find out more
about how you can participate in this National Day of Action for Single
Payer here
AM41Zmhc3LG0> .

4.       Contact your members of Congress. We recommend these four "asks" or
requests of your representative or senator: (1) that the single-payer model
be represented at all health care reform hearings, (2) that the
Congressional Budget Office study the cost-effectiveness of a single-payer
national health system alongside other proposals; (3) that there be a full
hearing to assess the merits of a single-payer system; and (4) that he or
she co-sponsor H.R. 676,  The United States National Health Care Act, or (in
the case of senators) S. 703, the American Health Security Act of 2009. A
ks41Zmhc3LG0>  to lobbying is also available.

Thank you for your continued support and especially your priceless efforts
for reform.


 Quentin Young <http://pnhp.org/images/signatures/Quentin-Young-final.jpg> 

 Ida Hellander <http://pnhp.org/images/signatures/ida_hellander.gif> 

 Mark Almberg <http://pnhp.org/images/signatures/Mark-Almberg.gif> 

Quentin D. Young, MD
National Coordinator

Ida Hellander, MD
Executive Director   

Mark Almberg
Communications Director


Bill Moyers Journal
Friday, May 22, at 9 p.m. EDT on PBS (check local listings) 

Washington's abuzz about health care, but why isn't a single-payer plan an
option on the table? Bill Moyers speaks with advocate Donna Smith about how
our broken system is hurting ordinary Americans. Then, policy analysts and
physicians Sidney Wolfe of Public Citizen and David Himmelstein of
Physicians for a National Health Program join Bill Moyers for a frank
discussion about the political and logistical feasibility of a single-payer
system amidst the troubled economy and a government dominated by lobbyists.


Health: a fight for rights

By Margaret Flowers
Baltimore Sun
May 17, 2009

Health care must become the civil rights movement of our time. And it is
becoming clear that achieving guaranteed health care for every American will
require all the tools that helped win earlier civil rights fights.

Earlier this month, eight health care advocates, including me and two other
Maryland physicians, stood up to Sen. Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, and
the Senate Finance Committee during a "public roundtable discussion" with a
simple question: Will you allow an advocate for a single-payer national
health plan to have a seat at the table? The answer was a loud, "Get more

Single-payer is a system of public financing that will guarantee everyone,
without exception, all medically necessary care with no co-pays or
deductibles. You would go to the doctor (most of whom would remain in
private practice) and hospital of your choice.

By replacing today's wasteful, fragmented, for-profit private health
insurance industry with a single, streamlined system of paying medical
bills, similar to how traditional Medicare works, we would save more than
$400 billion annually, enough to assure comprehensive, quality care to all.

Single payer is supported by the majority of the public, as well as most
doctors and nurses. It would end the tens of thousands of preventable deaths
and more than 1 million cases of medical bankruptcy that occur in the United
States every year. But none of that seems to matter to Mr. Baucus.

As the May 5 meeting approached, we applied the standard tools of advocacy,
organizing call-in days and faxes to committee members, requesting the
presence of one single-payer advocate at the table of 15. The only reply -
received on the day before the event - was, "Sorry, but no more invitations
will be issued."

The next day, we donned our suits and traveled to Washington. As the meeting
started, one of us, Russell Mokhiber, stood up to say that we were here and
we were ready to take a seat. He was promptly removed from the room. I stood
up next and spoke out for single payer. I was also arrested, as were the six
others who spoke out in turn.

In that moment, it became clear: We could write letters, call staffers, and
fax until the machines fell apart, but the Senate Finance Committee had no
intention of allowing single-payer experts to have a voice in the process.

Instead, the people seated at the table represented the corporate interests:
private health insurers, big business and those who support their agenda.
These same players paid more than $13 million to the members of the Finance
Committee in the 2008 election cycle alone. They profit greatly from the
current arrangements and do not want changes that will hurt their

For decades, doctors and nurses have tried to deliver quality health care in
an environment that makes it increasingly difficult to do so. We all have
stories that break our hearts. The time has come to tell our stories so that
we can create a health care system that focuses on care, not corporate

And so, we have entered a new phase in the movement for health care as a
human right: acts of nonviolent, civil disobedience. At the most recent
roundtable in the Senate Finance Committee, on Tuesday, 30 nurses silently
stood up and turned their backs to the committee with the message: "Nurses
say: Patients first. No to AHIP [America's Health Insurance Plans]. Pass
single payer." After a few minutes they walked out. Then five more people
were arrested as they spoke out for single payer.

The opportunity to make health care a civil rights issue is here. If calling
our legislators isn't enough to get the job done, we must use the tools that
have achieved civil rights victories in the past.

Dr. Margaret Flowers is co-chair of the Maryland chapter of Physicians for a
National Health Program. Her e-mail is nose1 at aol.com. Her statement was
co-signed by representatives of Labor Campaign for Single Payer; Single
Payer Action; Healthcare-NOW!; B'more Housing for All; and


Put single-payer on the table

Times Union (Albany, NY)
Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Earlier this month, eight courageous doctors, lawyers and other activists
interrupted a Senate Finance Committee meeting on health care reform to ask
why there wasn't one advocate of a single-payer health care system at the
table. Chairman Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, had them arrested. Shame on
Senator Baucus, and shame on Congress if it continues to stifle debate on
one of the biggest issues facing this country.

To claim, as they have, that "everything is on the table" except a
nationalized health insurance system, similar to what many other modern,
industrial Western nations have, is much like saying the Thanksgiving meal
is complete, except for the turkey.

We are not saying single-payer is necessarily the answer. We are saying that
a full discussion of the future of health care in America can't take place
if all credible potential solutions aren't examined.

We are mindful that there are powerful pressures on President Obama and
Congress against discussing a government-run health care program - whether
it is one that coexists with a private insurance market or one, like
single-payer, that replaces it entirely. There are the inevitable charges
from critics on the right of the S-word - socialism - at any hint of the
government suggesting it could do a better job than the private sector.

And then there's the vast and entrenched health care industry, looking to
scuttle mere talk of a plan that might help the nation gain control of
spiraling health care costs and provide decent, affordable coverage to the
50 million people without it. Hence its vague offer last week to trim an
astounding $2 trillion in costs over 10 years. That the industry could shave
$2 trillion, just like that, would seem to only hint at the excess there is
in the current health care system.

And what exactly was this offer?

To trim future growth from a crushing 7 percent a year to a
still-unsustainable 5.5 percent. And if costs grow faster anyway? Will we be
told, well, it's still less than it might have been?

We recognize that Democrats would want to avoid the more uncomfortable
discussion. There are many - including New York's own Sen. Charles Schumer -
who agree a single-payer system is the solution America needs, but that it
isn't practical right now.

Well, if we can't even discuss it now - when the country is in a recession
and the ranks of the uninsured are growing; when major industries like
automakers are buckling, in no small measure because of health care costs;
when Americans are poised for change and the party that promised it is in
power - then when?

Perhaps those who prefer to shy away from the uncomfortable yet absolutely
necessary discussion could take courage from 75 members of Congress,
including 10 from New York - among them freshman Democrat Paul Tonko of
Amsterdam - who signed on to Rep. John Conyers Jr.'s single-payer bill. Or
from the people who earlier this month, at the risk of arrest, went to
Washington to say what they thought was best for the nation.

We'd like to imagine we sent our representatives there for the same reason.

The issue:

Congress shut down debate on a single-payer health care system before it
even started.

The Stakes:

A solution that many believe is the best for the nation needs to at least be


Taming Runaway Health Care Costs

New York Times
May 16, 2009

To the Editor:

David Leonhardt, in his May 13 column ("Health Care, a Lesson in Pain,"
Economic Scene), is quite right that "the only way to have a sustainable
universal health care system is to control costs." But in analyzing the
experts' testimony before the Senate Finance Committee on how to pay for
health care, he did not mention a solution that neither the experts nor the
committee wants to consider: major reform of the system.

Runaway costs are due largely to high overhead expenses throughout the
system, and to the excessive use of expensive technology. Both of these
result from a health care system that is organized like a profit-seeking
industry instead of a social service.

If we want health care to be a universal entitlement, it cannot be
controlled by market forces and the financial interests of insurers and
providers (and the investors who own such a large part of the system).

Some kind of government-regulated single-payer insurance plan and a
reorganized nonprofit medical care delivery system may be "off the table"
for policy makers right now, but we will never achieve affordable universal
coverage without major reform that deals with the real causes of medical

We don't need more money; we need a new system.

Arnold S. Relman
Marcia Angell
Cambridge, Mass., May 14, 2009

The writers, medical doctors, are former editors in chief of The New England
Journal of Medicine.


Can Health Insurers Be Cost-Cutters?

New York Times
May 11, 2009

To the Editor:

Paul Krugman outlines proposed cost-cutting by the "medical-industrial
complex." Why, thank you, medical- industrial complex! How nice to suggest
lowering costs.

At the risk of seeming ungrateful, I wish to point out that the problem with
voluntary cost reduction is that it's voluntary. As long as the logic of our
system is set by a huge for-profit multipayer bureaucracy, we will continue
to get low value on the health care dollar.

Our nation's ability to afford decent health care for all our citizens must
not depend on voluntary self-regulation of for-profit entities. We need
single-payer national health insurance. Let's circle the wagons around
health care, not around private insurance companies and Big Pharma.

Laura S. Boylan

The writer, a clinical associate professor of neurology at New York
University School of Medicine, is on the board of directors of Physicians
for a National Health Program, Metro New York.


Physicians for a National Health Program
29 E Madison Suite 602, Chicago, IL 60602
Phone (312) 782-6006 | Fax: (312) 782-6007
fc41Zmhc3LG0>  | info at pnhp.org
C PNHP 2009

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