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New health care alliance pushes 'Medicare for All' reform

Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care says high-quality health care is a right of all people

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jan. 28, 2009

Contact:
Mark Almberg, (312) 782-6006, cell: (312) 622-0996, mark@pnhp.org

WASHINGTON -- Nurses, doctors, students, large community-based membership groups, labor unions, religious organizations and activists launched a new health care alliance today called The Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care/The National Single Payer Alliance (www.guaranteedhealthcare4all.org). The combined organizations have a membership base of more than 20 million people.

"National Nurses Organizing Committee's 85,000 members lend their continued commitment to our fellow member groups fighting to reform the health care system through a Medicare-for-All system that would be publicly funded and privately provided," said Geri Jenkins, registered nurse and co-president of NNOC/California Nurses Association. "Our nation's nurses know that real patient advocacy is only possible in a health care system in which patient care is more critical than insurance company profits."

Spokespersons for the new coalition said they believe high-quality health care is a right of all people and should be provided equitably as a public service. A single-payer national health program would eliminate the wasteful role played by private health insurance companies and, as a result, is the most cost-effective and efficient way to achieve health care for all in the United States, they said.

"It has become clear, especially now that we are in a recession, that single payer is not merely the best solution, but the only solution," said Dr. Walter Tsou, Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) board adviser and former health commissioner of Philadelphia.

Dr. Robert Zarr, a pediatrician who co-chairs PNHP's Washington chapter, elaborated on this theme, saying, "The economy is in shambles, and more and more Americans have lost their jobs and their health insurance. One in three Americans does not have timely access to health care. We cannot rely on private health insurance any longer because of its waste and greed.

"This is not a time for small incremental change," Zarr continued. "This is a time for bold change. With a clear majority of Americans and American physicians demanding national health insurance, now is the time to expand and improve Medicare for all."

Progressive Democrats of America Executive Director Tim Carpenter added, "The most important step the new administration and Congress can take to provide a stimulus to employers and financial relief to families across all income levels would be to incorporate single-payer health care reform within an economic recovery package."

The coalition supports H.R. 676, a bill that calls for an expanded and improved Medicare system that would cover all U.S. residents. Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) has reintroduced the legislation in the 111th Congress.

The new coalition's name -- The Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care -- is intended to evoke the memory of pioneering civil rights coalitions that successfully united advocates for racial equality with labor unions and religious, women's and civil liberties groups. Their combined efforts eventually contributed to the passage of landmark legislation like the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.


Physicians for a National Health Program, a membership organization of over 15,000 physicians, supports a single-payer national health insurance program. PNHP physicians are available for interview and can speak about options for reform at both the state and national levels. To contact a physician-spokesperson in your state, visit www.pnhp.org/stateactions/ or call (312) 782-6006.