On Eve of Healthcare Rallies, Forums

Nurses, Progressive Democrats Seek Stepped Up Action for Real 'Robust' Reform--Single-payer, Medicare for All, as Best Solution to Crisis

For immediate release:

June 24, 2009
For more information contact:

Tim Carpenter, PDA Executive Director

Charles Idelson, CNA/NNOC Communications Director

WASHINGTON, DC--With action heating up in Washington for enactment of comprehensive healthcare reform, the nation's largest RN union and professional association joined with progressive Democratic Party activists today in calling for the most "robust" reform of all to repair the nation's healthcare crisis, by enacting a single-payer system in the form of expanded and updated Medicare for all.

In a joint statement, the National Nurses Organizing Committee/California Nurses Association and Progressive Democrats of America announced they are stepping up calls and other lobbying efforts to urge Congressional leaders to include discussion of the single-payer option in upcoming deliberations on the healthcare reform legislation now advancing in Congress.

As President Obama holds several public healthcare events, major committees in Congress unveiling legislation, and some liberal constituency groups set to rally in Washington Thursday, NNOC/CNA and PDA said that a single-payer/Medicare for all approach is "the best way to achieve goals of universality, effective cost controls, and improving the quality of care for all Americans."

All other proposals, the groups said, suffer the same limitations. They:

* Leave the insurance industry, with its emphasis on generating profits and revenues rather than providing care, in control of our health.
* Fail to assure financial security of American families by not cracking down on insurance pricing practices.
* Avoid the strongest cost controls that are achieved in a single-payer system with one shared risk pool that covers everyone, eliminates the administrative waste associated with private insurers, and uses the power of the public entity to negotiate lower costs.
• Does not protect choice of doctor, hospital and other providers, as occurs in a single-payer system, because insurers can still limit choice to their own approved network of doctors and providers.

Even the public option favored by the President and leading Democrats would not achieve these goals, said NNOC/CNA and PDA. Private insurers would still be able to cherry pick healthier patients through their aggressive marketing techniques, with sicker patients likely being dumped into the public plan. The result is the public plan would face higher costs and the likelihood of having to cut or ration services to stay financially afloat.

PDA and NNOC/CNA are asking people to continue to call Congress and the White House to insist that single-payer healthcare, and the single-payer bills in Congress, HR 676 in the House and S 703 in the Senate, be given equal consideration in the legislative review process this summer.

The two organizations have worked together since early last year on a variety of healthcare projects, including passing an amendment to the Democratic National Party platform in "support of guaranteed health care for all" at the national convention in Denver, campaigns on behalf of single-payer candidates across the country in the fall, and rallies and forums in cities throughout the U.S.

"The time is ripe for real reform--for our personal well-being and for the sake of our great nation--now is the time to institute a real healthcare system instead of tweaking the patchwork of corporate non-care that now envelopes us," said /CNA Co-President Geri Jenkins, RN.

Jenkins attended the ABC White House Town Hall meeting with President Obama on healthcare reform last night, along with Patty Eakin, RN, President of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals and a NNOC/CNA Board member.

"As long as a profit-motive is the centerpiece of our system, as it is and will be with healthcare corporations calling the shots, we entertain no notion that a public option will be the fix that so many Americans desperately need and want," Jenkins said. "Medicare-for-all is the only solution to what ails us."

"Regardless of the claims that the majority of people want a "public option," what most people really want is a system of healthcare that covers everybody, and they believe the government can do a better job of it than the healthcare corporations can. It’s time for Congress to stop nibbling around the edges of reform and provide real leadership toward enacting healthcare reform for the people, instead of yet another windfall for wealthy corporations," said Tim Carpenter national director of PDA.

The Healthcare NOT Warfare campaign presses forward with a "Week of Action for Medicare-for-All--H.R. 676." Participating organizations will make calls to Congress asking representatives to provide leadership in the healthcare debate. On July 30, the 44th anniversary of Medicare will be celebrated with a rally and lobby day in Washington DC.