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PNHP RESOURCES

Rep. Jim McDermott introduces The American Health Security Act of 2015

THE AMERICAN HEALTH SECURITY ACT OF 2015

By Rep. Jim McDermott
House of Representatives, March 2, 2015

Mr. MCDERMOTT. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce the American Health Security Act of 2015, legislation to provide comprehensive health coverage to every American and recognize that health care is a human right.

The Affordable Care Act was a dramatic step forward in improving the health security of the American people. This landmark law has expanded access to coverage, improved the solvency of our public programs, and made numerous reforms that have saved consumers billions of dollars. As we look for ways to build upon and strengthen the law, we must recognize that millions of Americans continue to fall through the cracks in the private health insurance market. The only way to truly en- sure that access to quality health care is a right enjoyed by every American is through a single-payer system.

The American Health Security Act builds upon the success of the Affordable Care Act by providing universal health coverage to all Americans. It creates a framework that allows states to administer their own universal health insurance systems, subject to rigorous federal standards. Benefits would be comprehensive, costs would be contained, and patients would have full choice of doctor and hospital. This universal model would put an end to the inequities that continue to plague our system and jeopardize the health security of American families.

https://www.congress.gov/crec/2015/03/02/CREC-2015-03-02-pt1-PgE286-2.pdf

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H.R.1200 - To provide for health care for every American and to control the cost and enhance the quality of the health care system.

All Bill Information (Except Text): https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/1200

Although the text of the bill has not yet been posted, I contacted Daniel Foster, Jim McDermott’s legislative aide for health, asking him if the text is the same as when it was introduced in the 113th Congress. His response: “Yes, the bill is largely the same as last time except for a few tweaks and some minor technical corrections.”

The line for the text of the version introduced in the 113th Congress can be used as a temporary resource until the current text is posted: https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/1200/text

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Comment:

By Don McCanne, MD

Rep. Jim McDemott has introduced, in the 114th Congress, H.R. 1200, The American Health Security Act of 2015, a slightly updated version of his legislation that would permit states to enact comprehensive, universal systems, such as single payer. In the 113th Congress, Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced S. 1782, The American Health Security Act of 2013, based on Rep. McDermott’s H.R.1200.

GovTrack.us gives a 0% chance of this bill being enacted. Any objective assessment of the current Congress would certainly lead us to the same conclusion. But that does not mean that we should simply give up and walk away. We will not have a bona fide single payer system in the United States, on either a state or federal level, without Congressional action.

Those of us at Physicians for a National Health Program support John Conyers’ H.R.676, which would establish a national single payer program (after all, “national” is in our name). Those who believe that we should follow the lead of Saskatchewan and first establish single payer on a state level may prefer H.R.1200/S.1782. Regardless, since these bills will not receive a vote in the current Congress, they should be used as advocacy pieces as we explain to the public why single payer is an imperative.

The ultimate goal is health care justice for everyone in the nation whether we move directly to a national program or we transition through state models of single payer. We certainly should continue to advocate for a national program, but, if an opportunity on the state level opens up, that should be pursued while simultaneously continuing to advocate for a national program.

State versus federal is a secondary issue. We’ll have neither unless the people understand and start demanding single payer. Let’s work on that.