This just in, courtesy of my uber-liberal progressive (read: most misguided) friend. The House is planning to amend HR 3200 and replace it with HR 676 to create a national single-payer health plan.
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August 5, 2009
Dear PNHP Members and Friends,
Last Friday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi committed to bringing single-payer to a vote before the full House of Representatives when the chamber reconvenes to debate national health care reform in September.
The vote will come in the form of an amendment to the House Leadership’s incremental health legislation. The amendment, offered by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), would effectively remove the entire existing health plan and replace it with the text of H.R. 676, Rep. John Conyers’ single-payer legislation. (click here to see the text of the amendment).
This vote presents a truly historic opportunity – the first time that single-payer will be voted on in the Congress. (See the news release below).
PNHP and allied groups are now marshaling our forces to win maximum support for the Weiner single-payer amendment. We’re launching a new national campaign staffed by Ali Thebert and Nicholas Skala to make sure that members of Congress hear from their physician constituents that single payer is the only solution to the U.S. health care crisis.
In other news, PNHPer Dr. David Scheiner has been appearing in the media nationwide. Dr. Scheiner was Obama’s personal physician for 22 years until Obama became president. He was also the medical partner of PNHP National Coordinator Dr. Quentin Young for 30 years.
Dr. Scheiner has criticized the Obama health plan and called for single payer instead in media outlets ranging from Forbes magazine to Lou Dobbs to FOX News.
Dr. Scheiner will appear on “Real Time with Bill Maher” on Friday, August 7 at 10:00 Eastern on HBO. Be sure to tune in!
Other PNHP leaders have taken to the airwaves, including Margaret Flowers, Oliver Fein, Garrett Adams, Claudia Fegan and Andy Coates. Please exert every effort to speak out yourself, including through letters to the editor and op-eds.
For those of you who need help understanding the details of the various reform plans coming out of the House and Senate, the Kaiser Family Foundation has a side-by-side comparison tool for all proposals, including the House (HR 676) and Senate (HR 703) single-payer bills. (Click here for the Kaiser tool).
House vote on single payer will be historic first, doctors’ group says
Physicians call on lawmakers to ‘do the right thing’ on health reform
Hailing last week’s pledge by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to hold a floor debate and vote on single-payer health reform this fall, a group of 16,000 physicians is launching an intensified campaign to educate lawmakers about the urgency of a “Medicare-for-All” solution to the nation’s health care crisis.
Leaders of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) say their campaign includes a stepped-up program of visits by doctors to House members in their home districts during the August recess.
Last Friday’s commitment by Pelosi (D-Calif.) to Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) to put hissingle-payer amendment to H.R. 3200, the House leadership’s health reform bill, to an up-or-down vote before the full House has set the stage for first-ever floor vote of its kind. The House debate on the amendment could begin as early as September.
“Single payer has gone from being ‘off the table’ to ‘on the floor,'” said Dr. Quentin Young, national coordinator of PNHP. “This dramatic turn of events is a striking indicator of our success. It shows the House leadership recognizes the strong public support – including among doctors – for removing the wasteful insurance company middlemen from our health system and redirecting the resultant savings into care.”
Weiner’s amendment would delete most of the language of in the House bill and instead substitute language from H.R. 676, the single-payer bill introduced by Reps. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio).
The Weiner amendment, unlike the House leadership’s bill, assures universal, comprehensive, and high-quality coverage, free choice of doctor and hospital, and no co-pays or deductibles through a publicly financed system similar to Medicare. Young said that because of massive savings on private insurance overhead and paperwork, the amendment would entail no increase in U.S. health spending, in contrast to the House bill’s $1 trillion price tag over 10 years.“By recapturing the administrative waste associated with our present multi-payer, for-profit private insurance system, estimated to be $400 billion annually, a single-payer program would have more than enough resources to cover everyone who lacks insurance now and to upgrade everyone else’s,” he said.
“A single-payer system would also possess strong cost-control tools like bulk purchasing of drugs, negotiation of fees and global budgeting, controls that are notably absent in the House bill,” he said.
Young says many union, civic and faith-based groups will be watching how lawmakers vote with an eye to the 2010 election cycle. “Lawmakers now have a golden opportunity to stand up for the best interests of their constituents, to rebuff the private, for-profit health insurance industry, and assure the health of our nation,” he said.
He continued: “Many members of Congress – including Speaker Pelosi – have told constituents that they personally support a single-payer, Medicare-for-all approach, but claim they can’t vote for it because it’s not politically feasible. Yet polls that show they would have the public’s support for such a stand. Now we’ll be watching to see whether their votes match their words.”
Single-payer bills have been introduced in Congress repeatedly over the past 60 years – starting with the Wagner-Murray-Dingell bill in the 1940s, and including the Kennedy-Griffiths bill of the 1970s and the Wellstone, McDermott and Russo bills of the 1990s – but none has ever reached the floor of the House or Senate.
Physicians for a National Health Program (www.pnhp.org) is an organization of 16,000 doctors who advocate for single-payer national health insurance.
Several leaders of PNHP have testified before congressional committees in the present health reform debate. (See links below). To interview any of these or other spokespersons, please call (312) 782-6006.
Testimony of Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., M.P.H., on medical bankruptcy and health reform before the Subcommittee on Administrative and Commercial Law
Testimony of Dr. Woolhandler before the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, July 24
Testimony of Quentin Young, M.D., M.A.C.P., before the House Ways and Means Committee, June 24
Testimony of Margaret Flowers, M.D., before the Senate HELP Committee, June 11
Testimony of David U. Himmelstein, M.D. before the HELP Subcommittee, April 23
August 5, 2009Dear Colleagues, We write to invite you to attend the Annual Meeting of Physicians for a National Health Program on Saturday, October 24, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It will be preceded by our popular Leadership Training course, starting at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, October 23, at the Harvard Faculty Club.Registration for the Annual Meeting is now on-line at www.pnhp.org/meeting. To register for leadership training (space is limited), please call Matt Petty at 312-782-6006.
The theme of the meeting is “Evidence-based or market-based health reform? Health Policy in the Obama Era” with health economist William Hsiao, Dr. Marcia Angell (former editor, NEJM), PNHP co-founders Drs. David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler, PNHP President Dr. Oliver Fein, T.R. Reid (“Sick Around the World”), former Cigna executive Wendell Potter, and more.
The conference hotel is the Royal Sonesta (617-806-4200, $209 single/double reserve by September 23), with leadership training at the nearby Harvard Faculty Club.
PNHP is committed to promoting fundamental health care reform over the long term. Although proposals based on mandating that individuals purchase private insurance (like HR 3200) have the backing of the powerful drug and insurance lobbies (PhRMA alone has already spent $17 million on supportive ads), they certainly won’t solve the health care crisis. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that we’ve seen our single-payer proposal go from being “off the table” (Senator Max Baucus) to being “on the floor,” with a commitment from Speaker Nancy Pelosi to a full House vote on single payer in the form of the Weiner amendment after the recess (see press release, enclosed).
PNHPers have played a leading role in this historic development, testifying before committees in the House and the Senate on single payer, and before the House Judiciary committee on medical bankruptcy, and making numerous media appearances, including on Bill Moyers, Bill Maher, Fox News, CNN, Colbert, Ed Schultz, Democracy Now, and more.
This surge in media and congressional interest was almost certainly triggered by the courageous and dignified acts of civil disobedience before the Senate Finance Committee by PNHPers, nurses, and citizen activists in May.
As the administration’s inadequate proposals are either enacted or rejected, our single-payer proposal takes on even more importance as the only remedy for the health care crisis.
Please join us as we assess the status of health reform and plan PNHP’s policy and strategy for the future.
SEC. 104. PROHIBITION AGAINST DUPLICATING COVERAGE.
(a) IN GENERAL.-It is unlawful for a private health insurer to sell health insurance coverage that duplicates the benefits provided under this division.
The CBO is going to have a field day, since little is mentioned beyond a “global budget” to pay all of the doctors, nurses, other staffs, and “capital expenditures” associated with providing the entire country with medical care. Funding will come from:
- Existing sources of Federal Government revenues for health care.
- Increasing personal income taxes on the top 5 percent income earners.
- Instituting a modest and progressive excise tax on payroll and self-employment income.
- Instituting a small tax on stock and bond transactions.
- Money that would have been spent for Federal public health care programs, including
- the Medicare program
- the Medicaid program
- the Children’s Health Insurance Program
So, punk, you feeling “extremist” yet? You think your unrepresenting representative is going to vote “yes” for this? There are those who just might. Or it could be a ploy to incite so much anger that HR 3200 and whatever ends up coming out of the Senate committee appears almost reasonable in comparison.
Don’t be fooled. Don’t let your guard down, no matter what kind of names the Democrats want to call us.