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Statement of Katie Robbins, assistant national coordinator of Healthcare-NOW!

July 30th, 2009

Statement of Katie Robbins, assistant national coordinator of Healthcare-NOW!

As President Obama says, “We must build on what works and leave out what doesn’t.” Medicare, a single-payer program made right here in America, has a successful track record of nearly half a century, with polls consistently showing clear majority support of the public and physicians for Medicare for all. President Obama also stated at a recent press conference in Cleveland that single-payer is the only way to cover everyone. We agree, and ask that he implement a single-payer system as not only the best, but the only way to meet his goals for quality, affordable health care for all Americans. Medicare is indeed a home-grown solution to our health care crisis.

Healthcare-NOW! and the Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care, a coalition of organizations and activists who believe that health care is a human right, not tied to the ability to pay, will be holding a rally at Upper Senate Park today at 1 p.m. in support of single-payer national health care. Today’s significance, in addition to the Congressional debate over health reform, is Medicare’s 44th birthday.

Today, people, unions, faith leaders, human rights advocates and medical professionals from across the country with buses from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky will be descending on Capitol Hill to lobby and rally for this much-needed relief to a worsening health care crisis that only a single-payer or “Medicare for all” system will provide. The coalition will call for an elimination of the profit interests in the industry and in Medicare, and the expansion of the publicly funded system to include everyone. This could be done through the passage of H.R. 676 or S. 703, two pieces of single-payer legislation with growing support in the public and in Congress.

Despite the corporate lobby spending $1.4 million a day to persuade Congress that there is no need for publicly funded health care, we know that a strong movement is needed to move Congress and show that the American people want publicly funded, privately delivered healthcare in the form of Medicare for all.

The rally will feature single-payer leaders, including Congressmen Conyers [D-Michigan], Massa [D-N.Y.], Kucinich [D-Ohio], Weiner [D-N.Y.], and Sen. Sanders [I-Vt.]. State Sen. Mark Leno [D-Calif.] and Jim Ferlo[D-Pa] will join us speak out on the struggle states face in meeting health care needs during their own budget crises. Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, Barbara Ehrenreich, author and activist, and Dr. Scheiner, Obama’s personal physician of 22 years, will speak out for Medicare for all to thousands of activists from across the country. Dr. Ogan Gurel, who recently walked across six states for 30 days listening to the stories of Americans and the health care crisis, will share with us that the demand for universal health care is reaching a fever pitch throughout the country.  Other personal stories will be shared and the support from labor, faith groups and more will come together by calling for its expansion to all U.S. citizens as the mandatory step in achieving the right to health care in the United States.

After the rally, activists will take to the Hill for lobby meetings to ask for co-sponsorship of single-payer bills, a fair analysis from the Congressional Budget Office of single-payer bills and an end to campaign contributions from the insurance industry.

Supporters of a single-payer system recognize that the bills currently under discussion will not end the unnecessary deaths due to the denial of needed care or medical bankruptcies.  As we honor Medicare for its 44 years of service, we recognize that achieving the right to health care for all people must continue to be the focus of this day and the future of this movement.