Healthcare Professionals for Healthcare Reform

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PNHP is gearing up for the fight and so should we!

One of our members sent me this “email alert” from PNHP, the major group advocating single payer health coverage. It underscores the need for us, a much smaller and yet unrecognized group to consider doing the same for EMBRACE:

February 24, 2009

Dear PNHP Colleagues,

We have some good news, some bad news, and some breaking news!

The good news is that single-payer legislation (H.R. 676) was reintroduced in the 111th Congress on Jan. 26. Supported by 94 representatives in the 110th Congress, the bill is now backed by a new alliance of physicians, nurses, unions and grassroots groups with a base of over 20 million Americans and growing!

The bad news is that Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chair of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, will not allow consideration of single payer as an option for reform, and Sen. Kennedy (D-Mass.) is, by all indications, poised to promote the flawed Massachusetts health plan at the national level after months of secret meetings with insurance, business, and pharmaceutical company lobbyists.

The breaking news is that PNHP is co-hosting a briefing to refute the Massachusetts model and to promote single payer on Capitol Hill tomorrow (Wednesday, Feb. 25). The congressional forum will be webcast live on our web site at starting at 2 p.m. EST, with PNHP founder Dr. David Himmelstein as the first speaker(the forum will be posted for viewing later as well). Last week, PNHP released, with Public Citizen, a report on the Massachusetts plan, along with a letter to Sen. Kennedy signed by 500 physicians and other health professionals in the state, calling on him to return to his earlier support for single payer.

While President Obama has acknowledged that single payer is the best option for reform, and while he opposed a mandate requiring all individuals to purchase private insurance during his campaign, it would appear he is poised to embrace the piecemeal, incrementalist approach that keeps the private insurance industry in place. He may outline more details about his stance tonight when he appears on television to address the nation about the budget. As John Nichols blogged for The Nation, single payer national health insurance would be a huge help to the automakers and the economy as a whole.

In this environment, PNHPers across the country are challenging the “inside the beltway” mentality that believes only incremental reform that retains (or “bails out”) the insurance industry is possible. Dr. John Benziger, Dr. John Geyman, Dr. Laura Boylanand PNHP President Dr. Oliver Feinare among the many PNHPers who are writing and publishing op-eds and letters-to-the-editor in support of single payer. Several PNHPers have garnered endorsements from their city councils, most recently in Seattle. And PNHPers from coast to coast responded to the call to host house parties and send messages in support of single payer to Obama over the holidays.

What you can do:

  1. Urge your member of Congress to co-sponsor H.R. 676 (in the House) or encourage hearings on single payer (in the Senate). There are useful lobbying materials at, and PNHP staff can help you set up an appointment: contact Danielle Alexander at There will be a national call-in day for H.R. 676 on April 15 (but you don’t have to wait until then!). Plan to visit with your member of Congress during the April 6-17 Easter recess when lawmakers will be at work in their home districts. You may also write them online.
  2. Submit an op-ed or letter to the editor. Feel free to use any PNHP materials as starting points – especially Dr. Don McCanne’s single payer “quote of the day.”
  3. Speak out in support of single payer. PNHP has slide sets available for this purpose to members at The password is “fein.”
  4. Encourage grassroots groups to join the new national single payer alliance, The Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care. Requests may be sent to staffer Katie Robbins at

For many years, PNHP has been inspired by a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and most inhuman.” Lately we have found a new quote from Dr. King that seems very fitting for the newest phase of our struggle: “Although social change cannot come overnight, we must always work as though it were a possibility in the morning.”

In many ways their fight is our fight, since in many ways EMBRACE is a single payer plan that acknowledges that private coverage will grow in any system; either outside the system as in most single payer plans or within the system as in our plan.

As with PNHP, I think we should be writing op-eds and presenting talks about EMBRACE as a politically viable compromise for all of us who believe in evidence based universal health care. I will try to get our slide presentation up on the website, but until then if anyone wants a set please email a request to:


February 25, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment