Saturday, March 24, 2007

Everybody Needs to Know about What Happens in Las Vegas

Today in Las Vegas 7 Presidential Candidates took to the stage to talk about their plans for universal health care. I knew there was a huge problem with terms when the sponsors of the forum, pleased with how wide-reaching consensus was, announced that almost everybody was in favor of Universal Coverage from workers to employers to insurance companies.

Insurance companies? The ones that take 30% of each health care dollar and keep it for themselves? (Even though it only takes 3% to administer a health plan?) The ones that refer to the 70% that goes to paying for actual care, treatments and medicines as losses? Those insurance companies?

And then Representative Dennis Kucinich explained the part that makes the difference between what I mean by universal health care and what the other candidates and the insurance companies mean by universal health care.


Kucinich told us that, "Today at this forum, the sub-message is that you can't break the hold that insurance companies have. Not a single candidate...has challenged the underlying problem in our heath care system, and that is that insurance companies are holding our health care system hostage and forcing millions of Americans into poverty with unconscionable premiums, co-pays, deductibles.

So I ask you, is it consonant with America's greatness that candidates step away from the one solution that could change it all? A not-for-profit health care system is not only possible, but HR 676... the Conyers-Kucinich bill actually establishes Medicare for All. A single-payer system and it is a not-for profit system. It's time we ended this thought that health care is a priviledge. It is a basic right and it's time we ended the control insurance companies have not only over health care but over our political system.

...This patchwork proposal that you've been given here today by the other candidates locks us into insurance companies who then take their pound of flesh."

Kucinich goes on to say, "Even the insurance companies are for universal health care, especially the insurance companies, if the government subsidizes them. What a deal it is for the insurance companies! But what a rotten deal it is for the American people! We've got to have not-for-profit health care. Get the insurance companies out of the picture. Health care is not a priviledge, it is a right. And it is a human right." (Watch all of Representative Kucinich's remarks:

The line has been drawn in the sand. Do we want a health care system that benefits the health and well-being of Americans? Or do we want a system that subsidizes the very companies that already make getting health care in America so inequitable and so hard: the insurance companies?

History has shown us that when Americans get anxious and active about a topic, things happen. Slaves are liberated, women get the vote, child labor is banned. In every case, the "powers that be" give the impression that change from the status quo is not possible,not even thinkable. But in every case, someone says, "Yes it is," and reform begins.

How about you lend you voice to this cause?

The following is the letter I sent to my representatives in Congress telling them I want Medicare for All. I used the template suggested by Physicians for a National Health Program ( which you can likewise use and modify to fit your situation:

Dear Representative,

I write as a constituent - and as a registered nurse who serves our state - to express my support for not-for-profit, single-payer national health insurance and to urge you to co-sponsor HR 676, the U.S. National Health Insurance Act.

As a nurse, I see the results of our health care crisis every day. More than 46 million Americans are uninsured. Even for those lucky enough to have insurance, rising costs and deteriorating coverage cause more than one-in-four (28 percent) to go without needed care because they can't afford it. Indeed, of the one million Americans bankrupted by medical bills annually, more than three-quarters had insurance when they got sick.

My own daughter does have insurance but has endured 5+ months of denials by her insurance company, unable to get the care she needs for her complex problems. We pay the pricey premiums, but she is denied by the clerks at the insurance company the pain-relieving care she has a right to. Although she is only 29, she is unable to work due to the pain associated with this illness. There is no social safety net for her though thankfully her father and I are able to cover her living expenses. But none of this would have been necessary had she been able to get the care available, yet denied to her. Insurance companies are making billions of dollars on the backs of hard working Americans like my family. This is the state of our health care system today and it is completely unacceptable.

For-profit insurance companies are a leech and a drain on our system. They must be taken out of the mix.

Single-payer national health insurance would save enough on administrative paperwork - more than $300 billion per year - to provide comprehensive coverage to all Americans. It would provide full choice of doctor and hospital for patients, and unleash hospitals, physicians, and other health care providers from arbitrary corporate dictates over patient care. It would control the health expenses currently crippling our economy and provide for a wholesome revitalization of our democratic values.

Please join with the 70 percent of Americans who support a non-profit, single-payer universal health care plan for America as articulated in HR 676.

Sue Cannon

"You are the ones who have to insist that America reconnect with it's goodness." Dennis Kucinich

Let's get insisting!


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