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Single Payer Election Stress Syndrome? - Single-Payer Healthcare - A Series - Part 35 By Marilyn Clement, National Coordinator, Healthcare-NOW

Over the past two weeks I have received a lot of email from people who are depressed, realizing that neither the Democratic or Republican candidates are yet supporting guaranteed quality single-payer healthcare for all. They want to know “Who is better? Obama or Clinton?”

What is obvious to all of us is that neither of them is willing to utter the “S” word – Single-payer. They have been terrified by the traditionalist Washington Beltway groups who insist that single-payer is “not feasible.” That we must wait until we have a really progressive government in place before we can hope to push forward for a healthcare system that would eliminate the role of the insurance companies. They are willing to wait another four to eight years or more to begin working for single-payer. 

However, more and more people know that the insurance companies are killing people – every day. The new statistics show that 101,000 people in the U.S. die unnecessarily from illness – far more than any of the single-payer countries that provide healthcare for all their people - no questions asked. 

Who is going to bell the cat? Millions of new people are joining us who want real change in this system of privatization and denial. Isn’t this the perfect time for us to be saying to Clinton and Obama and McCain that we insist on single-payer, a healthcare system that works for all of us, that will not deny anyone based on ability to pay?

MY ANSWER to all the people who want to know who is better is to say that all of them have defective healthcare programs. Hillary Clinton supports the atrocious individual mandate program introduced in Massachusetts and California by Republic governors Romney and Schwarzenegger. It is also supported by the Heritage Foundation and the insurance companies who are making a killing off the fact that the government of Massachusetts is criminalizing anyone in the state who does not purchase insurance from them. Many of those in Massachusetts are being forced to pay penalties even though they still don’t have any health insurance. Ms Clinton almost got it right in one of the debates when she said, well, if people were not required to participate, the Medicare and Social Security programs wouldn’t work. 

Of course, the difference is that Medicare and Social Security serve everybody without denials because they are programs that belong to us, the citizens. We ought to have Medicare handling our national healthcare system.

But Barack Obama did not pick up on that opening. It would have been a perfect opportunity to say, “Then why don’t we go for Medicare for All? It would cost less and provide more!” He didn’t do it.  He, too, is requiring everyone to purchase insurance, even when he talks about his plan that would allow everyone to participate in the Federal Employees program – a program that provides everybody with a list of private insurance companies from whom they must purchase their insurance.

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To be fair, both Hillary and Barack talk about some kind of public plan too. No details yet. Unfortunately, you can bet your bottom dollar that the insurance companies will not allow a public program to be a really competitive program that would attract virtually everybody to go for public healthcare with no denials, no premiums, co-pays or deductibles. The truth is, it would cost billions of dollars less if we removed the insurance companies and their profits, lobbyists, advertising, to provide better healthcare for everybody.


Big question. But we should be clear that we don’t have to wait any longer. “We are the ones we have been waiting for,” to quote June Jordan and Miss Ella Baker of the civil rights movement. We have work to do, right now. 

We must elect new progressive congress members in every Congressional District or re-elect those who are already supporting single-payer national healthcare and opposing the war. They must hear our loud demand that we want “Healthcare – Not Warfare.” We can elect these people. If you are in a district where no one is running against a bad Congress member, run a candidate in opposition. Even if the primary is over in your district, run a write-in candidate. This is our year to win! But we can’t win it if we are not in it. I can’t urge you strongly enough. A number of candidates have dropped out of the race – Bush supporters who see the handwriting on the wall. More will do so. Anything can happen. In the meantime, more and more single-payer people are throwing their hats into the ring. 

This commentary is going out to an additional 10,000 people this time. People have been sending their lists to us to invite people to join. 

So, here’s the deal. Our national activist list is going to be organizing debates and truth hearings, demonstrations in front of insurance companies, memorial vigils remembering those who have died because of insurance company denials, conferences in Boston, Oakland and Minneapolis to help us learn about healthcare as a human right and to be able to articulate the problems with the individual mandate programs.

Please get involved yourself and send us the contacts for your friends and neighbors, relatives and email buddies if they too would like to work for a single-payer national healthcare system right now in this strategic period. We will connect them to the campaign being organized by some of the student groups working in healthcare clinics nationwide and/or the healthcare-now activists working in communities nationwide, organizing candidate debates and truth hearings. Just send names to me directly at We need names, addresses and emails. We will return to you and each of your friends a Tool Kit for Organizing - with critical information about contacts in their community and their Congressional District number.

If you can’t help us with the organizing, please send a contribution. Just go to our website, and hit DONATE NOW. This may be the most important gift you ever gave in this important time in our history, maybe the best chance we will have within the next twenty years or even in our lifetime to get a guaranteed national single-payer healthcare system. 

Think about how fabulous it would be to have a healthcare system where NO ONE IS EVER DENIED! And where our money is going to healthcare, not corporate profits. To read about H.R. 676.  Go to

Way to go folks! Don’t give up. Don’t give in to despair. This is a goooood time to do this work because our organizing work is paying off. Are there still naysayers? Sure, but negatives aside, we are on a roll! Popular fighting Senator Sheila Khuel of California said recently, “ Single-payer Unfeasible? Only if you are not willing to fight the insurance companies!”  

Let’s go for it! READ Insurance Has Failed Us, by Laura McClure.  Much love and support to all of you, 1-800-453-1305

Marilyn Clement is the National Coordinator of Healthcare-NOW. Click here to contact Ms. Clement and Healthcare-NOW.

Click here to read any of the articles in this special BC series on Single-Payer Healthcare.

Your comments are always welcome.

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February 21, 2008
Issue 265

is published every Thursday

Executive Editor:
Bill Fletcher, Jr.
Peter Gamble
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