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HR 676, The National Health Insurance Act-- Call your Representative!


I've been following a group called Moms Rising founded by Joan Blades, co-founder of Moveon.org and Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner author of the book, The F Word: Feminism in Jeopardy, since I first heard about them a few months ago. They have centered their efforts on a concise, yet comprehensive 6-point platform M.O.T.H.E.R.--
Maternity/Paternity Leave,
Open Flexible Work,
TV We Choose and Other After School Programs,
Healthcare for All Kids, Excellent Childcare,
and Realistic and Fair Wages.

Here's an email I got from them this morning:
Dear MomsRising Member -

For the past couple of weeks we've been e-mailing you about the current state of healthcare in America. Now we're highlighting a specific bill in Congress, The National Health Insurance Act, which is a single-payer national health plan. This bill needs the support of citizens like you in order to gain momentum.

Frankly, real healthcare solutions have been in gridlock for far too long. This bill, for example, was first introduced in 2003, and while it has 75 co-sponsors, there is not nearly enough momentum yet for passage.

TAKE ACTION NOW: Let your U.S. Representative know you support HR 676, The National Health Insurance Act--and that it's time for a real healthcare solution, not just another band-aid fix. Congressional leaders have to be able to overcome the demands of the powerful insurance and pharmaceutical industries, and to do this they must know citizens stand behind them.

HOW TO CALL: To contact your U.S. Representative, just call the main U.S. Congress switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be transferred to the appropriate office. If you're not sure who's representing you now, go to: www.house.gov to find out.

*Want to know if your Representative is signed on to the bill as a co-sponsor? Go to: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d109:HR00676:@@@P. If your leader has signed on, then please thank them and let them know you'll be behind them all the way. If your leader hasn't yet signed on, then let them know universal healthcare coverage is a priority for you and your family.

TALKING POINTS: You can tell your U.S. Representative-

1. I support HR 676, The National Health Insurance Act, a single-payer national health plan. This Act provides full coverage for every American for ALL medically necessary services: doctor, hospital, long-term care, mental health, dental, vision, prescription drugs and medical supplies. With passage of this Act there wouldn't be anymore insurance premiums, deductibles, or co-pays.

2- The United States spends more on healthcare per person than any other nation in the world, yet ranks in at a low 37th of all nations in childhood mortality of children to age five. We aren't getting much for the money we spend. It's time for a change.

3- It's unconscionable that 46 million Americans are without health coverage, and many are dying from treatable diseases.

4- Many businesses are relocating to Canada or other countries with universal coverage to avoid the high costs of healthcare here.

ABOUT THE LEGISLATION: This plan provides full coverage for all medically necessary services, and also gives everyone full choice of doctor and hospital because it isn't managed by the insurance companies. This single-payer national health insurance plan would recover the one-third of our health care dollars currently wasted on the paperwork generated by our private insurance system, and save money currently spent on high executive salaries. A single-payer national health insurance program, such as the one outlined in HR 676, puts the coverage and control back in the hands of citizens.

Let's get to work and fix our failing healthcare system. And, please tell your friends about MomsRising, so they too can join us supporting action on these issues.

Best - The MomsRising Team

p.s. Read a recent San Diego Union-Tribune Op-Ed piece about the single-payer health care system: http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20060721/news_lz1e21duerks.html .

p.p.s. HR 676 is adapted from a plan written by doctors from the group Physicians for a National Health Program. For more information on a single-payer plan, or to request a speaker for your group, visit www.pnhp.org or e-mail info@pnhp.org.

Definitely check out the Physicians for a National Health Program website. They have great articles like, Disputing the Myth that Canada's Healthcare is 'Communism' and Paying for National Health Insurance-- and Not Getting It: Taxes pay for a larger share of U.S. health care than most Americans think they do. Read, read, read!

Getting back to the Moms Rising site, they have great excerpts from Blades and Rowe-Finkbeiner's book The Motherhood Manifesto: What America's Moms Want and What to Do about It. Here's a pertinent chapter on Health care:
Chapter 5: Healthcare for All Kids

The family—fully insured, with Sharon’s husband basically working the equivalent of two full-time jobs--was losing the battle of the medical bills. “When Zach was diagnosed with a primary immune deficiency we knew it wasn’t going to end,” Sharon recalls. “We already had re-mortgaged our house to pay for medical bills—so when we found out how much the new treatment was going to cost we knew we couldn’t pay our higher mortgage payment, the cost of his medicines, and other costs every month.” That was the breaking point.

Sharon and Arnold finally waved the white flag of surrender when it became clear that there simply weren’t enough hours in the workweek to keep up with the constant incoming flow of bills. They made an appointment with an attorney to declare bankruptcy.

“The attorney cried when we told him what had been happening with us. My husband really needed that because when we went there it was just breaking him. His theory was that he could just keep working more,” recalls Sharon. But there weren’t any more hours in the week left to work.

Medical issues are a leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States. A February 2005 study published in the journal Health Affairs, authored by a well-respected team of experts that includes several Harvard University professors, found that families like Sharon’s are part of a growing trend of medical bankruptcies. In fact, half of all bankruptcy filings in 2001 were related to medical issues.

And medical related bankruptcies are skyrocketing. There’s been a twenty-threefold (2,300 percent) increase in medical related bankruptcy filings between 1981, when only 8 percent of bankruptcies were medical related, and 2001. And, it turns out, these medical related bankruptcies look a lot like what Sharon’s family experienced—most of those who went bankrupt had health insurance (a full 76 percent had insurance when their illness started), and those filing for bankruptcy are “predominantly in the middle or working classes.”

“Our study is frightening. Unless you’re Bill Gates, you’re just one serious illness away from bankruptcy,” notes Dr. David Himmelstein, the lead author of the study and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard in a Harvard Medical School Office of Public Affairs press release. “Most of the medically bankrupt were average Americans who happened to get sick.

Health insurance offered little protection. Families with coverage faced unaffordable co-payments, deductibles, and bills for uncovered items like physical therapy, psychiatric care, and prescription drugs. And even the best job-based health insurance often vanished when prolonged illness caused job loss precisely when families needed it most. Too often, private health insurance is an umbrella that melts in the rain.”

And to further beat the drums for single payer health insurance and how important it is to American families, I saw Morgan Spurlock and his fiance Alex on Oprah in a segment of his FX channel show, 30 days called Minimum Wage: Working Poor for 30 Days. If you haven't heard about his show, he's the filmmaker of Super Size Me Fame, and he continues the themes of that film by taking on the lives of others in society (mostly poor) for 30 days. They showed how even working long hours at minimum wage provided no security if medical expenses wiped out all their gains. Since, they didn't have healthcare for the month, the couple had to seek treatment in the Emergency Room and quickly found themselves in a mountain of debt.
Living without medical insurance is like "living right on the edge of a knife every single day," Morgan says. As they found out, it can lead to financial ruin overnight.

Morgan says manual labor had aggravated a wrist injury, but he couldn't afford a doctor's visit. When he tried to visit a free clinic, he was told there weren't enough doctors to see him that day.

The free clinic was not even an option when Alex woke up in the middle of the night with a urinary tract infection. They went to the emergency room and to a 24-hour pharmacy to fill Alex's prescription. Later that day, the pain in Morgan's wrist forced him to go to the emergency room as well.

The bills from the emergency room were enough to significantly harm their budget. "We went to the hospital to get Alex's bill. Just for walking into the emergency room it was $300," Morgan said. "My bill? Just to walk in the door, $551. It's incredible."

So, let's support Congressman Conyer's bill, H.R. 676
The United States National Health Insurance Act
!
Jacqueline Keeler
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1 comment:

Susan Gleason said...

You might be interested in the new issue of YES! Magazine (Issue #39, Fall 2006) -- "Health Care for All".

You'll find the lead article here, by YES! editors Sarah van Gelder and Doug Pibel:
"Health Care -- It's What Ails Us"
http://www.yesmagazine.org/article.asp?ID=1498

And an index to over 12 additional articles, graphs, and resources on the topic, here:
http://www.yesmagazine.org/article.asp?id=1501

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