Health Care for All/Single Payer February 17, 2009 Diane Shamis, National Issue Organizing Team/Legislative Policy Coordinator Proposed Agenda I. Report from the Hill (Joel Segal, Office of Congressman John Conyers) - Congressional Progressive Caucus to Put Private Insurance on Trial in Congress - Massachusetts Plan briefing next week II. Ramping up Congressional Lobbying Efforts to bring Co-Sponsors on HR 676 - review of changes in "National Health Care Act of 2009" introduced in 111th Congress - Distribution of flyers - building citizen lobbying delegations - New members - Review of Single Payer as Economic Stimulus Report of California Nurses Association III. Report on Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Healthcare - reaching out to new groups & meeting of Single Payer Caucus - Blue Ribbon Task Force on Single Payer (Donna Smith, PDA/American Patients United) IV. Documenting our Citizen Lobbying - Lorin Klugman to report on interactive component of PDA website devoted to HR 676 Diane: She asked people to send her a confirmation email that they were on the call at firstname.lastname@example.org, with your full name and congressional district, since so many people were on the call to do a roll call. Donna Smith is one of the co-chairs of Healthcare Not Warfare, as well as founder of American Patients United. She’ll discuss new single-payer caucus efforts. Joel Segal is Legislative Assistant to Rep. John Conyers, Chair of the Congressional Universal Health Care Task Force. He will review the specific changes to HR 676 in the 111th Congress, the United States National Health Care Act. Lorin Klugman will discuss how to get more people to participate in call-in days. Joel, how is this bill different from the last version? Diane: The distinction is that it’s managed by the federal government so there are no inconsistencies or differing types of care in regions. Joel: Please, everyone, keep in mind that we need to keep a respectful tone in this call. We need to be mindful of how we talk to one another. Diane: Joel also wants to talk about the Congressional Caucus. Paulette Garin, WI01: Now that they’ve changed the language on this, where can we find the new version? Joel: Go to Thomas and punch in HR 676 [ http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.676: ] and you’ll see the new text. It’s also on John Conyers’ site [ older version http://www.johnconyers.com/hr676text ]. But the new version is definitely on Thomas, the official Congressional Website. Paulette: She got beat up when campaigning for Congress, with many asking how will this get paid for and will it raise my taxes. How should she have responded? Claire: The cost of our healthcare is exacerbated by the paperwork that preoccupies the doctors. Single- payer reduces the paperwork by 600%. Diane: Go to the Leadership Conference site http://guaranteedhealthcare4all.org/ and find links to CA Nurses [ http://www.calnurse.org/ ], and also to Joel’s page that addresses funding directly [ http://conyers.house.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=Issues.Home&Issue_id=063b74a4-19b9-b4b1-126b- f67f60e05f8c ]. Paulette: But we need sound bites to be able to respond to challenges against. She has links to all the Leadership sites on her blog. Joel: We say we want to take what we spend on healthcare and instead of its going to insurance companies, it will go into Medicare or Social Security, with a 4.75% payroll tax, they will get way more value for the dollar in their healthcare from now. So everything you’re already paying for premiums will end up in Medicare. Please also speak to the Cong Progressive Caucus, and the hearing next week on the MA plan. Joel: There’s an HR 676 caucus that was re-launched last week, with the goal of getting higher numbers to sponsor the bill. There’s also a new Progressive Health Care task force to get members who believe in HR 676 and public insurance to make the case for Medicare for all and against private insurance. The MA briefing next week is to get information out about the MA plan and if it works or not, with a video of the critique that all people can see. Cindy Chapman: Lives in MA, and the system doesn’t really work, because people don’t have the extra cash to get the insurance. Employers who don’t provide insurance are not penalized. And the private insurance companies are still involved. And you’re required to go only to centralized place for care, and it’s terrible. Joel: Please write this up and send it to me. Eugene, NC: Talk to Patricia Jaelin who proposed eliminating the private insurers. She has studied this. There’s one healthcare insurer who claims they’re running at 10%, but they are not the norm in MA. Joel: The MA briefing will be very critical of the MA plan. Send him stories about problems with the MA plan to Joel.Segal@mail.house.gov. Diane: They’re having a briefing in MA, because Obama is trying to put that out as a model. Eugene: San Francisco should be the model. Diane: She’s sure that HR 676 will come up to show MA’s inadequacies. Joel: The state attempts are failures, so all roads lead to HR 676. They need to see that MA doesn’t get replicated at the national level. The briefing will discuss HR 676 in comparison. Diane: PDA and Healthcare-NOW, PNHP, etc. have all conducted call-in days and worked up strategies for getting more sponsors through strategic delegations during recesses and keeping the calls up. Any specific advice would be good. Joel: The calls being made are very effective. The health staffers call him and say they are being flooded. We should be maximizing and broadening our army at the CD level, and ask our representatives to join the HR 676 Caucus. Conyers feels that we need a national HR 676 town hall meeting, to listen to uninsured and underinsured people. Tell the representatives not to delay universal healthcare, no matter what the arguments: not enough money and so on. We need to tell them that we don’t want private insurance in the model. We should try to have all the town hall meetings within the space of a few days. Matthew Norris, 28th CA: How does this plan compare to the Health Care for America Now! (HCAN) incremental plan? Those who already have health insurance will be against HR 676. Diane: Donna Smith can show how HR 676 will be a boon to those who already have insurance coverage, because it will be more comprehensive. Joel: The overwhelming majority of doctors believe HR 676 is the optimal way to achieve universal health care, because the funds are pooled and the delivery system is nonprofit. The incremental system keeps private health insurance in the mix, though they claim it will ultimately end up as single-payer coverage. The French program has 80% of people covered under a Medicare-like system, and the last 20% are under regulated plans. If we keep having massive job layoffs, HR 676 might be the only thing that will work. Cindy Chapman, MA: People are afraid of the national system not only because they will pay more but because they think the quality of their care will go down. The quality of care now is dependent on your insurer. The quality of Medicaid care is abysmal, so we need to make sure that the quality of care is equal to or better than the quality of the highest-cost care now. Joel: These are the kinds of questions we get every day, and there’s been a lot of brainwashing from the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, and Fox News. The care in Europe and Canada is excellent, and we spend 77% more than Canada. If we put all that money into actual medical care, we’d have the Rolls Royce of health care. Care here can’t get worse; it can only get better. Jerry, ME: He’s in Rep. Chellie Pingree’s district. She’s putting out the idea of a national rally for HR 676. Joel: Rallies, marches, and protests are important, but it’s important who’s invited to them. Obama’s field coordinator was at the Families conference. He recommended taking 100 uninsured and underinsured people to a town hall, having media there, and the representative, and demanding that the representative sign on to the bill. Let them know that they won’t be reelected if they don’t. Art Richter: He is working on finding out how much people wouldn’t have to pay in taxes with single- payer. They’ve found they could reduce property local property taxes by 15 to 30% with employer payroll contributions of 4.5%. Is there a number for what the payroll deductions would be for employers and employees? Joel: The increase discussed is from 1.5% up 3% to 4.5%, though this isn’t in the bill right now. Art: If we can put the numbers out, we can compete against HCAN showing we can reduce state and local taxes with this contribution. Joel: We need to consider these kinds of things. Art and others teach our own activists to respond to the questions, because they’re afraid of change. Diane: One last question and then the blue-ribbon task force. Pete, AZ: Have you discussed the transition for employees of the private insurers to another role that won’t mean so many layoffs? Joel: One of the changes made in the bill addresses the question of what will happen to the insurance companies’ employees. There are 470,000 employees, according to PNHP. Those 470,000 for two years will make the same salary they made up before, to $100K. They have priority to be reemployed, and many can be hired by the system. There are billions of reimbursements made, and people can fill those roles. The Blue Ribbon Task Force is spearheaded by Quentin Young, David Rabin of Georgetown, and others who’ve put together economists with expertise in single-payer to come up with specifics of how much the bill will cost. This is the challenging question. We will then have those economists, doctors, and academics to a press briefing to explain this and show how it’s economically feasible. The argument is that it’s not politically feasible because it’s not economically feasible. The reconnaissance from Capitol Hill is that there will be a bill introduced in August, by which time the study will be completed. Diane: Thanks to Joel and he shows we have a lot of work ahead of us. Make sure you email Diane after this call with your full name, CD, and if you don’t know that, your representative. Joel: Call him at 202-225-5126 with any questions, because that’s what he’s there for. Diane: Donna Smith from the Healthcare Not Warfare team. She got the national democratic party platform changed to “guaranteed healthcare” rather than “access to insurance.” She was a PDA leader in CO, moved on to CA Nurses, and now is in DC. Donna: She wants to tell what’s going on in DC. The Leadership Conference has been actively meeting and doing call-ins. Next one is March 11, then the next on April 15. On the 25th of Feb will be the signle- payer open house in Rayburn Building in room 226. The Leadership Conference has more than 70 groups all working to move HR 676 forward. It’s an exciting time. The fact that we keep hearing leaders say that single-payer is off the table means it’s NOT off the table. Efforts are growing daily, but they still need to be ramped up. Tom Daschiell’s departure may or may not have an impact. Kennedy’s health may also have an impact, so there are lots of unknowns. The economy is shredding, and with it the possibility of any healthcare plan to be based on employers, so this gives us an opening. Go to the Leadership Conference Website and continue to get patient stories in . We need to get co-sponsors back up, and we’re at 42 now. Reach her at email@example.com. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a while for a response. She hears a lot about private insurance, that the quality will go down with single-payer. She used to think she had good coverage until she got cancer and her husband was ill. We’re told we’re insured, but we’re not. It doesn’t keep us safe. If you’re denied care or the care is altered according to coverage, you’re open to financial trauma. COBRA and other things are really unsure. She used to think it was better to keep what we know, but she learned better. Diane: Even if you have coverage, many medically necessary treatments are not. ? NJ: He’s curious about the impact of Tom Daschle. Donna: Can’t speak independently, because she was in favor of him. But others think it’s a good thing to get rid of the “incrementalist” with ties to lobbyists. The problem it leaves is that he had the ability to maneuver within the DC environment, and this is important. She doesn’t think it derails healthcare reform, but the void leaves open a worse person to replace him. Some support Dean, and some don’t. It’s also bad having HHS without a leader. It leaves questions open. ? NJ: She’s been following HR 676 for awhile and active in central NJ, and she understands it’s a process. But how long does Donna think it will take? Donna: There’s no other legislation currently crafted other than HR 676. Baucus only has a white paper, and it’s very open to attack. It’s inconsistent to humane treatment with levels of healthcare—bronze, silver, gold. Kennedy may be working on something. HR 676 is the only bill moving at all, even though it doesn’t have enough sponsors yet to make it to the floor. If there’s a competing bill put in, this could change things. If there’s no competition, there would be debate for a few months, then if it goes the way Obama wants, it’s in during the second year of his term. Scott, ME: Thought there was someone in the Senate ready to into a companion bill in the Senate. Has anyone been working on a strategy with the Blue Dogs? Donna: There’s a study of what would happen if Medicare went out to everyone that showed that it would undo a lot of the harm done in the economic downturn. We ask the Blue Dogs if we can to come to a meeting to discuss healthcare. Bernie Sanders might be moving forward with a Wellstone-like bill, but he’s had staff changes. It’s unclear what he’s doing. He wants support from fellow senators for a companion bill. Diane: Thanks to Donna and giving us a sense of what we need to do at the district level. We’re trying to organize meetings with representatives or staff members to get support for HR 676. We need to think of the people in our district who will represent our population: seniors, disabled, those impacted by private insurance. Kay: Up to 491 unions that have endorsed HR 676, most recently the Bluegrass Labor Council in KY. Labor support continues to grow. Her congressman, John Yarmouth, has said he will sign on and wants his aide to have a briefing. Jerry Costello, a fiscal conservative, is open to signing on. Diane: Go to the PDA Website and find out what you need. See what unions have endorsed in our districts and get them to come along. Also contact PNHP to find a doctor, and contact Donna to find a nurse. OpenSecrets.org shows who representatives’ donors are. Find a contributor who’s an HR 676 supporter. Kay: http://unionsforsinglepayerhr676.org/ shows union endorsers, with a list for each state. Diane: As you meet with the representatives, make reports on what happens at the meetings. We can share effective responses to show what worked, such as “What does it take to get a Blue Dog to sign on?” Lorin: Diane summarized a lot. http://Guaranteedhealthcare4all.org has a list or organizers in each area. The system will collect empirical data to help lobbying efforts. We can post upcoming visits coming to gather other citizens. It allows coordinators to report on the visit and measure its effectiveness. Report on phone campaigns. Report on what representatives are saying, to do further strategic planning. If you want to contact him, use the contact forms or at firstname.lastname@example.org. ?: There are maybe 30 or 40 organizers now, so we need more volunteers. Lorin: They don’t allow just anyone to report, so that nothing gets infused with garbage. It’s vetted. Mike, OH: The system works and is good. Everyone should use it. ?: Do we report only visits or on conversations with staffers? Lorin: A congressional visit doesn’t have to be with the representative. Staff counts. So there are a couple of different kinds of reports. A visit is face to face. Then there are telephone call-ins to report on, and you go to your district and file a single report on how many people called and what the response was. The measurement is then applied for advocacy. We can also report, if they are opposed, what kinds of talking points the aide used so we can counter those. Laurel: How do you want this information? Lorin: Have people volunteer to be CDPPs in their areas, and they are responsible for organizing, visits, and going to the site and entering the reports. Someone can represent more than one district, and enter for all those. Diane: Go to http://guaranteedhealthcare4all and if you don’t find someone for your district, go to PDA, find the CDPP for your district, and get them to sign on to the site. We need to make a push for this. We’ll go through the process discussed to get the delegations together. We should include faith groups and other groups that support HR 676. Go to their local chapters and find people who will go with us to the meetings for lobbying. ?: For Medicare for All to take effect, we need to have computerized national recordkeeping. It works well for the VA. Once Congress appropriates the money for the computerized system, it will move this forward. Diane: Obama has put in stimulus money for IT for healthcare technology. ?: It needs to be done as a national program. Diane: True, but we need to galvanize support for single-payer first, and the other things will come with it. National healthcare will create many jobs, including for these people to develop the recordkeeping system. Jim, NY (Rochester): Mentioned PDA-TV’s assistance. Diane: We’re inviting Ron from Congressman Masters’ office for the next call. Thanks to everyone for the call. Remember to email Diane and check in that you were present for the call. Call ended at 7:28 p.m. PST.