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HealthCareforAll-SinglePayer 2_17_09-1


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									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
diane@pdamerica.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
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 [
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
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
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 donnas@calnurses.org. 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
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
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 lorin@guaranteedhealthcare4all.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
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
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 ended at 7:28 p.m. PST.

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