congress watch

(to be renamed when i think of something)

Single Payer Universal Healthcare Gets a Hearing Today at 10:30am

June 10th, 2009 by selise

Congratulations to all who have worked to demand that Single Payer Universal Healthcare be included in discussions on healthcare reform! Some cracks in the edifice of exclusion are beginning to show.

10:30 amExamining the Single Payer Health Care Option

House Committee on Education and Labor
Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Hearing


  1. U.S. Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI)
  2. Marcia Angell, M.D, Senior Lecturer in Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  3. David Gratzer, Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute
  4. Geri Jenkins, R.N., Co-President
    California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, San Diego, CA
  5. Walter Tsou, M.D., M.P.H., National Board Advisor Physicians for a National Health Program, Philadelphia, PA
  6. Additional Witnesses TBA

Live coverage is scheduled by committee webstream and C-SPAN Radio (schedule, real player link, more links).

C-SPAN TV is scheduled to cover the hearing and broadcast it later in the day (watch schedule for time and station).

C-SPAN Video Library will archive the hearing for later viewing (link).

For some great background on Single Payer, see the fact sheet from PNHP (Physicians for a National Health Program): Single-Payer National Health Insurance. The short version is:

BILL MOYERS: But then let’s establish what single-payer is. Can you do that succinctly?

DR. DAVID HIMMELSTEIN: It’s what we used to call national health insurance. So government collects the money for health care from taxes, you don’t pay premiums, instead you pay taxes, and pays all the bills. Hospitals remain privately owned and operated. Doctors remain mostly in private practice. But their bills go to the government insurance program, just as they do today with Medicare, but we’d be able to streamline the payment system if we had only one payer instead of Medicare being one among many.

So a hospital would get paid like a fire department does today. You have one check a month that pays for the entire operation. And that means you can eliminate the huge billing apparatus of the hospitals and the doctors offices where we’re employing many people to do our billing. And fighting with insurance companies. You save $400 billion a year that way.

For an analysis of the three Single Payer bills now before Congress, see BargainCountertenor’s fabulous diary: Single Payer Bills in Congress: First Impressions.

HR 676 was first introduced in 2003 to the 108th Congress by Representative John Conyers and has been introduced to in every Congress since, getting more support each session.

From PNHP (Physicians for a National Health Program), as of last year:

HR-676 has been endorsed by over 417 union organizations in 48 states including 107 Central Labor Councils and Area Labor Federations and 33 state AFL-CIO’s (KY, PA, CT, OH, DE, ND, WA, SC, WY, VT, FL, WI, WV, SD, NC, MO,MN, ME, AR, MD-DC, TX, IA, AZ, TN, OR, GA, OK, KS, CO, IN, AL, CA & AK).

It has the vigourous support of the largest Nurse’s Union (CNA/NNOC), and the largest Nurses professional association (ANA). And the National Association of Social Workers.

It was endorsed last year by largest physician specialty group, the American College of Physicians which represents Internists, and in a recent editorial in their professional journal (.pdf).

And of course Physicians for a National Program (PNHP) with organized activists in most States.

It has been recently endorsed by the U..S. Conference of Mayors.

Oh yes… HR-676 has also been endorsed by the Assembly of the Urban Caucus of the Episcopal Church, General Board on Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association of the Presbyterian Church (USA). And most recently Unitarian-Universalist.

More on today’s hearings, what it means and a call to action from National Nurses Movement at Daily Kos: Congressional Hearing to Consider Single-Payer Healthcare:

The official silence on Capitol Hill on single payer — at least in the House — is ending.

Thanks to the ongoing pressure and dedication of single payer activists across the country, who the Washington Post noted this past weekend, "have spent months hounding Democratic lawmakers and organizing demonstrations, including one that resulted in 13 arrests at a Senate hearing last month," a Congressional committee will for the first time in the current proceedings on healthcare reform, hold a public hearing on single payer Wednesday.

… a key priority of the insurance industry throughout this process has been shutting out discussion of single-payer reforms, and their own uselessness…so in that regards this is a real victory for healthcare reform

x-posted at oxdown