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Green Party leaders challenge Sen. Baucus and defenders of private insurance to debate Single-Payer advocates

• Greens challenge major media to air the debate: “Americans deserve to hear a debate on the merits of Single-Payer vs. health care dominated by for-profit insurance companies”

• Greens warn: Beware misleading Conservatives for Patients’ Rights ads attacking health care reform

Green Party leaders challenged Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and other defenders of health care reform based on private insurance to debate advocates of Single-Payer national health care in a public forum.  Greens also challenged the major media to broadcast the debate.

“Americans deserve to hear a debate on the merits of Single-Payer/Medicare For All versus the merits of a health care system dominated by for-profit insurance companies and HMOs,” said Angel Torres, co-chair of the Green Party of Maricopa County (http://www.maricopagreens.org), which organized a rally for Single-Payer in front of the office of Congressman Harry Mitchell (D-Ariz.) on May 30.

“Greens are prepared to defend Single-Payer publicly.  We also challenge groups like Physicians for a National Health Program, the Healthcare-Now Coalition, Single-Payer Action, and the California Nurses Association to represent the Single-Payer side.  Single-Payer supporters have been fighting to get public attention, especially for Rep. John Conyers’ Single-Payer bill, HR 676,” said Mr. Torres. 

Greens participated in national Day of Action for Single-Payer events throughout the US on May 30 (http://www.gp.org/press/pr-national.php?ID=218).  In Augusta, Maine, 2004 Green vice presidential candidate Pat LaMarche hosted a Single-Payer rally at the statehouse (http://morningsentinel.mainetoday.com/news/local/6407921.html).

Sen. Baucus, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, has called Single-Payer “off the table” and barred Single-Payer advocates from participating in committee roundtables on health care reform that took place in May.

In Pennsylvania, Democratic politicians are trying to discourage state Single-Payer advocates (http://www.Healthcare4allPA.org), including Greens, from participating in a health care lobby day on June 11 organized by the AFL-CIO.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Democrats and Republicans accepted over $46 million in insurance industry donations in 2008 (http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=F09).  According to Consumer Watchdog, Sen. Baucus has taken more campaign contributions from health insurance firms ($183,750 in the last two election cycles) and pharmaceutical companies ($229,020) than any other Democratic member of the House and Senate.

Greens blast misleading TV ads

Green Party health care activists warned that private insurance defenders are placing ads to mislead the public about health care reform, even to the point of confusing private insurance-based plans favored by President Obama and Democratic leaders with Single-Payer.

Recent TV ads have featured Rick Scott, chair of Conservatives for Patients’ Rights, who was fired from his position as CEO of Columbia/HCA in 1997 after he was caught trying defraud the federal and state governments for hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars in false Medicare and Medicaid payments, the largest Medicare/Medicaid fraud in history.  The company had to pay back $1.7 billion, but Mr. Scott, instead of facing prosecution, received $10 million in severance pay and $300 million worth of stock.

“The last thing private insurance lobbies want is open and honest discussion about Single-Payer.  Sen. Baucus has remained steadfast in rejecting Single-Payer and excluding advocates from future hearings.  But we’re hopeful that Sen. Ted Kennedy will invite pro-Single-Payer physicians to an upcoming June 10 and 11 hearing hosted by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, which Sen. Kennedy chairs,” said Jody Grage, treasurer of the Green Party of the United States.  (See http://www.opednews.com/articles/Baucus-Tells-Single-Payer-by-David-Swanson-090603-713.html)

Greens argue that for-profit health insurance adds high costs (administrative overhead, demand for profit) but no value (medical treatment).  All other industrial nations guarantee their citizens health care; no one in Canada, which has a Single-Payer system, faces financial ruin because of illness or injury.

Single-Payer, based on Medicare (administrative costs: about 3%), eliminates the inefficiency of private coverage, drastically cutting costs while covering all Americans (“everyone in, no one out”) and allowing full choice of physician and hospital.  Greens said that the reforms favored by President Obama and many Democrats don’t curb inefficiency, because they leave the insurance/HMO gatekeepers in charge (http://www.gp.org/press/pr-national.php?ID=216).

Green leaders noted that polls have shown widespread popular support for a national health care program that guarantees universal coverage (http://www.wpasinglepayer.org/PollResults.html).  In 2008, the US Conference of Mayors endorsed Single-Payer (http://www.usmayors.org/resolutions/76th_conference/chhs_03.asp), as have thousands of physicians.

MORE INFORMATION

Green Party information page on Single-Payer http://www.gp.org/organize/sicko.html

“Fire Departments and Health Care”
By Scott McLarty, OpEdNews.com, May 15, 2009
http://www.opednews.com/articles/Fire-Departments-and-Healt-by-Scott-McLarty-090511-756.html
http://www.gp.org/commentary/scott-mclarty/fire-health.shtml

“Rx and the Single Payer”
By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, Common Dreams, May 22, 2009 http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/05/22-4

“We Spend Twice as Much on Health Care as Other Rich Countries — and What Do We Get for It?”
By Dean Baker, AlterNet, May 19, 2009
http://www.alternet.org/healthwellness/140098

Single-Payer advocates:
Physicians for a National Health Program http://www.pnhp.org
Healthcare-Now Coalition http://www.healthcare-now.org
Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care http://guaranteedhealthcare4all.org
Single-Payer Action http://singlepayeraction.org
California Nurses Association http://www.calnurses.org

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