Friday, October 30, 2009

Leaders in Congress Join Kucinich Call to Restore State Single Payer Amendment

Seven Members of Congress have now signed a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi requesting that Democratic Leadership restore the Kucinich Amendment to the health care reform bill before bringing the bill for a vote.

Added to H.R. 3200 in the Education and Labor Committee, the Kucinich Amendment removes an obstacle for states that seek to enact a statewide single payer health care system.

In addition to Congressman Kucinich (D-OH), Representatives John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Eric Massa (D-NY), Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), Janice D. Schakowsky (D-IL) Lynn C. Woolsey (D-CA), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) have signed the letter.

The full text of the letter follows:

October 30, 2009

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House
U.S. House of Representatives
H-232 The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515-0001

Dear Madam Speaker,

We write to request that the Kucinich amendment that would grant a waiver of the application of ERISA to a state single payer plan be included in the Manager’s amendment to H.R. 3962.

Like many other important reforms included in the underlying bill, the Kucinich amendment is the object of attack by the insurance industry. Unlike other reform measures, Leadership has chosen to strip the Kucinich amendment of the protection it deserves. In view of the power of the insurance industry to divide and conquer good ideas for reforming health insurance in this country, we believe that a simple vote on the floor would be a setback for the amendment and for single payer health care, because it would be exposed to the full brunt of the insurance industry’s attacks.

Progressives are firm and emphatic in their support for the single payer health care. A single payer, Medicare for All health system is the best way to control costs, drive up quality and extend care to all. Allowing states to opt for a single payer plan is a compromise. It is an incremental reform. But it allows the country to move incrementally in the direction that is needed.

The Kucinich amendment strikes a balance between where we need to go and where we can go in the next week. We urge you to include it in the Manager’s amendment.

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