Friday, November 06, 2009

Single-Payer Updates with Action Item for Today - Call the Rules Committee Members

Speaker Nancy Pelosi
November 6, 2009
Press Release

Pelosi Statement on Congressman Anthony Weiner’s Single Payer Alternative

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement today on Congressman Anthony Weiner’s single payer alternative:

"Within the next few days, the House will vote on the most comprehensive health care legislation in our history. Our bill will provide affordability to the middle class, security to our seniors, and responsibility to our children by not adding a dime to the deficit. While our bill contains unprecedented reforms, including an end to discrimination for pre-existing conditions and a prohibition on raising rates or dropping coverage if you become ill, our bill cannot include provisions some strongly advocated. The single payer alternative is one of those provisions that could not be included in H.R. 3962, but which has generated support within the Congress and throughout the country.

"Congressman Anthony Weiner has been a forceful and articulate advocate for the single payer approach and our legislation. His decision not to offer a single payer amendment during consideration of H.R. 3962 is a correct one, and helps advance the passage of important health reforms by this Congress. While single payer, like other popular proposals, is not included in the consensus bill we will vote on this week, Congressman Weiner has been a tireless and effective advocate for progress on health care, and his work has been a vital part of achieving health care reform."

Committee on Energy and Commerce
Chairman Henry A. Waxman
November 6, 2009

Chairman Waxman's Statement on Rep. Weiner's Single-Payer Amendment
Today Chairman Henry A. Waxman released a statement in response to Rep. Anthony Weiner's decision not to offer a single-payer amendment to the House Democratic health care legislation.

"Rep. Anthony Weiner has been one of the most tireless and effective advocates for health care reform. His decision not to offer his amendment on the floor was a difficult one for him, and for supporters of the measure. I believe Rep. Weiner's choice will be enormously helpful in passing the health care reform package. His step is a correct and courageous one. I thank Rep. Weiner for it, and look forward to working with him closely. Rep. Weiner deserves a great deal of credit for helping to make quality, affordable health care more available to millions of Americans."

Comment by Ida Hellander, M.D., Executive Director, Physicians for a National Health Program:

Next steps and interpretation -

1) The fact that single payer got so far along in the House is a testament to the strength of our single payer movement. The huge number of calls by single payer advocates in support of single payer and the Weiner amendment in recent days have been noted by several members of Congress.

2) It appears that nobody, particularly the President, expected our single payer option to be alive in the Congress for so long. As you know, they attempted to keep it "off the table" from the very beginning.

3) The President was directly involved in the decision to not hold a vote on the Weiner single payer amendment, and Weiner will be meeting with him later today. Stay tuned.

4) We need to increase pressure on the Congress and the White House for Medicare for All through lobbying, civil disobedience, media outreach, and grassroots organizing. Sen. Sanders will call for a vote on single payer in the Senate - this could come up anytime in the next month. Encourage your Senator to support the Sanders bill and also an amendment he will offer for a state single payer option. The California Nurses Association/NNOC has already started lobbying visits in the Senate in D.C.

5) We have been asked how to tell members to vote on the House bill. Our response is that the bill is "like aspirin for breast cancer."

Note from David Swanson and Action Items below...

No Vote on Single Payer
by David Swanson
Fri Nov 06, 2009 at 11:14:30 AM CST

Congressman Weiner has agreed with Nancy Pelosi not to have a floor vote on his Medicare for All bill.  A press release from Congressmen Kucinich and Conyers opposing it helped tip the scale.  But Weiner did not ask Pelosi to include in her bill the Kucinich Amendment to allow states to create single-payer.  Pelosi made clear that President Obama opposes that, and used the bogus excuse that providing everyone with comprehensive free healthcare would deprive them of the right to pay ever increasing rates for uncertain health "insurance."

The removal of the Weiner vote undoubtedly helps the effort to force some of the 57 congress members who wrote to Pelosi in July keep their word.  They said they would not support a bill without a public option tied to Medicare rates. If even 40 of them keep their word, the current bill will fail. And we will have a second round, in which we can push for single-payer and achieve at least a better result than the rotten corpse of a bill being voted on this weekend.

If we could have had a second round AND a strong but failing vote for national single-payer, that would have been better.  But the single-payer vote was going to be used as cover for voting for a bad bill.  Depriving conniving congress critters of that cover is decidedly a good thing, assuming healthcare advocates can come to terms with it and not rip each other's throats out.

If congress members in favor of real helthcare reform were able to work with each other, or if activists were, other possibilities would open up.  And if we have a round 2 in which advocates for a public option admit that single-payer would be better and include single-payer in all of their discussions as the ideal that Americans actually prefer, wonderful things might become possible.  But unless single-payer advocates admit that winning in one state would be a good thing, rather than a loss of purity, we may not save any lives.  Our most likely path to national single-payer is to get it in a state first.

And we could still facilitate that if we all got together and forced the conference committee to put the Kucinich Amendment back in, or if we forced House members to insist on voting No on Saturday unless the Kucinich Amendment is put back in.


The Rules Commitee is meeting today - so there is still something you can do [h/t ImpeccableLiberalCredentials]:

Make phone calls or send a fax to the Rules committee members asking them to support re-inclusion of the Kucinich ERISA-waiver for state single payer plans into the House Healthcare Reform Bill.

If amendments passed in the committee process can just be stripped out of bills at the whim of party leaders our whole process, our whole system of government is a farce. I don't think we are there yet - I think the Rules Committee remains capable of operating independently and consistently, and nothing is settled until the votes are counted there this afternoon. Ask the Rules Committee to defend the work accomplished by other committees, especially Ed/Labor on the Kucinich amendment, and not to bow to pressure and disinformation from lobbyists or even the Speaker.

Ask the Rules committee to hear any single-payer amendments brought by Kucinich, Conyers, Weiner or Welch, or any robust public option amendment brought by Grijalva, and to vote for their getting enough time for real debate and votes on the House floor.

Here are the numbers for all Rules Committee members phones and faxes:
  • Chair Louise Slaughter Buffalo, NY (202) 225-3615 fax: (202) 225-7822 
  • James P. McGovern Worcester, MA (202) 225-6101 fax: (202) 225-5759 
  • David Dreier Rancho Cucamonga, CA (202) 225-2305 fax: (202) 225-7018 
  • Alcee L. Hastings Fort Lauderdale, FL (202) 225-1313 fax: (202) 225-1171 
  • Lincoln Diaz-Balart Hialeah, FL (202) 225-4211 fax: (202) 225-8576 
  • Doris O. Matsui Sacramento, CA (202) 225-7163 fax: (202) 225-0566 
  • Pete Sessions Richardson, TX (202) 225-2231 fax: (202) 225-5878 
  • Dennis Cardoza Stockton, CA (202) 225-6131 fax: (202) 225-0819 
  • Virginia Foxx Winston-Salem, NC (202) 225-2071 fax: (202) 225-2995 
  • Michael Arcuri Utica, NY (202) 225-3665 fax: (202) 225-1891 
  • Ed Perlmutter Aurora, CO (202) 225-2645 fax: (202)225-5278 
  • Chellie Pingree Portland, ME (202) 225-6116 fax: (202) 225-5590 
  • Jared Polis Boulder, CO (202)225-2161 fax: (202) 226-7840
Contact any friends you have in their districts and get them to call or visit


steinlaura said...

Mr. Swanson should have disclosed his recent position as press secretary for Rep. Kucinich's latest Presidential campaign. We don't know what plans he has for further employment of that sort. It throws into question whether the purpose of calling for the withdrawal was more to protect Kucinich from accusations, however unfair, of derailing the current pitiful "public" option than to advance single payer.

steinlaura said...

I think the action advocated above could have been taken w/o throwing the Weiner amendment under the bus?

Tell me why you had to make it either/or.

Perhaps you're under the illusion that Dennis Kucinich is the single payer movement.

steinlaura said...

Swanson says, "If we could have had a second round AND a strong but failing vote for national single-payer, that would have been better. But the single-payer vote was going to be used as cover for voting for a bad bill."


The Weiner amendment vote was going to a quick up or down before the main bill wsa debated.

The action to restore the Kucinich amendment would in no way be impaired by it.

Sounds more like Kucinich, Conyers and others running for cover on the chance that their yes vote on Weiner would be misrepresented as the cause of any problems the main bill was having getting passed.

Of course single-payer proponents in Congress could have used it the opposite way by saying that since the people's will (according to a number of polls) was thwarted by the defeat of the Weiner amendment, at least citizens should be allowed to have their say in individual states w/ the inclusion of the Kucinich amendment.

SarahLee said...

Once Weiner said he was going to withdraw his amendment, there was nothing left to do but try and support the Kucinich Amendment in the House - and then watch and support what Sander's does in the Senate.

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