By Kay Tillow
Via Daily Kos
May 24, 2017 ·
Rep. John Conyers and Members of Congress Announce 111 Cosponsors on HR 676
On Tuesday, May 23, 2017, Congressman Joseph Crowley, Chairman of the Democratic Caucus, signed on as a cosponsor to HR 676, national single payer legislation, improved Medicare for All, becoming the 111th cosponsor.
On Wednesday, May 24th, just before the CBO announced that 23 million Americans would lose their health insurance under the Republican health care bill passed by the House, Congressman John Conyers, the conscience of the Congress, and seven other cosponsors of HR 676 and representatives of physicians and nurses gathered together to announce the amazing growth of both public and Congressional support for HR 676.
Congressman Conyers has been introducing HR 676 into the Congress since 2003 when he worked with Physicians for a National Health Program to produce legislation that that would implement the Physicians Proposal for a National Health Plan. The plan would remove the profit and administrative waste of the health insurers saving $500 billion to be invested in expanding care to those not covered and improving care for everyone. HR 676 removes the deductibles and co-pays allowing patients to quickly access needed care by ending the economic barriers that now keep even the insured away from care.
The press conference was broadcast live on Facebook. Here is a partial transcript of what was said:
Congressman John Conyers of Michigan:
Yesterday, Congressmen, 111th cosponsor, Chairman of the Caucus Joe Crowley. The first time we have a substantial majority of the Democratic Caucus on this bill. Isn't that great! He's a supporter of mine.
Health care has also set a record high as town halls are filled with people asking more about it or demanding Medicare for All. So why now? Well, obviously we've been getting a lot of concern and support because of the horrific bill that the Republicans rammed through the Congress a couple of weeks ago by 2 votes and no Democratic votes and energized people all over the country.
But it's also because the status quo is not enough. Right now more than 10% of the adults in America have no insurance and there are millions more who have insurance but still don't have care because they simply can't afford the out of pocket costs.
Obviously we are all united in opposition to Trumpcare, that's easy. But people know what we are against, but we want to promote more what we are for. As a Democrat, I believe that health care is a right not a privilege. I believe in universal health care for every American not just a plan or a contract but the ability to see a doctor and to get treatment whenever they need it.
We will never get universal care building on the foundation of private for-profit insurance. The only way we will get there is the way every other advanced country on the planet has, through a universal system like expanded Medicare for All.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most inhumane." And he was right. For years people have said, including people who support single payer,that it's not time yet, that Medicare for All will have to wait.
Well, Dr. Martin Luther King said that "Wait" has almost always meant "never."
We're here to say that we're done waiting. It's time now, Medicare for All.
Congressman John Conyers introduced Jeanne Ross, RN, of the National Nurses United:
My name is Jeanne Ross. I am a registered nurse from Minnesota and co-president of the National Nurses United, the largest nurses' union in the United States. I'm proud to stand here representing more than 150,000 registered nurses across the country in strong support of HR 676, the Improved Medicare for All Act.
We have a broken health care system in this country. And registered nurses see the tragic effects of this broken system every day at the hospital bedside. The system has failed tens of millions of people including the millions who actually have health insurance but that can't afford to use it because of exorbitant co-pays, deductibles and premiums.
It's a system driven by profit not by protecting peoples' health. Too many patients are not able to receive the care they need to survive and to thrive. Too many are forced to delay care until they experience a life threatening emergency. The United States of America, the richest country in the world and yet we have the worst health outcomes in the industrialized world. This is unacceptable. People should not die because our politicians are not willing to stand up to the health insurance industry.
And Americans across the country are waking up to this reality. We know this system does not provide the care, is not designed to heal patients, it's designed to make corporations rich. The state of health care in America can't be taken lightly. We need a solution.
Registered nurses have a professional obligation. We advocate for the health and welfare of our patients. We take this obligation very seriously and we know from caring for patients in hospitals and clinics every day, the only solution to this health care crisis is a single payer health care system. This is why we are proud to work with Representative John Conyers and endorse HR 676, the Improved Medicare for All Act. A single payer health care system will ensure every single resident of the United States has equal access to quality, therapeutic health care.
With Medicare for All the country will save billions of dollars in health care costs also insuring every single person has access to quality health care. This is a no brainer. It must happen.
National Nurses United is grateful to the 111, I hear we got one more, members of Congress who have cosponsored this bill so far. This is significant. For the first time in history, single payer Medicare for All is the majority position in the House Democratic Caucus.
Now it's time for every single member of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, to cosponsor this bill and we have a special message to Democrats who have not yet cosponsored this bill. It is not enough to fight for the status quo, because the status quo is not working for tens of millions of people in this country.
Yes, we ask you to defend the gains of the Affordable Care Act and stop the atrocious Republican AHCA which threatens 24 million Americans with loss of their insurance. But we can and must propose an alternative beyond the status quo which frankly hasn't worked for millions of Americans. The time has come for truly universal health care through a single payer system and here's our pledge.
Registered Nurses do not give up on our patients and we will not relent until we win Medicare for All. Thank you.
Conyers introduced Phil Verhoef, MD, PhD, Physicians for a National Health Program.
So I'm an ICU physician at the University of Chicago and as an ICU physician I depend on research and evidence to help inform me about how to practice medicine, how to take care of critically ill kids and adults in the ICU.
But I look at our current health care system, and when I look at the evidence and when I look at the research, I'm pretty sure that our health care system is also critically ill. Why do I say that? Well, look, based on research published last week we ranked 80th out of 195 countries and that is by far the worst of the developed countries in this world.
But more importantly we have 30 million uninsured patients in this country. What that means based on research and evidence is that we will have no less than 20,000 deaths this year because of that lack of insurance. That is unacceptable.
On top of that costs are out of control.
We spend the most per person out of pocket on health care. We spend the most per person per GDP. We spend the most on every possible measure that you can think of.
And so we are failing on every front... this is a critically ill health system. So I say, as a critical care physician, What's the solution?
Well, one solution has been proposed in Trumpcare and I can tell you that I'm pretty sure, even without CBO's report which we expect later today, that this is actually going to make our critically ill system even worse.
It's a little bit like giving grandma a heart attack when she is already in the ICU for pneumonia. And so ultimately why would that happen? So look, if 24 million people lose health insurance, that's another 20,000 deaths that we can lay at the feet of the architects of this awful bill.
Second, this bill (Trumpcare) achieves financial responsibility by providing a humongous tax cut to actually destabilize Medicare at same time that it guts Medicaid. So what that really means is that we are balancing the books on the backs of senior citizens, children, people with disabilities and the poor.
And this just doesn't make any sense to me.
But we have a solution, we have a therapy for this critically ill patient, our health care system, and that is HR 676, improved and expanded Medicare for All
Again I turn to research and evidence based on studies from other countries around the world that use similar systems, it saves lives, it saves money, it improves health outcomes.
The thing that burns me up is that we have a solution on the books and there is not political will to move forward with it except for Congressman Conyers and the 111 cosponsors that have been supportive.
As an ICU physician, I know what the solution to our critically ill system is and that's HR 676 Improved and Expanded Medicare for All and I hope to see political will to stop the deaths of people for lack of health insurance.