Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'm back to work for the Global Network. Will continue to help Lisa Savage for US Senate campaign on my free time. Trying to self-isolate as much as possible. Best wishes and good luck to you all.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

SPREADING LIKE A BAD COLD

Last Sunday I attended a public forum on health care at the library in Brunswick. The event was led by Bill Clark, a retired doctor, who I have interviewed a couple of times on my public access TV show called This Issue. The meeting was organized in response to Obama's request for feedback on his health care plans.

The Obama team gave a list of seven questions they wanted discussed. The questions were policy wonk oriented, things like "How can public policy promote healthier lifestyles?"

There were 60 people present and early on the group made it clear that they didn't want to talk about the seven questions from Obama. Instead they over and again spoke about their belief that health care was a human right, that the profit motive should be taken out of health care, and in the end the people pretty much unanimously requested that Dr. Clark inform the Obama team that those assembled supported a single-payer health care program, or "Medicare (the program that covers people over 65) for all" as it is often called.

Richard Rhames from Biddeford, who was there filming the meeting for public access TV, reminded us that while a state senator in Illinois Obama had helped defeat a single-payer health care program that was brought to his state legislature. During the recent Democratic primaries it was Rep. Dennis Kucinich who was the leading advocate for government run single-payer system while Obama and Hillary Clinton championed "national health insurance for all" which means having the government further subsidize the insurance companies to broaden their coverage to include more of the 48 million across the nation who have no coverage.

Health insurance corporations premiums have doubled in the past eight years and medical bills now contribute to 50% of the bankruptcies and home foreclosures experienced by the public.

Advocates of single-payer have made a strong case that expanding private health insurance may not mean a better delivery system as we know that the "market driven" insurance companies are less efficient. The government run Veterans Administration (VA) health program has the best quality scores (for diabetes, blood pressure control, and the like) of any system in the US.

With millions of people now losing their jobs many more will join the ranks of the uninsured. For each 1% increase in unemployment, over one million more folks join those without coverage.

On New Years Day MB and I went to a party held in South Paris, Maine at the home of retired doctor and Cuba solidarity activist Tom Whitney. Tom told me that just days ago a similar health care forum had been held in Augusta that he attended along with 75 others. He said that similar to the one I had gone to, the people in Augusta also resisted the programed questions from Obama and instead spoke out for single-payer health care.

This seems to be contagious. It's spreading like a bad cold. The people are tired of watching the health insurance company executives walk away with $42 million annual bonuses while more go without the ability to see a doctor when sick. There is only one real prescription for this malady and it is free health care for all. Let the "market commodity" system of health care delivery die and instead resuscitate Medicare for everyone across the nation.

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