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Monday, 9 March 2009

Health-Care Update

Junto Photos/Richard Carreño
John Conyers, left

Mix It Up with
Single-Payer Health Plan

By Richard Carreño
Junto Staff Writer
If you're bewildered about what kind of health-care insurance reform is going to come out of Washington, you're not alone. There's the Obama low-cost plan (available to all on an OPTIONAL basis); there's the Hillary plan (low-cost to all on a REQUIRED basis); and there's the BEST plan of all, the single-payer plan that dominates the market worldwide, including, significantly, Canada, the UK, and France, where the natives there LOVE their universal health-insurance programmes.

The main man behind the single-payer scheme is John Conyers, the legendary Democrat Detroit congressman, who's backing HR 676, an expanded and revised Medicare for all plan. Remember the House number -- that's what you're going to cite when you push the plan with your reps. Conyers was at the University of Pennsylvania 7 March to lead a discussion -- more, a rally -- on the the plan.

Conyers first introduced the bill in 2005, and -- guess what? -- it looks like it might have a chance -- not of passing, of course -- but of being taken seriously on its merits as a component to what likely WILL finally be a insurance reform act this year. Of course, that's thanks to Obama, a president who has the leadership qualities and the political mojo (almost a 75 percent approval rating) to get the job done.

The time is ripe for another reason. With the Depression descending, even the once comfortable are finally getting afflicted. What was once the other guy's problem (especially that of the struggling underclass), the usual refrain by America's middle class, is now coming home to roost. Hello, you John-Wayne, anti-socialism-Hillary-haters, and welcome to the club. You're now part of the new underclass!

The irony in the support of insurance reform, a unique strain in the American experience, is that the underclass (new and old) aren't the most vocal in pushing for universal heath care. The Penn rally was an example -- of about 200 in attendance, most were white, comfy-looking ageing baby boomers. With insurance.

I felt at home. I'm part of that demographic, and, as a retired public school teacher, I have a Cadillac-like (an unfortunate choice of words these days, I know) insurance deal, thanks to my union, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.

The one guy who stuck out in the crowd, who was apparently there more for his own cause than OUR cause, was a very loud black activist who wore a tee-shirt proclaiming his oh-so 20th century, the Rev. Jesse Jackson-like allegiance to the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America. Apparently he didn't get Obama's memo on this one.

On the other hand, those who did have a clue, and who joined the Great Man Conyers, included national leaders in the single-payer effort like Walter Tsou, M.D., and Chuck Pennacchio, a Pennsylvania health-care activist and lobbyist.

Incidentally, I'd be remiss if I didn't offer my props to The Inquirer, which, once again, in publicising this event, showed its true stripes has a reform advocate. Newspapers shouldn't stand idly by as the Great Issues are debated. In this case, The Inquirer hasn't -- shunting aside the popular bugaboo of 'socialised medicine.'

For further details, go to http://www.phillyhealth.org/, http://healthcare4allpa.org/, and mail to: PUSHforhealthcare@gmail.com. Send an e-mail, letter -- hell, blow a kiss -- to John Conyers for never giving up on the good fight.