Ten Million Americans Could Bring H.R. 676 Into Reality Land—Relief For Anxiety, Dread And Fear

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Above Photo: Molly Adams/Flickr

Polls show that over 125 million adults in our country already favor full Medicare for all, with free choice of doctor and hospital without stifling networks. I say ‘already’ because, as of yet, there is no major national campaign underway showing that an ‘everybody in, nobody out’ system of health insurance costs less, with better outcomes, is simpler, without maddeningly inscrutable or fraudulent  bills, co-pays, deductibles and additional trap doors set by a bunch of greedy corporations. The campaigns that exist today are receiving too little on-the-ground assistance for such a widely-supported issue.

A super-majority of only 535 members of Congress—Senators and Representatives—can make that decision. The bill—H.R. 676, the ‘Expanded & Improved Medicare for All Act’—is now supported by 121 House Democrats—two thirds of all the Democrats in the House of Representatives. So that’s a good start.

H.R. 676 has been referred to several, regular, Committees of the House whose Chairs are all Republican corporatists. So there have been no public hearings. The bill, not surprisingly, is not moving at all.

Millions of Americans have had the bitter experience of denials of health care, staggering bills, pay-or-die drug prices and even loved ones dying because they couldn’t afford health insurance (about 35,000 a year based on Harvard Medical School experts).  So, in the next month, imagine what would happen, if just ten million of the 125 million who support full Medicare for all wrote, telephoned or emailed their two Senators and Representative demanding action and a written response by their lawmakers (who don’t pay postage).

Just ten million Americans making the least difficult effort—perhaps ending with a demand for a town meeting back home to educate the negative solons—would strike the Congressional Dome like a thunderbolt. Are there a dozen leaders among you up for launching such an electrifying internet mobilization?

Not to be confused with other lesser health insurance bills, mostly in the Senate, H.R. 676 is the real thing. It covers ‘all individuals in the U.S. with free health care that includes all medically necessary care, such as primary care and prevention, dietary and nutritional therapies, dental services, and vision care.’ No more premiums, co-pays or gaping deductibles.

How does H.R. 676 pay for all these services? Five ways:

(1) from existing sources of government revenues for health care, (2) by increasing personal income taxes on the top 5% of income earners, (3) by instituting a progressive excise tax on payroll and self-employment income, (4) by instituting a tax on unearned income (such as on capital gains), and (5) by instituting a tax on stock and bond transactions. Amounts that would have been appropriated for federal public health care programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (SHIP), are transferred and appropriated to carry out this bill.

Presently, all Canadians are covered at an average per capita cost half of what Americans—insured and uninsured—are having to spend for health care. The system proposed in H.R. 676 is similar to Canadian Medicare. It includes public funding and free choice of private delivery of health care. It also has provisions for better record keeping, prevention and quality control. There is even transition retraining for all those clerical and administrative jobs that would not be necessary after displacement of the present bloated, wasteful, redundant health care sub-economy.

What would happen to the giant health insurance companies such as Aetna and United Healthcare? They would be prohibited from selling insurance that duplicates the benefits provided under H.R. 676. They could only sell benefits that are not deemed ‘medically necessary,’ such as certain cosmetic surgery operations.

Rep. Keith Ellison (Dem.-Minn.), the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), is officially the lead House Democrat on the bill, which indicates that the DNC may be getting a little more interested in endorsing such legislation.

Meanwhile, Rep. Ellison is talking it up everywhere he travels. He says:

One of the consistent applause lines we’re all hearing is: ‘We need Medicare for all.” There’s a lot of folks who feel that it’s time for us to organize around that. It’s a better policy, at a better price. People in labor, people all over the country, they’re going to be driving the public conversation, raising the dialogue about this….What some people think is a really important progressive position is just what the rest of the industrialized world does.

Medicare for all is what the Pentagon does. It is what President Harry Truman wanted from Congress back in the nineteen forties!! It is time.

So will the first ten million Americans step up and be counted by sending messages directly to their Senators and Representatives in the month of April? The amount of time required to send a letter, an email or a telephone call is so brief that activated citizens could be called the modern “Minutemen” for universal health insurance. Just think of all the tasks you do every day that take far more time, like trying to figure out bills, denials, exclusions, from this basic human right.

Go to SinglePayerAction.org to get the details, the motivation and the groups with which to connect. The Congressional telephone switchboard is 202-224-3121. Make sure to give your legislators your name and contacts; they’ll take the call or letter more seriously

  • Mark Fabian

    I understand that, on the Federal level, taxes do not fund spending. H.R. 676 continues to sit without any other action than 121 Democrats co-sponsoring the bill. Since the Democratic Party is vehemently committed to the “patch and repair” of the (non)Affordable (for millions) Care Act, and the knowledge that the vast majority of Republican Representatives have signed the Norquist No Tax Pledge, leads me to believe that those Democrats feel safe in co-sponsoring a bill they know will be DOA should it hit the House floor. Meanwhile, those Democrats appear to their macroeconomic ignorant and indifferent constituents as “progressives.” To my mind, this is just more proof of the games played by both sides of the same Neoliberal Duopoly. Why are we, as citizens, not marching in the streets like those high-schoolers and occupying the DC and local offices of our Representatives to demand that which we all agree we need and deserve? Congress is the only Federal agency specifically empowered to spend (therefore, create) US dollars and charged to spend for the well-being of all citizens under Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution. We, The People, should be holding their feet to the fire and demand that they do the job they were hired to do or be voted out after their two year term. At the very least, call your Representative and demand an answer! Tell them you know that solvency is never an issue for the exclusive issuer of the US dollar, and to stop lying that our monetarily sovereign government can’t afford what we desperately need. Then, ask them for a moral and economic reason not to pass H.R. 676 in an afternoon! Pass the bill first, then work out the logistical details. Real people are suffering and dying while wealthy politicians drag out this debate! Will there be many displaced workers from the elimination of private health insurers? Yes, but that could be solved with a Federal Job Guarantee – fully Federally funded and Community administered with each community determining its own needs without regard to profitability and each paying a living wage plus benefits. Will there be a need for more healthcare workers and facilities and the labor and materials to build those buildings? Of course, but a Free Public Education bill that would include Preschool through the University levels would produce more qualified healthcare professionals, and Government contracts to private businesses along with Federal Job Guarantee labor pools could handle the rest. The goal of our Government should be to create full employment by its spending. Right now, the unemployed are used as pawns in a cruel economic chess game as the hedge against inflation. That is why we hear that the nation is at “full employment” as we are told of an unemployment at 5%. Everyone deserves a living wage for work done. Our economy runs on consumer spending on goods and services. When we spend, we create jobs. Health, Education, and good jobs. Imagine the immediate changes to our lives.

  • Robert H. Stiver

    Vintage Ralph Nader. Too bad his once prodigious energy and influence have been reduced by the machinations of the duopoly to the status of “quaintness.”

  • Steven Berge

    He was cheated just like Bernie a few decades ago when he ran for president.Our country could have been so much better without the control of big money.