On the Struggle for Universal Health Care

DSA reaffirms its support for single-payer health insurance as the most just, cost-effective and rational method for creating a universal health-care system in the United States. In the House of Representatives, John Conyers has introduced H.R.676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act. This bill has 77 co-sponsors. In the Senate, Bernie Sanders has introduced S.703, the American Health Security Act of 2009, his bill has not yet attracted co-sponsors. These two pieces of legislation take different approaches to universal health insurance, but both take for- profit insurance companies out of the picture. DSA asks our locals to contact their senators and representatives, and encourage them to co-sponsor these bills if they have not already done so.

DSA notes with dismay that the current discussions and hearings in Congress relating to national health insurance have excluded single-payer health insurance from the discussion. The plans under discussion presume a large role for the existing insurance industry; possibly, in competition with a Medicare-like public option. We strongly support single payer over these other alternatives. In particular, we feel it is vitally important to include supporters of single payer in the discussion around all possible plans, and condemn the exclusion of these voices in both President Obama’s Health Care Summit and in the hearings of the Senate Finance Committee. Particularly, in the discussions of the public options, the ideas and experience of health-care professionals committed to the single-payer approach would provide essential input.

Even taking the above into account, the current political situation provides the best opportunity for serious health-care reform in a generation. We do not accept the position that unless we get everything we want, we are willing to see that opportunity disappear. We do believe, however, that the insurance industry is powerful enough that the current political dynamic could result in a “health care reform” that is, in fact, worse than nothing at all, because it would create a public plan that is designed to fail.

Therefore, even while we do everything we can to ensure that single payer gets a fair hearing, we must state our minimum requirements for possible alternatives to single-payer health insurance. Our minimum position is that any plan must include a strong public-provision component, one that can compete with the private insurance options. In evaluating proposed plans, the devil is, unfortunately, in the details. Among the criteria to be considered:

  • All employers and individuals must be eligible to choose the public plan, possibly during an annual open-enrollment period.

  • The plan must be government run, operated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services or by a similar agency.

  • The public plan must have the ability to negotiate drug prices.

  • The public plan must be allowed to negotiate reimbursement rates, possibly pegged to Medicare rates.

The public plan must, like Medicare, allow participants to choose their own doctors. Short of these provisions, whatever comes out of Congress will not be real reform. Health care

is a human right and must be available to all without economic barriers.

DSA recognizes that there is strong support for a single-payer plan in several states. In fact, California would have a single-payer system today if Senate Bill 840 had not been vetoed by Gov. Schwarzenegger. Therefore, DSA insists on an opt-out provision from any national plan that would allow individual states to set up their own single-player plans and to use Medicare, Medicaid and similar federal funds allocated within the state in that state plan.

In summary, DSA asks our locals and activists to engage in the following activities in support of health-care reform:

  1. Urge Senators and Representatives to co-sponsor H.R.676 and S.703.

  2. Support the right of single-payer proponents to have their position heard in the congressional debate.

  3. Insist on the inclusion of a strong public component in any health-care reform legislation.

  4. Insist on the inclusion of a state opt-out so that individual states can enact their own single-payer plans. 

What Is DSA? Training Call

May 30, 2017
· 57 rsvps

If you're a new DSAer, have been on a new member call, but still have questions about DSA's core values/strategy/core work and how to express these ideas in an accessible way to the media, as well as to friends, family and others who might be interested in joining DSA, this call is for you. 

We will talk through the basics of DSA's political orientation and strategy for moving toward democratic socialism, and also have call participants practice discussing these issues with each other. By the end of the call you should feel much more comfortable thinking about and expressing what DSA does and what makes our organization/strategy unique. 8 pm ET; 7 pm CT; 6 pm MT; 5 pm PT. 70 minutes.

Film Discussion: Rosa [Luxemburg]

May 31, 2017
· 95 rsvps

Join DSA member Jason Schulman to discuss the film Rosa, directed by feminist filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta. View it here at no cost before the discussion. Marxist theorist and economist Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) played a key role in German socialist politics. Jason edited Rosa Luxemburg: Her Life and Legacy and has a chapter in Rosa Remix. 9 ET/8 CT/7 MT/6 PT.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 27 rsvps

Join Victoria Bynum, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Texas State University, San Marcos, to discuss The Free State of Jones. STX Entertainment bought the film rights to Bynum's book of the same title. She also served as a consultant and appears in a cameo scene. What was the Free State of Jones? During the Civil War, an armed band of deserters led by Newt Knight, a non-slaveholding white farmer, took to the swamps of southeastern Mississippi and battled against the Confederacy in an uprising popularly known as “The Free State of Jones.” Joining Newt in this rebellion was Rachel, a slave. From their relationship, there developed a controversial mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended. View the film here for $6 before the discussion. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Introduction to Democratic Socialism

June 13, 2017
· 14 rsvps

Join Bill Barclay, Chicago DSA co-chair, and Peg Strobel, National Political Committee and Feminist Working Group co-chair, on this webinar for an overview of what we in Democratic Socialists of America mean when we talk about "socialism," "capitalism" and the goals of the socialist movement. 9:30 PM ET; 8:30 PM CT; 7:30 PM MT; 6:30 PM PT.

  1. This webinar is free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have headphones (preferred) or speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Bill Barclay, chocolatehouse@sbcglobal.net.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

Film Discussion: Pride

September 10, 2017
· 7 rsvps

Join DSA members Eric Brasure and Brendan Hamill to discuss the British film Pride (2014). It’s 1984, British coal miners are on strike, and a group of gays and lesbians in London bring the queer community together to support the miners in their fight. Based on the true story of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. The film is available for rent on YouTube, Amazon, and iTunes. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Film Discussion: Union Maids

September 24, 2017
· 5 rsvps

 

Join DSA member and labor historian Susan Hirsch in discussing Union Maids (1976). Nominated for an Academy Award, this documentary follows three Chicago labor organizers (Kate Hyndman, Stella Nowicki, and Sylvia Woods) active beginning in the 1930s. The filmmakers were members of the New American Movement (a precursor of DSA), and the late Vicki Starr (aka Stella Nowicki) was a longtime member of Chicago DSA and the Chicago Women's Liberation Union. It’s available free on YouTube, though sound quality is poor. 8ET/7CT/6MT/5PT.