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. 

Feminist Working Group

December 14, 2016
· 40 rsvps

People of all genders are welcome to join this call to discuss DSA's work on women's and LGBTQ issues, especially in light of the new political reality that we face after the election.  9 pm ET; 8 pm CT; 7 pm MT; 6 pm PT.

DSA Webinar: Turning Members into Leaders

December 28, 2016
· 4 rsvps

Are you starting a new group? Or have you been doing most of the work for your longtime group? Has it been hard to keep new people involved or get them to take responsibility? But suddenly everybody wants to jump in at the same time! Learn how to mentor new leaders and make sure they have all the information and tools they need to succeed.

Join us for our latest organizing training for democratic socialist activists: DSA’s (Virtual) Little Red Schoolhouse.

NOTE: This training is at 9:00pm Eastern (8:00pm Central, 7:00pm Mountain, 6pm Pacific). Please RSVP.

Instructor:

  • Steve Max, DSA Vice Chair and one of the founders of the legendary community organizing school, The Midwest Academy.

In Leadership Development you will learn:

The proven steps to developing the leadership skills and commitment of more members:

  • identifying potential leaders
  • recognizing what each one brings to the group
  • asking people to volunteer
  • giving them specific tasks
  • supporting them in their efforts
  • creating opportunities for new leadership
  • following up.

Training Details

  • This workshop is for local leaders who will lead campaigns in their chapters.
  • If you have a computer with microphone, speakers and good internet access, you can join via internet for free.
  • If you have questions, contact Theresa Alt talt@igc.org 607-280-7649.
  • If you think you can't do it by computer, contact Tony Schmitt schmittaj@gmail.com 608-355-6568.
  • You can participate in every workshop or just attend once in a while.
  • Workshops will generally be on a weekends or evenings.
  • Participation requires that you register at least 45 hours in advance -- by midnight Monday.

DSA New Member Orientation Call

January 19, 2017
· 24 rsvps

You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved.  8:30 PM ET; 7:30 PM CT; 6:30 PM MT; 5:30 PM PT.

Film Discussion: The Price We Pay

January 30, 2017
· 9 rsvps
The Price We Pay blows the lid off the dirty world of corporate malfeasance — the dark history and dire present-day reality of big-business tax avoidance, tax havens - and what we need to do to stop this.  DSA member Bill Barclay, who has a cameo role in the film, will facilitate the discussion.

Full film available on Vimeo.