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23 December 2008

The November 5th Movement: Single-Payer Healthcare

After a poll of its members, Nov5 has settled on this priority. Read on....

To Our Supporters,

Several of us from the Nader for President 2008 campaign had decided to channel our efforts toward one big goal, but we lacked a major focus. Recently, results of a survey done by the campaign came back. Top issue? Adopt single payer health care. It's not the only issue people care about, obviously. But, to turn this country around it's clear that we need to address our own pain now.

Our big goal for the next Congress will be to drive for national health insurance to cover privately-delivered healthcare for all Americans.

We're far from alone in this. The array and scope of the groups and their allies supporting national health insurance is impressive. But we are not reinventing the wheel, either. As long as you want to build a lasting organization that will get Congress to focus on people's needs -- not those of big business -- November5 can be the place to do it.

Here in the United States, we have excellent private health care. So why are nearly 100 million of our citizens uninsured or underinsured? You already know why: profit-driven private insurance companies. Taken together, they make the Pentagon look streamlined.

Not only that, but consider over 18,000 dead and hundreds of thousands getting sicker every year specifically because their health insurance is inadequate -- or non-existent.

The way to fix health care is to cut private insurance companies out of the basic health care picture, while keeping our system of private delivery. This is how Medicare came into being in the 1960s. It now covers all Americans over 65.

If we succeed in creating a system of "Medicare for All," we will help businesses and other organizations, independent contractors, veterans, people with pre-existing conditions, students -- all of us. If we get this done, it will revolutionize all of our lives for the better. We'll be able to focus on everything else that we want to accomplish for our communities, and our nation.

Passing national health insurance will be difficult, but it is achievable.

General Plan
  1. Huge amounts of leg work have been done on this issue. H.R. 676, the legislation that supporters of national health insurance have introduced, had 93 original co-sponsors in the House. That number will probably increase as the new Congress comes into session. The first task now facing all supporters of the bill will be to make a new tally of co-sponsors and supporters in the next Congress.
  2. We will be up against alternatives to "reform" health care, such as the plan promoted by Senator Max Baucus. They simply extend the status quo -- and the damage. They would expand the profits of the private insurance companies, and therefore cannot check the spiraling inflation generated by these companies, and the broken system they inhabit. So, right away, we have to draw a sharp line between what we want, and bad compromises.
  3. Remember, to pass the House, we will need roughly another 120 votes. That means that we will have to go for a margin, to have around 140 votes in addition to the co-sponsors. Here is where our district-level organizations will have to go to work to pick up votes.
  4. We will need sponsors of the legislation in the Senate. Those do not yet exist. This is a critical early step that we hope to help other groups active on H.R. 676 to take.
  5. November5 is non-partisan. We cannot be bound by the notion that Republicans will not buy into national health insurance. It maintains private delivery of health care and will expand choice of doctor, creating conditions for greater innovation and competition -- not less.
  6. We will need to build fast. This effort will work only if it moves deeply into communities, where members of Congress get their votes. We are currently designing a structure that will allow people to begin organizing independently, district by district, around our current goal -- without having to wait for plans from above.
Specific Steps
  1. Inform yourself and others by reading:
  2. Write a letter -- not an email -- in your own words to your member of Congress stating that you'd like their commitment to vote for H.R. 676. If your member of Congress is a co-sponsor of the bill, express your support for that stand. Email a copy to us, if you would, with the words "Letter to My Congressperson" in the subject line.
  3. President-elect Obama has asked for volunteers around the country to host discussion groups on the health care issue during the last half of December. Attend a discussion in your area and make the argument for single payer. Click here for more information.

Soon, we'll be raising money online to build the November5 movement. November5.org will not be a passive website, it will be a place where each Congressional district will be represented by the people of that district. You'll be able to login and see the latest on your Congressional representative, plan with others events that make sense to you for promoting H.R. 676, and organize for meeting with your member of Congress.

If the model works, we'll be able to tackle other issues. For now, let's focus in, and get November5 built. The bell has rung -- and we are in a struggle that we can win, if we all dig deep.

The politicians who want to nibble around the edges of the rolling disaster that is our health care system may have industry on their side, but we have the best plan. Many highly-qualified doctors, economists, and legislators have put enormous work into it, we just have to stand up, be counted and gather others with us to do the same.

We look forward to the rewarding work ahead.

The November5 Team

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