Los Angeles Single-Payer Advocates Are Seen and Heard

Lt. Governor John Garamendi speaking at LA rally.

Lt. Governor John Garamendi speaking at LA rally.

On Monday, April 6, the final regional White House meeting on healthcare reform took place in Los Angeles. Like the meetings held in Dearborn, Michigan; Burlington, Vermont; Greensboro, North Carolina; and Des Moines, Iowa, single-payer advocates were shut out of the discussion and gathered outside the event in order to make their voices heard.

The single-payer solution meets or exceeds all of President Obama’s criteria for reform, except it does not allow you to keep your current health insurance; it offers better coverage for the vast majority of Americans. And, polls indicate that the majority of Americans prefer it to other options, as do doctors and nurses, hundreds of local labor unions, 41 cities and towns, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and 75 members of Congress.

As PDA’s California state coordinator and an emergency room physician, I delivered these comments at the Los Angeles rally:

“Healthcare NOT Warfare”
“Healthcare NOT Warfare”
“Healthcare NOT Warfare”

Let me ask you a question: Can we elect a Harvard-educated, constitutional scholar to be President of the United States? Yes We Can, and yes we did! Can we elect an African American to be President of the United States? Yes We Can, and yes we did! Can we elect a community organizer to be President of the United States? Yes We Can, and yes we did!

I’m proud to be a community organizer with the group Progressive Democrats of America. We represent “the democratic wing” of the Democratic Party, and we’re proud to stand for a Single Payer, Medicare for All system of healthcare reform as a matter of social and economic justice for California and for America.

As a full-time Emergency Room physician for almost 30 years, I have seen first-hand those who have fallen through the cracks, those who have let their health go, due to lack of funds. And I’ve seen the incredible waste of misdirected resources brought on by the health insurance and pharmaceutical companies that have bankrupted our country every bit as much as the illegal and immoral wars these same people in power have perpetrated these last several decades of our lives.

A true PDA hero in Congress, Representative Barbara Lee of Oakland, has coined a phrase worth repeating in discussing the issue of our current financial woes. She calls it “The Iraq Recession” . . .

Well at PDA, we say, give us

“Healthcare NOT Warfare”
“Healthcare NOT Warfare”
“Healthcare NOT Warfare”

PDA California holds Governor Schwarzenegger responsible for failing to enact legislation that Senator Sheila Kuehl brought twice to his desk. That would have brought economic and social justice to our state in the form of Single Payer healthcare for all. And we’ll hold Schwarzenegger and his “party of No” accountable yet again if they block it when Senator Mark Leno’s SB 810 is passed, and mark my words it will be passed again, and again and again, if needs be.

We all know, there’s a cancer in America’s economy, it’s called “health insurance” and for-profit funding of healthcare, and it needs to be cut out, now!!!

With a full third of every healthcare dollar wasted on administrative, CEO, and big Pharma profits, America can’t afford another year, month, or day of this obscene corporate welfare.

dr_billAs our new President is fond of saying, “It’s about the fierce urgency of now!” Incremental change, and public/private options will only delay the inevitable, and cause any benefits brought about by reform to be lost. We need Single Payer, Medicare for All to have a seat at the table now, for any meaningful discussion of healthcare reform to take place.

As Dr Martin Luther King Jr said, “ . . .of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.”

Dr. Bill Honigman
California State Coordinator, Progressive Democrats of America

Published by the LA Progressive on April 10, 2009
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