Nothing so far beats HR676 for US health care

No health care proposal so far beats Rep. John Conyers’ (D-MI) HR676 for providing universal health care to Americans. HR676 is a single-payer health care plan also known as “Medicare for All”. HR676 has been Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s (D-OH) health care plan for both of his campaigns for president. Physicians for a National Health Program have endorsed HR676 for some years now.

The Democrats talk about health care in their debates but none of the most covered candidates offer a health care plan that covers everyone, makes it illegal to compete with the government-provided plan (thus removing HMOs from health care delivery), and is described in a bill you can tell your congressional representatives to co-sponsor today (sample letters 1 and 2 to inspire you to write your own).

Senators Edwards, Clinton, and Obama offer health care plans that all keep HMOs intact and in charge. This alone tells you not to take their health care plans seriously.

Today’s Democracy Now! (transcripts, audio, video) featured Michael Moore’s movie “Sicko” and some advocacy for a universal health care plan, although nobody mentioned HR676 by name.

Update (2007-06-18): Michael Moore discussed single-payer universal health care for the hour on today’s Democracy Now! (transcript, audio, video) and mentioned Kucinich’s health care plan with a mild approbation.

Amy Goodman: Are there presidential candidates that you do feel are putting forward an alternative?

Michael Moore: Well, yes. I mean, there’s — well, first of all, nobody is being very specific, other than Edwards, in terms of an actual plan, and his is not a good plan. You know, Obama’s plan is not as specific, and certainly it’s full of the same flaws that the Edwards and the Hillary old plan had. Kucinich is closest to the right idea, and, of course, he keeps, you know, saying “nonprofit,” or whatever. But I kind of don’t want to use that word anymore, and I wish that Dennis wouldn’t use that, because Kaiser Permanente is a nonprofit. Blue Cross is a nonprofit.

Amy Goodman: In fact, the Sacramento Bee that criticized you said, “Don’t you understand that Kaiser Permanente is a nonprofit? So why say this is a for-profit industry?”

Michael Moore: Well, no. Well, right, yeah. It’s not just the for-profit. That’s why I say that essentially you don’t want any private insurance companies involved and that whether they’re for private or nonprofit, because — but when I say “profit,” you have these huge nonprofits that are under the guise of nonprofit, but they’re all about profit. They’re all about making money for themselves and for their executives, and what they make is obscene. And so, I favor the removal of all private insurance companies. I don’t know if Kucinich goes that far. I don’t know really if any of the legislation that I’ve read goes that far, because they all have a component where they will allow the private insurance companies to still be involved.

Amy Goodman: So you’re talking about single payer.

Michael Moore: Yes.

Amy Goodman: Do you see a distinction between single payer and universal coverage?

Michael Moore: Well, yes. Of course there’s a distinction, because first of all, let me tell you, they’re all going to say universal coverage. By the time of the election — by the primaries, I’m sure all the Democrats are going to be using that word: universal coverage for everyone, coverage for everyone. Listen, a lot of their plans, all they’re going to do is they’re going to take our tax dollars and put them into the pockets of these insurance companies.

We need to cut out the middleman here. The government can run this program. They do it quite well in these other countries. You know, if you take the top twenty-five countries, and if we were the only one not doing something of the twenty-five, are we trying to say that the other twenty-four are just screwing up and we’re the smart ones here? I don’t think so.

I think it’s — you take a country like Canada. Their overhead, their administrative cost to run their national program takes up about 1.7% of their whole budget. The average insurance company in this country will spend anywhere from 15% to 30% on overhead, administrative costs, paperwork, bureaucracy. That can be brought way down when the government does it. But, of course, the Republicans and even some of the Democrats have done a good job convincing the American people that government is bad, government will just mess it up. And as Al Franken said a few weeks ago — I heard him say — they run on that platform of the government is bad, will mess things up, then get elected and spend the next four years proving themselves right.