HEALTH CARE JUSTICE NOW: U2K UPDATE
Newsletter of the Universal Health Care 2000 Campaign (U2K)
October 26, 2000 (Issue no. 18)
HEALTH CARE JUSTICE WEEK Update
Events raise public awareness, call on candidates to commit to working for
universal health care
On October 11, Jessie Tehranchi of AL Arise organized a meeting of health care
justice activists. The 20 who attended wrote letters to Congress people
calling on them to commit to making universal health care a top priority in the
107th Congress, and to join the Universal Health Care Task Force. They
plan to follow up by organizing personal delegations to their Congress people's
offices. Contact Jessie Tehranchi, <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
On October 19, the University of California-Berkeley chapter of the American
Medical Student Association (AMSA) organized a candlelight vigil for the
uninsured. Over 200 people, including representatives from community and
faith groups, rallied on the steps of Sproul Hall. Organizers felt the
event helped to build leaders in the AMSA chapter at Berkeley, and helped to
build relationships between community groups and medical students.
On October 7, Health Care for All California organized a public forum on
universal health care in San Francisco. Over 50 people attended, and
signed a petition and "open letter to candidates" calling on state and
Congressional candidates from the Bay Area to commit to working foruniversal
health care. Contact Don Bechler, Health Care for All CA, <email@example.com>.
Throughout Health Care Justice Week, Connecticut Call to Action made
presentations to community and faith groups, tabled at the CT Folk Festival and
pitched their message for universal health care on a community TVbroadcast.
Their activities resulted in coverage by a local weekly newspaper, and
helped to build relationships with several new organizations, including a
chapter of the American Medical Student Association. Contact Naomi Shaiken,
Due in part to the efforts of the Sussex County Health Coalition, the Mayor of
Lewes, DE declared October "Children's Health Care Month."
During the month, the group performed outreach to clergy and the small business
community to increase enrollment in the Children's Health Insurance Program in
the state. Ministers at area churches gave sermons on the issue of health
care justice. Contact Hal Wallach, <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
>>DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (DC)
The Gray Panthers of Metro DC and Montgomery County helped to organize apublic
forum on HMO accountability in Medicare, highlighting seniors left without
health care when HMOs leave Medicare. Bringing together 30 activists from
metropolitan DC, the event served to educate participants in the need to protect
and safeguard Medicare from privatization. The participants agreed to
contact their Congressperson to ask them to address this issue, and the event
received coverage in the Washington Post. Contact Rose Marie Flynn, Gray
Panthers of Metro DC, <email@example.com>.
On October 14, the Nevada Health Care Reform Project organized a public forum on
universal health care, as well as health care issues in NV, co-sponsored by the
League of Women Voters of NV. Over 80 people showed upto hear several
speakers address the current realities of the Canadian health care system,
current health care programs and needs in NV and the nationwide struggle for
universal health care. The group collected 40 postcards calling on
candidates for Congress to work for universal health care. The event
received coverage in the local newspaper, the Las Vegas Sun. Contact Ruth
Mills, NV Health Reform Project, <MillsR007@aol.com>.
On October 5, the Gray Panthers of Greater Albuquerque visited Rep. Heather
Wilson's office (R, NM) and presented over 1,600 signatures in support of the
"Allen Bill" for prescription drug coverage, and urged Wilson to
co-sponsor the legislation. Fifteen members of the Gray Panthers presented
Wilson's aide with a bouquet of balloons reading, "Rx Prices Are Going Sky
High" and "Just Say Yes to Prescription Drugs for Seniors."
Contact Rose Shaw, Co-Chair of the Gray Panthers of Greater Albuquerque, <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
On October 18, over 75 New Yorkers attended a candlelight vigil for the
uninsured at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. Organized by the New York
University chapter of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) and
co-sponsored by Metro NY Health Care for All and Physicians for a National
Health Program, New York City, the event educated the public about the health
care crisis and the need for universal health care. For information
contact Mark Hannay, <email@example.com>.
On October 21, the Coalition for Consumer Justice and over 70 U2K endorsers from
Rhode Island held a candlelight vigil for the uninsured. Over 125 people
attended, and the event garnered media coverage from several television
stations, the local print media and radio talk shows. Contact Arline
Bolvin, Director of CCJ, <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
At Pleasant Hill Community Church, a United Church of Christ congregation in
Pleasant Hill TN, on Sundays during Health Care Justice Week parishioners and
faith leaders were called on to sign the "Call for Health Care
Justice," a faith letter calling on candidates to work for health care for
all. (Overall the letter has garnered 500+ signatures from 50 states.)
Contact Dick Braun, TN Health Care Campaign, <email@example.com>.
On October 3, the Just Health Care Coalition of Washington organized a
"Speak Out" on health care. Over 75 individuals and
representatives from community, labor and faith organizations attended.
The Just Health Care Coalition of Washington presented an educational chart book
that educates readers about the health care crisis and the need for universal
health care. The Just Health Care Coalition has been steadily gaining more
organizational members, especially among labor unions, as a result of their
efforts. For a copy of the chart book, contact Craig Salins, <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
On September 28 and October 3, the Coalition for Wisconsin Health, in
cooperation with the League of Women Voters of WI, held two public forums in
Madison and in Ashland on health care issues during the elections. Fifty
people attended each forum to hear how topical health care issues such as
prescription drug coverage and patients' rights fit into the larger picture of
the need for universal health care. For more info contact Marjorie Colson,
Coalition for WI Health, <email@example.com>.
>>ALLIANCE FOR DEMOCRACY
The following is excerpted from a press release by the Alliance for Democracy,
whose "Health Care & Democracy Speak Out" was held on October 15
as part of Health Care Justice Week, and endorsed by the U2K Campaign.
Campaign Finance Corruption Targeted By Health Care Advocates During Act of
Civil Disobedience; Sixteen Arrests in Capitol Rotunda Mark Beginning of Health
Care Justice Week
On October 14, Health Care Justice Week 2000 began unconventionally when a group
of health care professionals and reform advocates calling themselves the
"Healthy Democracy Brigade," engaged in a dramatic act of civil
disobedience in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.
The action illustrated how $250 million in political contributions have been
used during the last decade by the health care industry to stymie a range of
health care reforms < from a patients¹ bill of rights to a prescription drug
benefit for Medicare recipients to universal health care coverage.
Sixteen citizens were arrested in the action, which was the first to expressly
link the two issues. In addition to doctors, medical students, and other health
care professionals, participants included small business owners, students, a
former congressional staffer, senior citizens, and community organizers. The
event, which was organized by the Alliance for Democracy, was cosponsored by the
Universal Health Care 2000 (U2K) Campaign, a coalition of over 550 state,
regional, and national organizations.
As more than 100 tourists watched, the group conducted a "Speak-out on
Health Care and Democracy" during which participants called for universal
health care and full public financing of elections (a.k.a. "Clean
Money/Clean Elections" reform) while unfurling 15-foot banners. One
read "Big Money, Bad Health Care: Campaign Finance Reform Now", and
another "Threat to Public Health: Privately Financed Campaigns."
"The fact that 1/7 of our population lacks health insurance is a moral
outrage and a national disgrace," said Ken Frisof, MD, co-chair of the U2K
Campaign. "The fact that this is not a campaign issue in the 2000 elections
is an indictment of our political system. We know that to remedy the illnesses
of our health care system we must also remedy those of our body politic,"
Brigade members spoke aloud about "crimes against democracy" <
including legalized bribery, extortion, gross conflict of interest, and criminal
malfeasance and negligence < committed by Members of Congress and their big
individual and corporate contributors within the health care industry.
The pointed to the fact that over 42 million Americans are uninsured and
millions more are at risk, even though 75 percent of the public favors a system
of universal coverage. They also called attention to the fact that in the
2000 election cycle alone (as of August 3), the health care industry has
contributed over $49 million to congressional and presidential candidates and
their political parties, including $3.6 million to George W. Bush and $1 million
to Al Gore.
The Speak-Out, while an exercise of the First Amendment rights of free speech
and free assembly and the right to petition one¹s government for a redress of
grievances, was considered illegal under a Washington, D.C. statute which
prohibits "demonstrating in the Capitol," and thus all sixteen members
of the Brigade were arrested by the Capitol Police. After several hours of
booking, they were released on their own recognizance and ordered to appear for
arraignment in D.C. Superior Court on November 9th.
"These are people from all walks of life engaging in a dramatic action
because they know that Congress is guided more by corporate greed than by human
need," said Jim Ace, Program Director of the Alliance for Democracy.
"People are angry and they¹re willing to put their bodies on the line.
They¹re taking democracy back, and they¹ll keep coming back until real reform
Said Ace, "U.S. Senator Paul Simon of Illinois had it right when he said:
Why do we have 41 million Americans without health care coverage? Because
they are not big campaign contributors, and those who profit from the system
are.¹" The Alliance for Democracy is a grassroots organization
consisting of 60 chapters in 21 states. The protest action on October 14th was
the sixth in a series of "Democracy Brigade" speak-outs in the Capitol
Rotunda that began one year ago, with each action protesting campaign finance
corruption and calling for full public funding of all federal elections.
For more information about the Alliance and the Democracy Brigades, please go to