HEALTH CARE JUSTICE NOW:
The Newsletter of the
Universal Health Care 2000 Campaign (U2K)
15th, 2000 (Issue
Health Care Justice NOW is a bi-monthly fax/email newsletter. It aims
to keep endorsers and supporters of U2K informed and engaged. It is also
an outreach tool, so please distribute it widely, and encourage other groups to
subscribe through contacting us. There are over 400 individuals that
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Past issues of the newsletter (as well as basic U2K Campaign materials) are
available at www.u2kcampaign.org.
Table of Contents
-U2K Flash Updates
-Parallel Campaigns for Universal Health Care
-Health Care Issues in the News
NOTE: This issue of Health Care Justice NOW includes a section on
health care issues in the news, as they relate to the movement for universal
health care as well as the upcoming 2000 elections. In order to sharpen
the policy debate on health care issues in the elections (as well as the U2K
Campaign's role in it) Health Care Justice NOW will feature these items
NEW ENDORSERS (since 4/15)
American Public Health Association, Public Citizen, USAction
Mississippi Human Services Coalition (MS), National Association of Social
Workers, New York Chapter (NY), Rt. Rev. Hayes H. Rockwell of the Episcopal
Diocese of Missouri (MO), Mississippi Human Services Coalition (MS), Hunger
Action Coalition of Michigan (MI), Pax Christi Michigan (MI), Organize! Ohio
Monterey County Central Labor Council (CA), Hayward Demos Democratic Club (CA),
S. Alameda County Gray Panthers (CA), Birmingham Friends Meeting (MI), Santa
Cruz County Central Labor Council (CA), Dayton Peace Action (OH), Physicians for
Social Responsibility, San Francisco Chapter (CA), Coalition for Quality Health
Care (CA), California Public Employees AFSCME Retirees Chapter (CA), El Cerrito
Democratic Club (CA), Health In Common (CA), Auburn Area Chapter 14/74 AARP
(CA), Heights Christian Church (OH), Chicago Green Party (IL), Berkeley City
Council (CA), St. Mary's Center (CA), Homeless Coalition of the Palm Beach
County of Florida (CA), South Suburban Gray Panthers (IL), United Auto Workers
Local 909 (MI), American Association of University Women, Santa Barbara Chapter
Rev. Stewart Wood, Episcopal Diocese of Michigan (MI)
U2K FLASH UPDATES
Ad Hoc Committee to Defend Health Care of Philadelphia Plan March and
Rally at 7/29 Republican Convention - Plan to Draw Thousands
The Ad Hoc Committee to Defend Health Care of Philadelphia is hoping to place
universal health care back on the Republican Party's agenda through rallying at
the 7/29 Republican Convention in Philadelphia. The express purpose of the
Republican Convention is to plan their platform for the 2000 elections, and the
group hopes to elevate the issue of health care for all. Over a dozen health
care justice, provider, labor, community, welfare rights and other organizations
that have endorse the demonstration. The U2K Campaign plans to help
promote and organize the event through mobilizing U2K activists to convene in
Philadelphia on that date. It is important to note that mass rallies have
the most impact when followed up by long-term organizing and advocacy efforts,
and this is nowhere more true than in the lengthy struggle for health care
justice in this country. Check this newsletter for periodic updates about
the July 29th "Call to Action to Save Healthcare." For more info
or to attend the march, contact Kate Sorensen at 215/423-9375 or call
856/423-3165. Or visit the web site at www.phillyhealth.org.
The march will gather at 11 AM Eastern Time on Saturday, July 29th at Franklin
Square (6th and Arch in Philadelphia) and the march will start at noon.
Gray Panthers of Seattle Plan U2K Kick-Off
The Gray Panthers of Seattle are planning a U2K kick-off for the Washington
campaign. They are inviting local members as well as Washington groups
with a stake in health care justice to a forum about the U2K Campaign, and other
efforts for health care justice. For more information, please contact
Janet Kotyk at 206/417-6265 or Hans Bodleander at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Gray Panthers of Seattle are working with the Seattle Just Health Care
Coalition (a chapter of the Labor Party), and will nominate a representative
from Washington to serve on the U2K Steering Committee.
Health Care for All New Jersey Holds Forum on Universal Health Care
Health Care for All New Jersey held a forum in universal health care on
Saturday, May 6th, bringing 75 individuals into the movement for universal
health care. Speakers included Dr. Victor Sidel, past president of the
Public Health Association of New York City, Robb Burlage of the National Council
of Churches, Nick Unger of UNITE and a representative from the Labor Party, who
are running the "Just Health Care Campaign" for single-payer health
care. To follow up on the meeting, the group plans to solicit
organizations to join U2K. For more information about Health Care for All
New Jersey, contact O'Brien Boldt at 201/569-5721 or email@example.com.
Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring Holds National Conference
Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring plans to bring together about 50 representatives
from its 8 local and state chapters on May 20 for a convention. Among the
topics to be discussed in the workshops are ways that WC/AR members can engage
in the U2K Campaign. South Florida WC/AR member Karl Zukerman will
present the workshop on the U2K Campaign. For information contact Sandy
Weinreb at 212/889-6800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oregon Health Action Coalition Joins U2K Campaign at
"Coordinator" Level, Plans Candidate Forums in the Fall
The Oregon Health Action Coalition recently agreed to join the U2K Campaign at
the Coordinator level. They are soliciting member organizations for
endorsement of U2K, and planning to gain candidate commitments to work towards
universal health care at a candidates forum this fall. Contact Ellen
Pinney, Director at email@example.com or
503/695-2806 for more information.
Gray Panthers of Greater Albuquerque Join U2K Steering Committee
The Gray Panthers of Greater Albuquerque recently joined the U2K Steering
Committee, and plan to pull together a collective of individuals from their
organization to solicit endorsements from groups they work with. The Gray
Panthers of Greater Albuquerque work closely with Health Action New Mexico and
other health care justice activists across the state. For information
contact Tom Lockwood at 505/856-1835 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Faith Communities Handbook in the Works
The U2K Campaign is preparing a Faith Communities Handbook designed to help
endorsers of the U2K Campaign more effectively engage the faith communities in
there area. The Faith Communities Handbook will include targeted messages
for faith communities, tools to help faith communities engage in U2K (for
instance, prayer vigils, congregational workshops and other tools) as well as
denominational statements that are in support of universal health care.
For more information contact Faith Communities Coordinator Linda Walling at
216/751-2440 or email@example.com.
U2K Constituency Working Groups in the Works
The U2K Campaign is planning to launch several constituency-specific
"Working Groups" over the upcoming months. Linda Walling, the
U2K Faith Communities Coordinator has launched a Faith Communities Working Group
already. The purpose of the Working Group is to plan national and
coordinated outreach to faith communities, as well as faith-specific message and
resource development. The Working Group will correspond through an email
list serve, and meet for conference calls where it is appropriate. Current
members of the working group include representatives from the National Council
of Churches, the United Church of Christ, the Interreligious Health Care Working
Group, the Illinois Conference of Churches and others. Current work
includes outreach to national faith groups, state councils of churches,
metropolitan ecumenical groups and the development of the Faith Communities
Handbook. Look for periodic updates about the working group in this
newsletter. For information contact Linda Walling at 216/751-2440 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
U2K Electoral Handbook to Appear by the End of June
As we prepare to swing into the election season, the U2K Campaign is preparing a
Guide to the Elections. It will include tools for engaging candidates,
information about hot and contested races in 2000, tools for targeting races in
your state, messages to take to candidates and "hot button" health
care issues in the 2000 elections. (The U2K Campaign is a 501©(3)
organization and does not endorse candidates or legislation.) Watch this
space for more information about the U2K Guide to the Elections.
June 13th Meeting Planned in DC to Discuss State of U2K, Plan for Next Six
On June 13th, U2K state and national Coordinators will meet in Washington DC for
a day-long working meeting to evaluate the state of the U2K Campaign during its
first six months, and prepare for the summer and fall of 2000. Agenda items
include campaign outreach in the coming months, tools for engagement in the
elections, and a look ahead at the campaign in 2001. Watch this space for
updates about the outcome of the meeting.
PARALLEL CAMPAIGNS FOR UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE
American Medical Student Association supports "States' Right to Innovate
in Health Care Act" (introduced by Cong. John Tierney (D - MA)).
The American Medical Student Association are helping to campaign for the States'
Rights to Innovate in Health Care Act, a bill introduced by Congressperson John
Tierney (D - MA) with 14 co-sponsors. Through this legislation, a maximum
of 10 states would receive grants of up to $3.75
million each to assist in the research and development of a state plan for
universal, comprehensive, cost-effective health care with simplified
administration. Here are a few features of the bill:
* States would have the ability to design plans suited to their own needs, as
long as they met basic requirements. Up to 5 state plans will be approved
by the Secretary of Health and Human Service as 7-year demonstrations.
The approved states would receive a grant for $10 million plus $3 per capita to
assist them in the transition of their health care delivery and financing
* People who otherwise received health care through any of the waived federal
programs would, under the new state plan, receive benefits at least as generous
as those offered under the fed program.
* The bill would allow states to guarantee the residents more generous health
care benefits than they currently receive, including long-term care, drug
coverage, dental and vision services.
* The states would have to assure, monitor and maintain the quality of health
items and services offered under the plan.
* The Secretary of Health and Human Services would provide for data collection
and evaluation of the state proposals, allowing the U.S. to create a body of
knowledge on the comparative effectiveness of state programs to provide health
care for all.
For more information, contact Simon Ahtoridis, Legislative Affairs Director for
AMSA at 703/620-6600 x 211, or email@example.com.
HEALTH CARE ISSUES IN THE NEWS
Maryland Citizens Health Initiative Releases Independent Study that Shows
Economic Viability of Universal Health Care for Maryland
At a press conference hosted by Bon Secours Baltimore Health System on May
2nd, the Maryland Citizens Health Initiative ("Initiative") released
an economic study conducted by the nationally renowned economists, the Lewin
Group. The study found that if Maryland adopted a single-payer insurance
plan for achieving universal health care, the state could provide health care
for all of its citizens and save $345 million on total health care spending.
The study also found that MD could provide health care for all Marylanders with
a mult-payer insurance system for only $207 million more than the state
presently spends on health care.
For more information, contact Vinnie DeMarco at 410/235-9000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a full copy of the study, visit the Initiative web site at www.healthcareforall.com.
For media reports on the release, visit these links: http://www.sunspot.net/content/cover/story
Study Cites Medical Bills for Many Bankruptcies
Nearly half of the more than 1 million Americans who filed for bankruptcy
protection last year did so in part because they could not cope with medical
bills or other financial consequences of illness or injury, says a recent study
by Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren. The study is to be published
this month in Norton's Bankruptcy Advisor, a specialty periodical.
"I thought we'd be looking at a wholly uninsured group of Americans, and
we're not," said Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren. "These
data suggest that under-insurance is a far bigger problem for middle-class
families." Middle-class American families are "one serious illness
away from financial collapse," she added. "What a scary way to
think about America."
The study provides justification for the argument that America's health care
crisis affects not only the 45 million, uninsured Americans, but also the
increasing number of under-insured Americans. The increasing fragility of
health care security for most Americans is spurring a number of efforts to
create a broad-based movement for universal health care.
Texas Health Care System Throws Doubt On Bush Health Care Record
According to the April 19 edition of Health Line (an Internet clipping service
concerning major health care issues in the news), a study by the Center for
Disease Control showed that Texas has the lowest ranking in the country for
Hispanic women age 50 and older who had a breast exam in the last two years.
"Part of the reason for the disparities is the high number of uninsured
Hispanics in Texas," Health Line notes. In 1997, 47% of Hispanic
women ages 18 to 64 were without h alth care coverage, significantly higher than
the national average. The release of information highlighting Texas' poor
health record casts serious doubt on former Texas Governor George Bush's claim
that his health care proposals will improve America's health care system.
Congressional Candidates Launch Effort to Make Health Care Issues Big in 2000
In the April 25 edition of Health Line, The New York Times is quoted as calling
George Bush's health care plan a "case study in the carefully calibrated
philosophy of compassionate conservatism." But will it work? The
Democrats are launching campaign efforts to exploit its weaknesses and to make
health care issues big in the 2000 elections. Bush's plan provides a
$2,000 tax credit for families and $1,000 for individuals - allowing people to
cover as much as 90% of the costs of health insurance, he claims. Democrats
argue the Bush plan will not cover the costs of health care for families.
In the April 26 edition of Health Line, a Harris Poll reveals that Americans
trust Democrats to handle four major health care issues better than Republicans.
The survey states that "majorities of the public see a Democratically
controlled Congress as more likely to do a better job than Republicans on making
health care affordable to as many people as possible, patient protection,
preserving Medicare and introducing a Medicare drug benefit."
According to the poll, respondents felt that making affordable health care
widely available was the most important health care issue. The Harris Poll also
showed that Presidential candidate Al Gore gained the support of a clear
majority on only one issue - making health care affordable to as many Americans
as possible. "Al Gore and the Democrats need to find a way to bring
these issues to life," said Humphrey Taylor of the Harris Poll.
Nonetheless, most Democrats are pushing piecemeal health care reform efforts,
such as ensuring a strong Patients' Bill of Rights, affordable prescription drug
coverage and expansion of safety net programs. There is little evidence
that such piecemeal reforms will lead to the sort of health care reform
Americans need and want - that is, a nationally guaranteed health care system -
so much as placing Band Aids on a sick system.
The poll suggests that activists for universal health care have a huge
opportunity this election season to raise the issue of fundamental health care
reform as a major issue in the 2000 elections, with candidates from both
political parties. Health care justice activists have a chance to inform the
public about the health care records of Congressional candidates, as well as
stances on universal health care, to tell people to "vote for their
health." The poll also suggests that most American believe lack of
affordability and accessibility the most significant health care issues - which
provides an opportunity to educate the public about universal health care.
Will Congress Enact a Strong Prescription Drugs Bill this Election
Season? An Analysis of the Democratic Proposal (From Public Citizen)
The Democratic proposal for a Medicare prescription drug benefit will do too
little to curb the ever-increasing prescription drug costs, watchdog group
Public Citizen said in a press release on May 16th.
"The proposal represents half a pill," said Joan Claybrook, President
of Public Citizen. "While we commend President Clinton and Democratic
leaders for putting forward a comprehensive proposal with a strong drug benefit,
it has a wholly inadequate mechanism for reigning in skyrocketing prescription
drug costs, which is the lynchpin to ensuring that a benefit is affordable for
taxpayers and sustainable for Medicare recipients."
The two-page proposal, which is modeled on Clinton's plan with some
modifications, would go further than Clinton's original plan in providing
catastrophic coverage. But it would rely on private regional networks to
negotiate lower prices with pharmaceutical companies, which would not go far
enough to curb drug costs.
"Democratic leaders refused to incorporate the best cost containment
mechanism now before Congress the Prescription Drug Fairness for Seniors
Act," said Frank Clemente, director of Public Citizen's Congress Watch.
That act, HR 664, sponsored by Rep. Tom Allen of Maine, would require that the
best prices be offered to all Medicare beneficiaries, effectively cutting prices
up to 40 percent from retail level. This would reduce drug company
revenues a modest 3.3 percent because of the increased demand that would result
from making the drugs more affordable.
Clemente said, "It would appear that the lobbying and advertising tactics
of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America have scared off
Democratic officials from doing what is in the best interests of their
constituents. Obviously, America's seniors are away ahead of
thepoliticians of both parties on this one."
STRENGTHS OF THE PROPOSAL:
** Would provide a universal drug benefit as part of the Medicare program,
rather than expanded private insurance coverage of prescription drugs, as
proposed by Repub. Leaders
**A beneficiary's out-of-pocket costs would be limited to $3,000 per year
adjusted for inflation, which represents a substantial improvement over
Clinton's original proposal, which lacked such a cap.
**Would cover 100 percent of a Medicare beneficiary's annual drug costs,
including premiums, for seniors below 135% of poverty level. This would
provide full coverage to nearly 13 million Medicare recipients.
WEAKNESSES OF THE PROPOSAL:
**Reliance on Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBM's) is wholly inadequate. Even
with the proposed improvements in how PBM's would operate, the administration
estimates savings at about 15 percent off retail, much less than the 40 percent
under the Allen bill.
**Without strong measures to lower drug prices and change industry marketing
practices, rising prescription drug expenses will erode the value of the annual
**The 50 percent cost sharing arrangement will still be a burden for many
seniors with high drug bills. Two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries are
above 135 percent of the poverty level, which is the cut-off point for the
government paying premium costs and out-of-pocket costs. Under the
proposal, a widowed senior with $12,500 in annual income and a $4,000 annual
drug bill would spend $2,300 on prescription drugs, or 18 percent of her annual
For more information, contact Guillermo Nicacio at Public Citizen (a U2K
Endorser) at GNICACIO@citizen.org or
CONTACT US (Let us know what you are doing in
your state or region.)
Rachel Rosen DeGolia, Campaign Coordinator
Lee Chilcote, Field Organizer
2800 Euclid Ave., Suite 520, Cleveland OH 44115
Phone: 216/902-5577 * Fax: 216/241-8423
Web Site: http://www.u2kcampaign.org
Linda Walling, Faith Communities Coordinator
15905 Fernway Rd.
Shaker Hts. OH 44120
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