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HEALTH CARE JUSTICE NOW: U2K UPDATE

Newsletter of the Universal Health Care 2000 Campaign (U2K)

August 15, 2000 (Issue no. 14)

IN THIS ISSUE:
Introduction
Health Care Justice Week Email Alert (help spread the word!)
U2K Contacts in Your State
Health Care Issues in the News
     a. Second Class Medicine
     b. Voters Divided on Health Care Crisis
     c. Should U2K Activists Support Nader?
     d. Gore Supports Universal Health For Children First
     e. Prospects for Health Legislation in an Election Year
     f. Recommended Resources
Contact Us

INTRODUCTION

The U2K Campaign was founded in October 1999 by the Universal Health Care Action Network (UHCAN!), the Gray Panthers and the National Council of Churches (NCC).  Since then, the U2K Campaign has grown to include over 400 endorsing organizations, and thousands of individuals.  The goal of the U2K Campaign is to achieve, through a democratic process, a national guarantee of comprehensive, affordable, accessible, quality and publicly accountable health care for all.  In its first year, the U2K Campaign seeks to build a strong, broad base of support for the issue of universal health care, and to raise this as a major issue in the upcoming 2000 elections.  If you are receiving this newsletter for the first time and your organization has not yet endorsed the campaign, we hope you will join us in building a nationwide, grassroots movement for universal health care.

Health Care Justice NOW is a bi-monthly fax/email newsletter.  It aims to keep endorsers and supporters of the Universal Health Care 2000 Campaign informed and engaged.  Health Care Justice NOW is also an outreach tool, so please distribute it widely, and encourage other groups to subscribe through contacting us.  There are over 1200 individuals and organizations that subscribe to Health Care Justice NOW.  (To unsubscribe, email us at uhcan@uhcan.org.)  Past issues of the newsletter (as well as basic U2K Campaign materials) are available at www.u2kcampaign.org.

1. HEALTH CARE JUSTICE WEEK EMAIL ALERT

Help us spread the word about Health Care Justice Week, October 13-22.  Look for the special Email Alerts about HCJ Week, which will be sent separately!

2. U2K CONTACTS IN YOUR STATE

AL * Jessie Tehranchi, AL ARISE, 205/822-5615, jtehranchi@mindspring.com

CA * Don Bechler, Health Care for All CA, 415/695-7891, dbechler@value.net

CO * Bob Danknich, Gray Panthers of CO, 303/343-7701, rdanknich@aol.com

CT * Naomi Shaiken, CT Call to Action, 203/248-0053, nshaiken@snet.net

DC * Rose Marie Flynn, Gray Panthers of Metro DC, 202/347-9541, gpanther@capaccess.org

FL * Eileen Jacobs, FL Health Care for All, 727/446-2897, eileenoneal@webtv.net

IL * Michelle Mascaro, IL Campaign for Better Health Care, 312/913-9449, cbhc@enteract.com

IN * Julia Vaughn, Citizens Action Coalition of IN, 317/205-3535, jvaughn@citact.org

MA * Linda Stamm, MA Campaign for Single-Payer Health Care, 617/357-7003, masscare@aol.com

MD * Vinnie DeMarco, MD Citizens Health Initiative, 410/235-9000, demarco@mdinitiative.org

MI * Marjorie Mitchell, MI Universal Health Care Action Network, 248/477-7911, mjmitchell@ameritech.net

MN * Paula Fynboh, MN COACT, 612/645-3733, paulacoact@mtn.org

MO * Anne Steele, Missourians for Single-Payer, 314/427-7627, abs4k@aol.com

MS * Rims & Judy Barber, MS Human Services Coalition, 601/355-7495, hn0137@handsnet.org

MT * Tom Huddleston, Montana Community-Labor Alliance, 406/443-7023, <thud@in-tch.com>

NJ * O┬╣Brien Boldt, Health Care for All NJ, 201/569-5721, obboldt@carroll.com

NV * Ruth Mills, NV Health Care Reform Project, 702/648-8124, MillsR007@aol.com

NY * Mark Hannay, Metro NY Health Care for All, 212/964-3534, metrohealth@igc.org

OH * Larry Bresler, Universal Health Care Action Network of OH, 216/241-8422, lbresler@uhcan.org

OR * Ellen Pinney, OR Health Action Campaign, 503/695-2806, ellen@ohac.org

PA * Kate Sorensen, Ad Hoc Committee to Defend Health Care, 267/253-5074, ksorensen@critpath.org

RI * Arline Bolvin, Coalition for Consumer Justice, 401/521-1534, consumerj@surfree.com

TX * Charlotte Flynn, Gray Panthers of Austin, 512/345-1869, wbillflynn@aol.com

VT * Richard Davis, VT Consumers Campaign for Health, 802/251-0915, rbd@sover.net

WA * Hans Bodleander, Gray Panthers of Seattle, 206/328-9695, hansbod@aol.com

WI * Marjorie Colson, Coalition for WI Health, 608/251-0139, marjie@merr.com

WV * Gary Zuckett, So. Appalachian Labor School, 304/659-3193, gzuckett@wvwise.org

WY * Diane Arnold, Community Action of Cheyenne, 307/477-3446 

* NEW NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

Jann Campbell, Patients United for a National Health Plan, 401/423-0782, <patientsunited@aol.com>

3. HEALTH CARE ISSUES IN THE NEWS

SECOND CLASS MEDICINE

"The U.S. spends more money on health care than any other country.  But the nation's 44 million uninsured faced a system of second class medicine," a recent consumer report says. 

The report continues: "To many Americans, the numbers are familiar - 44 million people without health insurance, or nearly 20 percent of the population under 65" Less familiar is what happens to the uninsured when they get sick" To assess how people without coverage fare in the health system, Consumer Reports undertook a six-month investigation that included interviews with more than 130 doctors, hospitals, clinics, health-policy experts, and uninsured people themselves.  The key finding: Millions without health insurance receive second-class health care, if they get any at all." 

The report finds that:

* "If you're uninsured in America, the care you get depends on chance - how old you are, what county you live in, what piecemeal programs exist, your diagnosis, how much money you can scrape together.  And it depends on your perceived worthiness" by the health care system.

* "A two-tiered system of care exists for chronically ill patients: the top tier for those who have the means to buy state-of-the-art medications and technology, and the bottom tier for those who do not."

* "Waiting lists mount and rationing occurs for most specialty care."

* "Welfare reform has meant more people leaving the welfare rolls for jobs - jobs that pay too much to qualify workers for government health coverage like Medicaid but that offer no affordable health insurance of their own. At the same time, health-care providers that in the past have cared for the uninsured in part with leftover money from insured patients have seen those funds squeezed by managed care cost-cutting.  In the end, more people need care, but the system is increasingly unable to provide it."

* "A myth exists that the emergency room provides health care for all.  The emergency room is not a doctor's office, the medical home for most middle-class Americans.  It is not the place to get primary care, follow-up care, or care for chronic conditions."

The report provides a detailed look at how uninsured people fare within America's health care system, through looking at several case studies that illustrate the larger trends.  Health care activists should be encouraged to arm themselves with information provided within this report in their own advocacy efforts towards health care for all.  To obtain a copy of this report, you can visit Consumer Reports online at this address: <http://www.consumerreports.org/Special/ConsumerInterest/Reports/009med0.htm>

AMERICAN VOTERS DIVIDED ON SOLUTIONS TO HEALTH CARE CRISIS

"Two words to any presidential candidate who attempts to appeal to health care voters: Good luck," report Richard Morin and Claudia Deane in the Washington Post concerning a survey conducted by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Harvard University and the Washington Post.

The article continues: "Health care voters disagree about what's wrong with the current health care system.  And when they disagree about what's wrong, they disagree about how to solve it.  And when they agree about the solution, they disagree on which presidential candidate would be best able to implement it."

The report groups voters into four distinct and diverse groups on health care issues:

* "Medicare Swingers: These swing voters disproportionately speak with a single voice: Fix Medicare, now.  A majority say that Medicare is one of the two most important issues in determining their vote, the only voter group to do so. Not surprisingly, nearly four in 10 have a Medicare recipient in their household Currently, 47 percent support George W. Bush and 43 percent back Vice President Gore Beyond Medicare, these voters are decidedly less interested in such issues as health coverage for the uninsured Medicare Swingers also don't have much patience for radical change in the health care system.  While they're not particularly sympathetic to big government, nine in 10 support running a new prescription drug program through Medicare rather than through private plans."

* "Friends of Bill: These voters apparently have never seen a government health program they didn't like - unless it was offered by a Republican. About four in 10 say they're liberals, seven in 10 lean to the Democratic Party, and 8 in 10 voted for President Clinton in 1996 they're voting for Gore, and by a better than a 2-1 margin These voters make up a third of all health care voters, the single largest voter group ever identified More than half - 59 percent - say there's too little regulation of health care generally Nearly three in four want the federal government to make a 'major effort' to cover the uninsured Three in four favor a national health plan. These voters are pro-government, but not necessarily anti-privatization."

* "Right in the Middle: These voters don't like big government and they don't like federal regulation" They are the least likely to have experienced problems obtaining medical care, and 99 percent have health insurance' This group makes up one in 5 health care voters and is the only one to give majority support for Bush.  Eight in 10 oppose a national health plan."

* "Free-Market Democrats: These voters are Democratic, but they show less enthusiasm for government activism than Friends of Bill voters" Free-Market Democrats overwhelmingly agree that the government has a responsibility to cover prescription medicine.  But they strongly feel private mechanisms should be brought to bear" Gore leads Bush 51 percent to 35 percent among this group, and by 2-1 they say he would do a better job than Bush on health care" About one in 4 voters are in this group."

For the complete text of this study visit the web site of the Kaiser Family Foundation, <www.kff.org>.

RALPH NADER, GREEN PARTY CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT, BACKS UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE - SHOULD UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE ACTIVISTS SUPPORT NADER?

Ever since Ralph Nader announced his campaign for President in early 2000, his campaign has been hotly debated, not least of all among health care activists.  Green Party chapters have succeeded in getting Nader on the ballot in 35 states across the nation.  Nader has expressed his support of a universal, single-payer health care system.  Currently, he is polling at about 6% nationally.  While Nader is unlikely to be elected anytime soon, he may be raising important issues in this election season.  In a pre-nomination speech, Nader said he is running because he "can no longer stomach the systemic political decay that has weakened our democracy." He views the Democratic and Republican parties as "two apparently distinct political entities that feed at the same corporate trough."  Should universal health care activists support Ralph Nader?

One U2K group, the Michigan Universal Health Care Action Network (MichUHCAN) grappled with endorsing Nader in a recent meeting.  Health care activist Art Myatt reported, "The basic argument in favor of endorsement was that Ralph Nader is the only significant Presidential candidate supporting our position [for universal health care] so we should support him.  In addition, some said, the present multi-tiered health system is part of the corporate agenda for America, and MichUHCAN must begin to oppose that entire corporate agenda.  Another point of view was that our lobbying efforts in Lansing (for U2K) are important, and endorsement of Nader would make further progress along that line difficult.  Several people expressed the idea that a vote for Nader would be a vote lost for Gore and thus would tilt toward a win for Bush."  MichUHCAN declined to endorse Nader.  The Green Party of Metro Detroit is an endorser of U2K.  Michigan health care activists are working closely with the Green Party chapter as the elections approach, and individual MichUHCAN members are also supporting Nader.

For info about Ralph Nader's campaign, visit the web site, <www.votenader.com>.  For info about the Green Party, visit the web site, <www.gp.org>.

For info about the two major party Presidential candidates, visit their web
sites, <www.georgewbush.com> or <www.algore.com>.

GORE SAYS HE SUPPORTS UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE FOR CHILDREN FIRST

Presidential candidate Al Gore's Democratic Convention speech left universal health care advocates hopeful, at least, that Gore stated support.  Many felt - although it was a hopeful sign for the political climate around health care issues that Gore would mention this - that the candidate's approach to guaranteeing health care for all was incremental.  For those that missed the speech, Gore stated his support for health care for all, and he pledged his commitment to enact health care for all children by 2004. What follows is one health care advocate's response to Gore's speech.

"Al Gore deserves praise and stirs hope by focusing his campaign on the serious issues facing working families, and pledging specific actions.  But in the area of health care his specific proposals, though excellent, fail to meet the most serious need.

His proposal to cover the costs of prescription drugs of seniors meets an urgent need of those who are insured by Medicare.  His commitment to enactment of a Patients' Bill of Rights speaks to the needs of people who are insured by HMOs.  But by far the biggest and most serious of today's health care problems is the huge and growing number of Americans with no health care insurance.

Gore's pledge to assure coverage of all children by the year 2004 is a legitimate priority.  But it is nowhere near enough.  He must make it powerfully clear that the needs of some 40 million American adults who lack health care insurance are a top priority for him.

The big majority of families who don't have health insurance are low-income families - most of them working families.  They are in a terribly insecure situation, and every day thousands of them confront  disastrous consequences when a family member falls ill or is hurt.  It is a disgrace that America's health care "system" has no coherent answer for their need.

Surely a President who is pledged to fight for the needs of working families must tackle this problem.  Mr. Gore faces a lot of cynicism about political processes among the voters he's appealing to.  He must break through their cynicism with a clear, strong message that he is committed to insure that quality health care will be available to them when they need it."  

O'Brien Boldt, Health Care for All New Jersey wrote this letter, and he urges groups and individuals involved in the U2K Campaign to send a strong message to Al Gore to take a stand for universal health care.  You can reach O'Brien Boldt at 201/569-5721 or <obboldt@carroll.com>.

For more info about Al Gore's campaign as well as the contact info of Gore's campaign headquarters, visit the web site, <www.algore.com>.

WHAT ARE THE PROSPECTS FOR HEALTH LEGISLATION IN AN ELECTION YEAR?

The July 2000 issue of "ASAP! Update - Grassroots Action for Health & Long Term Care," a publication of national health care consumer group Families USA, featured an article on the prospects for health legislation in an election year.

The article reports:  "Take a tight, contentious presidential race.  Add to it a high-stakes battle over which party will control the House of Representatives.  What do you get?  A year in which partisanship is expected to reign.  As a result, health legislation faces an uphill battle."

"Whether or not Congress can enact health legislation in this climate, the election year offers an opportunity to raise important health issues: Politicians are more likely to talk to the public about such issues and the press are more apt to report those views.  Medicare and the Patients' Bill of Rights will certainly be discussed by candidates at all levels, from the presidential race down to each congressional district. Many advocates also want to make sure that importance of expanding coverage to those without insurance does not get lost."

The July issue of "ASAP" goes on to provide detailed and useful analyses of the legislation for a Medicare prescription drug benefit, the Patients' Bill of Rights, the Clinton-Gore administration's new health care proposal, the work to restore health benefits to immigrants and the Work Incentive Improvement Act of 1999.

To find out more about Families USA publications (including reports and action kits on health issues) visit the web site at <www.familiesusa.org>. To sign up for the Families USA email list serve, go to "Get Involved" on the web site, or send an email to, <majordomo@list1.channel1.com> and type "subscribe" in the body of the email.

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES

* The Kaiser Family Foundation recently released "Prescription Drug Trends - A Chart book," which provides info about the trends in prescription drug coverage, spending, prices, use and industry structure.  Health care activists know that prescription drugs are a hot health care issue in this year's elections - and winning a strong prescription drugs benefit for Medicare is a crucial struggle along the road towards health care for all that allows health care activists to build alliances with seniors and others.  Want a copy of the study?  Visit the KFF web site, <www.kff.org/content/2000/3019> or call the publication request line at 800/656-4533. 

* Justice for All, a national disabilities rights organization, has an informative and active list serve.  To subscribe, send email to <majordomo@jfanow.org>.  For more info about Justice for All, contact Fred Fay, Chair of JFA at <jfa@jfanow.org> or visit the web site, <www.jfanow.org>.  Recently Stephanie Thomas of ADAPT (<adapt@adapt.org>) circulated the speech of Kyle Glozier, an ADAPT activists, at the Democratic Convention.  The introduction to Kyle's speech is excerpted below.

"ADAPT is a national grassroots disability rights organization that wants to change the institutional bias in the long term care system so no person, young or old, is forced into a nursing home or other institution.  ADAPT is working to create a national attendant care program called the Medicaid Community Attendant Services and Supports Act or MiCASSA.  Introduced by Senator  Tom Harkin (D, Iowa), and Arlen Specter, (R, PA), MiCASSA, or S 1935, gives Americans with disabilities a real choice of where we live and receive services.  Right now Medicaid guarantees care in a nursing home or other institution, but gives no guarantee in the community.  This is wrong! They say 'America the land of the free,' but really we are not free when the walls of institutions and nursing homes keep children, young adults and older people locked up, because of a failed 35 year old policy.  MiCASSA will reform the system and let the money and services follow the person!"

* Congressman Pete Stark (D, CA) has introduced a bill, HR 4390, the "MediKids Health Insurance Act," that would provide health care for all children.  Currently, 11 million children lack health insurance, and studies find that uninsured children are up to 6 times more likely than insured children to have foregone needed medical, dental or other health care.  "At a time of great economic prosperity, it is a shame that we are not doing more to ensure that all children receive needed health care," says Cong. Stark in a letter requesting support.  For more info about the legislation, visit the web site, <http://www.house.gov/stark> or contact Vivian Huang at 202/226-2490.

* A recent article in the Los Angeles Times notes, "With billions of dollars in profits on the line, the health care industry is waging the largest national advertising campaign every conducted by a political special interest, with a price tag for the election cycle that could approach $90 million - more than either of the major presidential candidates is expected to spend."  To read the complete text of this article, visit the web site, <www.latimes.com/news/nation/20000723/t000069186.html>

* A recent study by Kip Sullivan in Health Affairs was released by Physicians for a National Program (PNHP).  Sullivan states that "While millions of Americans have been shunted into HMO's over the past decade, there's no scientific evidence that managed care saves money 'As managed care enrollment has soared so have administrative expenses,' said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard 'The verdict is on corporate control of health care.  It has failed,' said Dr. Quentin Young, National Coordinator of PNHP."  For a copy of the study, contact PNHP at 312/554-0382.  Author Kip Sullivan is a health policy analyst and former research director of Minnesota COACT (a multi-issue state-wide justice group that works on health care issues and is the U2K State Coordinator in MN).

* Public Campaign, a national grassroots organization working for comprehensive campaign finance reform, produces an excellent email alert called, "OUCH! A Regular Bulletin on How Money in Politics Hurts You."  On Aug. 7, OUCH writes: "Now that the corporate sponsors of the Republican Convention have packed up their trade show and are moving it over to the Democratic Convention in L.A., it is a good time to pause and ask: What do these big political donors get in return for being so generous? These donor alumni are doing quite well, thank you.  Consider the story of just one of them - Fruit of the Loom In 1996, the textile company gave the Democratic Host Committee $100,000 for their Chicago convention, while its CEO, William Farley, served as Co-Chair for Republican Bob Dole's presidential campaign The company managed to convince Bill Clinton and the Congress to pass a new law in May 2000 establishing a trade agreement in the Caribbean and Central America expected to save Fruit of the Loom some $25 million in taxes. That's enough to pay the full time salaries of 2,333 minimum wage workers for a year."

To sign up to receive "OUCH" just send an email to <majordomo@linuxcare.com> that reads, "subscribe ouch."  Want more info about Public Campaign? Visit the web site at <www.publiccampaign.org> or email <info@publiccampaign.org>. 

CONTACT US*** (Let us know what you are doing in your state or region.)

Rachel Rosen DeGolia, Campaign Coordinator
Lee Chilcote, Field Organizer
U2K Campaign
2800 Euclid Ave., Suite 520, Cleveland OH 44115
Phone: 216/902-5577 * Fax: 216/241-8423
Email: <uhcan@uhcan.org>
Web Site: http://www.u2kcampaign.org

Linda Walling, Faith Communities Coordinator
U2K Campaign
15905 Fernway Rd.
Shaker Hts. OH 44120
Phone: 216/751-2440
U2kwalling@aol.com

REQUEST TO INCLUDE NEWS about your organization's activities on behalf of
U2K and health care justice to this newsletter: Send your message to
<uhcan@uhcan.org>

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