Greens Challenge Baucus & Insurance Defenders to Debate Single-Payer Advocates

For Immediate Release

Green Party
Contact: 

Scott McLarty, Media Coordinator, 202-518-5624, cell 202-904-7614, mclarty@greens.org
Starlene Rankin, Media Coordinator, 916-995-3805, starlene@gp.org

Greens Challenge Baucus & Insurance Defenders to Debate Single-Payer Advocates

WASHINGTON - Green Party leaders challenged Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and other
defenders of health care reform based on private insurance to debate
advocates of Single-Payer national health care in a public forum.

Greens also challenged the major media to broadcast the debate.

"Americans deserve to hear a debate on the merits of
Single-Payer/Medicare For All versus the merits of a health care system
dominated by for-profit insurance companies and HMOs," said Angel
Torres, co-chair of the Green Party of Maricopa County (http://www.maricopagreens.org), which organized a rally for Single-Payer in front of the office of Congressman Harry Mitchell (D-Ariz.) on May 30.

"Greens are prepared to defend Single-Payer publicly.  We also
challenge groups like Physicians for a National Health Program, the
Healthcare-Now Coalition, Single-Payer Action, and the California
Nurses Association to represent the Single-Payer side.  Single-Payer
supporters have been fighting to get public attention, especially for
Rep. John Conyers' Single-Payer bill, HR 676," said Mr. Torres.

Greens participated in national Day of Action for Single-Payer events throughout the US on May 30 (http://www.gp.org/press/pr-national.php?ID=218).  In Augusta, Maine, 2004 Green vice presidential candidate Pat LaMarche hosted a Single-Payer rally at the statehouse (http://morningsentinel.mainetoday.com/news/local/6407921.html).

Sen. Baucus, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, has called
Single-Payer "off the table" and barred Single-Payer advocates from
participating in committee roundtables on health care reform that took
place in May.

In Pennsylvania, Democratic politicians are trying to discourage state Single-Payer advocates (http://www.Healthcare4allPA.org), including Greens, from participating in a health care lobby day on June 11 organized by the AFL-CIO.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Democrats and
Republicans accepted over $46 million in insurance industry donations
in 2008 (http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=F09).
 According to Consumer Watchdog, Sen. Baucus has taken more campaign
contributions from health insurance firms ($183,750 in the last two
election cycles) and pharmaceutical companies ($229,020) than any other
Democratic member of the House and Senate.

Greens blast misleading TV ads

Green Party health care activists warned that private insurance
defenders are placing ads to mislead the public about health care
reform, even to the point of confusing private insurance-based plans
favored by President Obama and Democratic leaders with Single-Payer.

Recent TV ads have featured Rick Scott, chair of Conservatives for
Patients' Rights, who was fired from his position as CEO of
Columbia/HCA in 1997 after he was caught trying defraud the federal and
state governments for hundreds of millions of taxpayers' dollars in
false Medicare and Medicaid payments, the largest Medicare/Medicaid
fraud in history.  The company had to pay back $1.7 billion, but Mr.
Scott, instead of facing prosecution, received $10 million in severance
pay and $300 million worth of stock.

"The last thing private insurance lobbies want is open and honest
discussion about Single-Payer.  Sen. Baucus has remained steadfast in
rejecting Single-Payer and excluding advocates from future hearings.
 But we're hopeful that Sen. Ted Kennedy will invite pro-Single-Payer
physicians to an upcoming June 10 and 11 hearing hosted by the Senate
Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, which Sen. Kennedy
chairs," said Jody Grage, treasurer of the Green Party of the United
States.  (See http://www.opednews.com/articles/Baucus-Tells-Single-Payer-by-David-Swanson-090603-713.html)

Greens argue that for-profit health insurance adds high costs
(administrative overhead, demand for profit) but no value (medical
treatment).  All other industrial nations guarantee their citizens
health care; no one in Canada, which has a Single-Payer system, faces
financial ruin because of illness or injury.

Single-Payer, based on Medicare (administrative costs: about 3%),
eliminates the inefficiency of private coverage, drastically cutting
costs while covering all Americans ("everyone in, no one out") and
allowing full choice of physician and hospital.  Greens said that the
reforms favored by President Obama and many Democrats don't curb
inefficiency, because they leave the insurance/HMO gatekeepers in
charge (http://www.gp.org/press/pr-national.php?ID=216).

Green leaders noted that polls have shown widespread popular support
for a national health care program that guarantees universal coverage (http://www.wpasinglepayer.org/PollResults.html).  In 2008, the US Conference of Mayors endorsed Single-Payer (http://www.usmayors.org/resolutions/76th_conference/chhs_03.asp), as have thousands of physicians.

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