The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Cathy Albisa on 212-253-1710 x 303 or
Victoria Grant on 212-253-1710 x 308 or

New Report Casts Exclusion of Single Payer Option as a Question of Democracy and Human Rights


At a critical moment for health care reform in the United States,
The National Economic & Social Rights Initiative has published an in-depth assessment of single payer proposals, finding that a single payer system goes further towards meeting key human rights principles than market-based plans.

The question of whether national leaders will consider a single
payer system as an option for health care reform has become a question
of basic democracy. Despite most Americans supporting a single payer
solution, the Obama Administration and congressional leaders have
denied it consideration. Key stakeholders such as health care
professionals, patients and single payer advocates have been excluded
from hearings regarding health reform, prompting courageous civil
disobedience actions by health care advocates. One of the protesters at
the recent Senate Finance Hearings, Dr Margaret Flowers of PNHP Maryland,
said: "We have entered a new phase in the movement for health care as a
human right: acts of civil disobedience. It is time to directly
challenge corporate interests. History has shown that in order to gain
human rights, we must be willing to speak out and risk arrest".

In a recent article,
Donna Smith of the California Nurses Association critically suggests
that any health care reform bill that comes out of Washington will be
falsely advertised as a "human rights victory". But what would a true
human rights victory look like? NESRI's report addresses that question.

The report analyzes four bills (Conyers HR676, Sanders S703/McDermott HR1200, Vermont S99/H100 and Minnesota SF118/HF135)
against key human rights principles such as universality, equity,
affordability and comprehensiveness. It shows that if health care
reformers are serious about achieving a system that respects human
rights, single payer proposals must be given consideration as they
would vastly increase access to quality care for all individuals and
secure long-term financial sustainability.

NESRI's report is intended to support the
efforts of human right to health care advocates by providing a serious
analysis of the benefits of a single payer plan. Cathy Albisa,
co-founder of NESRI, said: "We have a
fundamental choice to make as a country; we can either be guided by
human rights that reflect our founding values or we can continue down
the path of special corporate interests. The kind of health care system
our government puts in place and what weight is given to the opinion of
the American people in the upcoming debate is an important barometer of
the health of our democracy and our ability to move towards a more
equitable society."

"A Human Rights Assessment of Single Payer Plans" is available for download at


NESRI - 90 John Street, Suite 308 - New York, NY 10038 - Ph: 212.253.1710 -

Physicians for a National Health Program is a single issue organization advocating a universal, comprehensive single-payer national health program. PNHP has more than 21,000 members and chapters across the United States.