Universal healthcare grassroots movement

Nurses Activism




As the economy slows down, and more Americans are facing the potential financial burdens of inadequate health insurance coverage or no coverage at all, it is urgent that a common plan be formulated to initiate a popular campaign that can finally move society to take action in support of universal health care.

As we have seen, the road to health care reform has had many turns, including many dead ends. Various campaigns and many initiatives have been tried; we traveled in many different directions but have not found the way. Although our vision and determination to make quality health care a right of every citizen is just and unwavering, we have been unable to formulate a plan and unleash a campaign that could move society to take action in support of universal health care. In contrast to past movements for social justice, our efforts to find an effective approach have eluded us for over half a century. Let no one be in doubt

- there has been no predominant social movement for universal health care, merely sporadic and episodic campaigns and demands for health care justice, allowed to ignite, flame brightly, sputter, and die out.

The vital approach begins with our willingness to recognize and accept the lessons of past movements for social justice, equality and rights which require that those who support reform must finally agree to seek common ground, unite, plan and act together and move in the same direction in building a uniform popular movement for universal health care. It is only through strategically using combined talents and resources and a central plan that the isolated cries for health care reform can enlist the support and mighty roar of many Americans from coast to coast, thus initiating a true movement.

The whole answer, the whole truth, is no different from before. Our struggle for rights in health care is a part of America's unfinished work; it should be perpetuated in accordance with the nation's long historic journey for justice, and demands - as with past movements - that those whose rights are being denied must take part.

We are trying to determine if you might be interested in being involved in this new effort to seek common ground in order to build a nationwide grassroots movement for universal health care.

Philip Pollner, M.D.

Nancy Wooten, Ph.D.

Don McCanne, M.D.

Those who are interested please respond by email to [email protected] or

call Dr. Pollner at 302-266-7373 evenings (EST).

Please forward this message to friends, colleagues and to the leadership

of organizations that might share our vision.

Do you know any of these docs personally? I have to wonder about physicians who want universal health care. Maybe I am just paranoid, but seems that it will hurt them more than the rest of us, and perhaps the agenda here is to equal the reimbursement field or level of physician playing field. I could be wrong, but definitely more research is needed.

The physicians named in this grassroots movement are all successful, well respected, and nationally known in their fields and for their work in the single-payer movement. Doctor's incomes would change little, though the disparity in income between specialists would shrink. The need for "wallet biopsy" before treatment would be eliminated; time currently wasted on administrative duties could be channeled into providing care; and clinical decisions would no longer be dictated by insurance company policy. They would have more control and say-so than they do in the current system. Universal healthcare will not "hurt" doctors. Physicians are poorly served by the current system. The financial pressures placed on physicians by most managed care organizations have undermined the trust at the heart of the patient-physician relationship. Pressured by HMOs to increase profits, physicians are encouraged to spend as little time as possible with patients and often to undertreat them by not referring them to specialists. Cost-cutting measures allow critical health decisions to be made not by qualified medical professions, but by HMO administrators and managers. Why is it so surprising that doctors would be for a national health program? Why the paranoia? Why would doctors want to hang-on to our present system? Many want major reform!

Just some of the Medical endorsements include:

PNHP(10,000 doctors)

American Public Health Association (30,000 doctors)

American Association of Community Psychiatrists

Massachusetts Academy of Family Practice Physicians

American Medical Women's Association(13,000 doctors)

Alameda-Contra Costa Medical Society

American Medical Student's Association-marched on Washington

D.C. Medical Society

National Medical Association (6'000 doctors)

American College of Physicians (Illinois Chapter)

Long Island Dermatological Society

Isalamic Medical Association

American College of Surgeons

American Nurses Association

American Medical Association-D.C. and Maryland Chapters

California Nurses Association

Just in my "neighborhood" the physicians don't like universal health care, or any other changes. Not that they like the HMO's either, they just want it to go back to the good old days. I guess that the paranoia comes from "if it seems to good to be true, it is" thinking. I will look into it more. We know our current ssystem is not only flawed, but failing and certain to change whether we like it or not. I would like to have a voice in the changes, at least in how they affect nursing. Of course, as a patient, I would like to have options as well. Thanks for the information.

I understand the concept of universal healthcare. However, I am not sure the model "increasing the insurance pool" is the solution.

What is needed is affordable "access" to healthcare. Having insurance is not healthcare. Insurance is not an interchangeable word with healthcare. To many people believe heathcare and insurance mean the same thing. The fact is - just because one has insurance does not mean one has afforable access to healthcare. However, the government and others believe this is the correction needed. Many people have Medicare. Are their healthcare needs being met? I think not!

I do not support the concept of Universal Healthcare. I believe the concept should more correctly be called "Universal Insurance". Should we develop an account with huge amounts of money singled out for heathcare cost? And then allow Doctors, Administrators, Attorneys and Legislature dictate where the money goes? Universal Healthcare is mislabeled and misleading.

Healthcare would be better served, if the main players returned to the Doctor, patient relationship. Third party players such as, HMO's, insurance, etc. should be eliminated from this relationship. All medical billing should be to the patient. It is the patients responsibility to deal with the financial aspects of his/her care. If the patient has insurance it is his/her responsibility to submit to insurance or private pay. Insurance prying into the Doctor, patient relationship has been one of the major causes of the current problems and the current increases in healthcare cost.

Do the Doctors and hospitals want a hugh pool of money to bill services for - absolutely ! Do they want the patient to know what the cost really is - absolutely not.

Healthcare is not a "right". It is a choice. We fail if we view heathcare as a "right" and repeat mislabeling and interchanging words.

No support for Universal Insurance sorry I mean "Universal Healthcare". Submit another plan, this is just the same old thing which isn't working now and has little to no hope working in the future.

Just my thoughts !!


Interesting. A few glitches came to mind, though.

How would we handle the children in this country? 21% are at poverty level.

You stated that healthcare is a choice. I don't believe that's true for the working poor. We have a huge service industry in this country and there are millions of workers getting $8.00/hr to serve. Their's is not a choice re: what to do with the paycheck. Food and shelter come first and there is no money left for healthcare.

Do we really want to direct healthcare to only those that have the money to pay? What kind of society do we want for ourselves? To apportion healthcare only to the 'haves' versus the 'havenots' is ugly. I don't have the answers. I just wouldn't want to live in a community that does this.

Does the newborn of wealthy parents get the needed surgery for a cardiac defect while the poor babe does not?

I'm against socialism and bigger government in any way, shape, or form. Period. Healthcare, IMO, is not a 'right.' Sob stories about babies don't tug at my heartstrings at all.

The constitution of this country grants all people who come here one thing: OPPORTUNITY. Opportunity to get pregnant out of wedlock and at a young age so you cannot afford to care for your children, opportunity to have an anti-achievement mentality and choose not to get the best grades and pursue a career outside the local mcdonald's, opportunity to choose whether or not you want to make something of your life. OR, the opportunity to resist premarital and premature sex and childbearing, the opportunity to pursue an education despite the anti-achievement urban mentality, the opportunity to decide that you will set your goals higher than the local mcdonald's.

Just my thoughts. With Liberty being an increasingly scarce notion in this country, I choose Liberty over govt. handouts.

Hi. The defining question for me goes beyond whether health and medical care is a right or choice. The issue for me is whether there should be a moral and ethical obligation to provide equal access and services for all. A poster included the term liberty in his/her post. Wouldn't a person receiving good quality healthcare and learning his/her obligations in maintaining good health be liberating? I just think it would be difficult to have life, liberty, and pursue happiness (we just celebrated Independence Day in the US) without good health. We need to make every attempt to drive this home with people who use the system as if we're trying to save souls. Health and medical care should be delivered or administered as a ministry and not an industry. Greed, fraud, abuse, mismanagement, and waste within the system has had devastating effects on the health of the participants. I'm afraid we've not seen the worse yet.

Therefore, in my opinion, the health and medical care system needs to be reformed in favor of strengthening this country, this world. And no, it does not need to be solely physician driven. Nurses arise!

Liberty also means not having someone else's ideas of what's morally and ethically correct forced down my throat in the form of having to pay for universal healthcare.

My first argument for Universal Coverage is one of fairness. Most of those without insurance are the working poor. They are also denied the tax subsidy people with employer-provided health insurance receive-the cost of the insurance is not treated as income by the IRS. It is hard to defend such a program. In every industrialized society, health care is considered a fundamental element of citizenship, one of the social rights Europeans and Canadians enjoy. To leave many of the poorest Americans bereft of health insurance is to deny them equal citizenship. Yes, I do believe that health care is a right. Fairness is important, but this argument alone is not likely to persuade everyone.

My second argument has to do with work incentives. The problem with programs restricted to poor people, like Medicaid, is that they contain work disincentives--if you make too much money you are ineligible and therefore might choose to work less in order to keep your health insurance. Universal coverage solves this problem because you receive the benefits regardless of how hard you work. There are no disincentives to work. One of the reasons the European middle class eventually decided to support universal health insurance and pensions was their realization that it promoted work.

Finally, there are the costs of the current system. having over 44 million uninsured people is very expensive. These costs are less tangible to voters than a slight tax increase, but they are very real. They include the cost of treating more serious diseases since the uninsured are less likely to get regular check-ups; and economic costs--uninsured people with health problems are less likely to be efficient workers. Universal health insurance ought to be considered an investment in our collective well-being. As a nurse I value human life and health. Just like our public education system gaurantees everyone an education--why can't we also gaurantee everyone adequate health care?

Thats all for now--Bet you know I have more to say!!

Hi fiestynurse. I think that you present some good arguments on the pro side of universal health coverage (I agree with a previous poster that coverage and care are separate issues). I feel that with the amount of money that has been changing hands within this system, the delivery of health and medical care can be more than adequate.

You've rightly pointed out that support for access to good quality health for everyone needs to be more than fair or justified. For me, it's a matter of the heart. I'm not an anti-government vigilante nor am I a strident anti-privatization monger. I just feel that when it comes to mind, body, and spirit, health and medical coverage is necessary to give everyone who desires a fighting chance to succeed in a capitalistic society. Right now, the only ones who seem to have adequate health coverage or insurance are those who are not working, those in government, and those who can afford to pay high premiums and additional costs.

Most of us nurses, I would dare say would not be able to afford all of our health and medical needs if we did not have group insurance. It's true that copays, deductibles and the like supposedly keeps us honest. But, the fact remains that premiums still continue to rise because the cost of caring for an increasingly chronically ill society is rapidly rising. We still have the 40-50 million people with no or little health insurance coverage. Yes, we are paying for these people and those who insurance does not cover the long term complications of long illnesses.

So, what's the answer? I don't know specifically. I just don't think in matters of health care delivery we can brush it off that easily as not wanting to have anything to do with it or saying it does not or should not affect us as individuals. None of us, unless we are hermits, live as an island. What we do with our own individual health as well as with the health of others does have impact beyond the immediate. Thanks fiesty for making me think. You know I'll still be thinking and may come back with a totally different perspective.

Sunday July 8,2001

Portland Press Herald, Portland Maine

INTERVIEW with Howard R. Buckley: As policymakers struggle with managed care, the CEO of Portland's Mercy Hospital champions universal health care for all Mainers.

Very interesting interview. To read it all point your browser to:


After 7/8/01 can be found under Business Sunday archives.


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