Maxine Waters, Bobby Scott, Elijah Cummings, Barbara Lee and Jim Clyburn support Medicare for All.

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhuman.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Chicago, March 25, 1966 — Medical Committee for Human Rights)

Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13), Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-3) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (MD-7) were all among the original co-sponsors of HR-676 when Conyers first introduced the bill in February 2003. Rep. Maxine Waters (CA-43) joined them in December 2005. Rep. Jim Clyburn (SC-6) signed up as a co-sponsor in April 2008.

All five are members of the Congressional Black Caucus. The CBC provides core support for HR-676, 38 out of 47 CBC house members are co-sponsoring the bill. Lee, Waters and Cummings are also members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which is another important base of support for HR-676.

All five of these co-sponsors are deeply committed to the principle of health care as a right, and enshrining it into law with a single-payer system.

Rep. Barbara Lee was on the Democratic Platform committee in 2016 and voted to include Medicare for All/HR-676 in the Democratic Platform (it failed by one vote).

Rep. Jim Clyburn (who has been Assistant Democratic Leader since 2011) is stead-fast in his support for single-payer/HR-676, even when there was a enormous pressure to back away in 2009.

Elijah Cummings wrote a compelling Op-Ed in 2007 about the cost of not having a single payer system. He was writing after having watched Michael Moore’s movie, Sicko:

In one scene, Mr. Moore takes three small boats of sick Americans, including 9/11 volunteer rescue workers, to Cuba. They receive, at no cost, the medical treatment they had been denied at home.

We have heard time and again the statistic that 47 million Americans are uninsured, 9 million of them children. This does not even account for the more than 50 million who cannot get the care they need because they are underinsured.

The numbers are staggering, but they become more meaningful when we talk about how this trend affects the lives of everyday Americans. For me and many others in our community, our nation’s health care crisis has a face and a name. On February 25, 2007, Deamonte Driver, a 12 ­year ­old boy from Prince George’s County, died when an untreated tooth infection spread to his brain.

Deamonte Driver was a victim of our failed health care system. A routine dental checkup might have saved his life, but Deamonte was poor and homeless and he never made it into the dental chair. His is a story that chills the conscience. I simply cannot comprehend how, in a country that sent a man to the moon, we so thoroughly failed this little boy. — cummings.house.gov/…

Like most members of the CPC, Rep. Maxine Waters (CA-43) has been a proponent of single-payer for a long time. This is from a discussion of her vote for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare):

A longtime proponent of comprehensive, affordable health care for all Americans, Congresswoman Waters and her allies in the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) insisted that health care reform legislation must include a “public option” – a voluntary, public insurance program similar to Medicare that would be an alternative to profit-driven private insurance companies.

Most CPC members prefer a single payer health care system, but when it failed to gain enough support in the House as health care reform legislation was being drafted, they expressed support for a “robust public option”, which would reimburse medical providers at the Medicare rate plus 5%.  While Congresswoman Waters was pleased that the House passed legislation including a public option, she was disappointed that the reimbursement rates will be negotiated between the government and providers, a plan favored by more conservative Representatives. […]

Congresswoman Waters noted that efforts to provide health insurance coverage to all Americans was proposed in 1912 – almost 100 years ago – by Teddy Roosevelt, and Presidents following him have also supported this objective. Congressman John Dingell of Michigan has introduced the National Health Insurance Act (H.R. 15), which would provide universal health care for all Americans, during each of his terms in Congress going back to 1957. It was previously sponsored by his father when he was a Congressman.

— waters.house.gov/…

I’m thrilled these progressive stalwarts are supporting Medicare for All and co-sponsoring HR-676. If your Congressional representative is not on the list of 115 co-sponsors, please call their office and ask them why.

— @subirgrewal | Cross-posted at NotMeUs.org & The ProgressiveWing.com

Progressive Lion: John Conyers Jr. (MI-13)

John Conyers Jr. is Dean of the House of Representatives, he was first elected to Congress in 1965. He is currently in his 26th term, and is one of only seven people to have served over 50 years in Congress.

Conyers was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Rosa Parks served on his staff for over twenty years and he visited Selma to meet with Freedom Riders multiple times in the 1960s. In many ways, his longevity makes him a living link to our past.

Four days after MLK was assassinated, Conyers introduced a bill in Congress to make his birthday a national holiday. It was finally signed into law 15 years later, in 1983. Conyers has been a indefatigable champion for many other progressive causes, chipping away for decades at resistance working to create a breakthrough.

His commitment is exemplified by his determined sponsorship of two bills:

  • H.R. 40 — Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act.
  • H.R. 676 —  Medicare For All.

Conyers has re-introduced HR 40 in every Congress since 1989. In the current (115th) congress, it has 30 co-sponsors.Conyers has introduced HR 676 in every Congress since 2003. In the current Congress, it has 113 co-sponsors, the most support it has ever received.

Congressman John Conyers is on DKos and was posting intermittently till 2015. In a remarkable diary in 2008, he republished a 1974 article he’d written for the The Black Scholar. It made the case for Nixon’s impeachment. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, Conyers had helped draft the articles of impeachment that were prepared but never voted on, since Nixon resigned. The article begins:

Richard Nixon, like the President before him, was in a real sense a casualty of the Vietnam War, a war which I am ashamed to say was never declared.

Weeks after the 2016 election, Conyers highlighted the dangerous concordances between Nixon and Trump. Rep. Conyers enjoys a close working relationship with the Democratic Socialists of America and has been one of the most reliable progressive votes in Congress. He is also a staunch champion of individual rights, often getting the highest rating from the ACLU. He gets a 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign, indicating his steadfast support for LGBT rights.

Under his chairmanship, the House Judiciary committee issued contempt citations to John Bolton and Harriet Miers for failing to produce documents related to the firing of nine US district attorneys. Committee staff, under his leadership, issued a report on the Bush administration’s rush to war in Iraq, and the scandal surrounding the abuse of prisoners by US soldiers and contractors. It was titled: “The Constitution in Crisis: The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution and Coverups in the Iraq War.” He has found opportunities to work across the aisle on certain issues, notably a bill to limit the Patriot Act. As chair of the House Judiciary committee, he argued against prosecuting Wikileaks for publishing documents leaked by Chelsea Manning. In supporting the right of the ordinary Americans to know how their government was using its vast surveillance powers, Conyers stood in opposition to senior Democrats and Republicans who wanted to prosecute.

After graduating from high school, Conyers became a member of the UAW (as his father was). He worked in the Lincoln Car Factory an on the staff at Local 900. Conyers served in Korea for a year and is skeptical of our military adventures. He favors dialog and diplomacy with North Korea (see the placard by the sofa):

Oh, and he’s pretty dapper.

Conyers remains committed to responsible defense, he’s sponsored an amendment to prevent the sale of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia as they’ve been used by the KSA against civilians in their war on Yemen.

Rep. John Conyers Jr. is a Progressive Lion.

Progressive Lion is an occasional series celebrating a politician or activist exemplifying progressive values. The goal is the recognize their achievements and lives. Our initial focus will be on those whose names do not come up frequently here. If you know aspects of their career or work that are not in the diary, please share them in comments.
@subirgrewal

If we want single payer healthcare, progressives have to pressure the Democratic leadership

Meet the Press had Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) on today to talk Health-Care. Cassidy made headlines in May for insisting any healthcare plan meet “the Jimmy Kimmel test”. Cassidy supposedly agrees that healthcare is a right. The devil though, is in the details, and when he began talking about letting state legislatures and governors determine what was “affordable”, I realized it’s just a talking point for him, to appear “bipartisan”.

Block grants, or state administered programs allow Republicans to play the game they’ve been playing for several decades. Attacks on progressive programs generally fail under the bright lights of Congress, so they fall back to the dimmer rooms of 50 separate legislatures. That’s how the Voting Rights Act, Medicaid, SNAP and unemployment assistance have been gutted, with 50 small cuts and bruises.

If you believe healthcare is a right, there is a simple solution to achieve that right. Rep. John Conyers Jr.’s Medicare for All bill provides universal coverage and expands Medicare benefits in critical ways. HR 676 has more co-sponsors than it’s ever had before (113). Almost 60% of the Democratic caucus supports it.

But crucially, the Democratic Leadership in the House and the Senate does not. This is surprising because Medicare for All is extremely popular policy.

60% of Americans support Medicare-for-All, 23% are opposed and 17% aren’t sure (full poll results). Contrast the Democrats’ “caution” with the actions of the Republican leadership.

ACHA is very unpopular and the GOP is pushing ahead; single payer is very popular and Dem leadership won’t get behind it. Says everything. — @freddiedeboer

3 out of 4 Americans who have an opinion on it want Medicare for All. And yet, here we are wondering why the Democratic leadership won’t get behind it, and I don’t have a good explanation. Please help me out here, and not with some cockamamie story about the country being “center right”. Because on this issue, the country is pretty firmly hard left.

Our leadership is supposed to you know, lead. Propose policies and then gather public support for them. Medicare for All has massive levels of support among Americans. So half the work is done already. If the Democratic leadership isn’t leading us in the direction of Medicare-for-All, then they’re leading us away from it. To what exactly?

And it’s not even like the Democratic leadership support state-level “experimentation” with single-payer.

To get the leadership on board, we have to press them on it, so we can join every other OECD country in providing health care for all. It sounds radical now, but it is far less radical than it was three years ago. Remember when a $15 minimum wage sounded radical?

Wait, what’s this? Senate and House Democratic leaders joined progressives and got behind the Raise the Wage Act which would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 over time? Why yes, they did.

The energy and the momentum is with Medicare-for-All.

The alternative is a loss of momentum.

 

Warren says Democrats should campaign on Single-Payer healthcare.

Elizabeth Warren has been on a campaign footing to push back against Republican efforts to bestow enormous tax breaks on millionaires and billionaires by decimating health-care coverage for ordinary Americans.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is traveling to Trump-friendly areas of her state hoping to connect with his backers and provide a road map for her party to win back working-class voters. […]

Democrats, she said, would do better if they campaigned on that progressive platform rather than blurring the lines between themselves and Republicans. — WSJ

Warren highlighted the lengths to which President Obama and Democrats had gone in 2009-2010 to garner Republican support for the PPACA.

“President Obama tried to move us forward with health-care coverage by using a conservative model that came from one of the conservative think tanks that had been advanced by a Republican governor in Massachusetts,” Warren told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.

“Now it’s time for the next step. And the next step is single payer,” she added. […]

“The progressive agenda is America’s agenda,” Warren said. “It’s not like we’re trying to sell stuff that people don’t want. … It’s not that at all. It’s that we haven’t gotten up there and been as clear about our values as we should be, or as clear and concrete about how we’re going to get there.” — The Hill

John Conyers Jr.’s Medicare For All bill in the House now has 113 co-sponsors, that is almost 60% of the Democratic caucus.

—  @subirgrewal


Meanwhile, in California, Assembly Speaker Rendon made a decision to shelve a single-payer bill that had passed the California Senate.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon’s abrupt decision Friday to sideline a bill that would have established single-payer healthcare in California roused a swift and fiery backlash from the measure’s supporters, who accused the Democrat from Paramount of unilaterally blunting the effort for sweeping overhaul of the state’s healthcare system. […]

But even as the bill advanced through the state Senate, it was apparent that it would have to overcome several obstacles to succeed. Legislators, who voted this year to raise taxes on gasoline, were wary of backing additional taxes. The proposal hinged on approval by voters and the federal government. […]

The bill’s progress alarmed some interest groups that saw crucial questions go unanswered. Laphonza Butler, president of the statewide council of the Service Employees International Union, said her union was eager to discuss the single-payer proposal but worried that specifics about implementation, namely how it would be integrated with care programs offered by county governments, were going unaddressed. — LA Times

David Sirota writes in the IB Times that Governor Jerry Brown, who has previously supported single-payer, did not support the bill. Sirota also outlined millions of dollars in donations to the CA Democratic party and assembly members from groups opposed to the single-payer bill.

Meanwhile, NY’s single-payer bill has passed the assembly but is being held up in the Senate by the Republican speaker (who holds the position with the support of the IDC). The bill is supported by all Democratic senators, except for Simcha Felder. The Campaign for NY Health has been organizing constituent calls to support the bill.

MoveOn’s Ben Wikler on how to stop the Senate from passing Trumpcare

While we have been focused on Comey’s testimony, Republican Senators have been focused on the priorities of their billionaire masters. They want to gut ObamaCare/ACA.

MoveOn’s Ben Wikler has a very good synopsis of why we have to act this week, if we’re going to stop Obamacare from being gutted/repealed before Congress goes on its summer recess.

Wikler says we have three weeks to make this bill toxic.

It is time to pick up the phone again! There’s nothing normal about right now, and Senators should know that!

Wikler has good advice, ask to speak to your Senator’s health-care aide. If someone stalls, here’s the list of names:

Wikler also suggests e-mailing health-care aides:

Figure those e-mails out and share them on Social media.

And if/when you have your Senator’s office on the phone, tell them it’s time the Senate and House passed Medicare for All.

— @subirgrewal

HR 676 press conf: Conyers announces Medicare for all has 111 co-sponsors, 58% of Democratic caucus.

As the longest-serving representative (first elected in 1965), Conyers is Dean of the US House of Representatives. He’s been putting forward his Medicare-for-All bill in the House for the past 15 years. This Congress has seen a significant uptick in support for the bill (from fellow Democrats).

Conyers held a press-conference earlier today to mark the 111th co-sponsor. He announced the press conference on DKos yesterday.

John Conyers Jr. (MI-13), Steve Cohen (TN-9), Peter Welch (VT-AL), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Jamie Raskin (MD-8), Mark Pocan (WI-2), Keith Ellison (MN-5), Jane Ross (National Nurses United) and Dr. Philip Verhoef (U. Chicago) spoke at the press-conference, a live-stream was posted on Facebook live.

Pocan is currently co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Khanna and Raskin are vice-chairs and all the representatives at the press conference are members of the CPC.

The 111 co-sponsors accounts for a solid majority of the Democratic Caucus (a first). As Conyers’ noted, the 111th co-sponsor is Democratic Caucus chair Joe Crowley (NY-14).

All the speakers discussed how detrimental the AHCA (TrumpCare) would be for many Americans, and the importance of protecting the gains made in the ACA (ObamaCare).

Cohen and Welch talked about John Conyers’ tireless efforts and championship of Medicare for All over the past 15 years. All the other speakers echoed these sentiments.

Watson Coleman spoke about the extreme income inequality in our country, and the economics of health-care and administrative costs. Khanna had an interesting comment about the view among business leaders in Silicon Valley that we’re at a competitive disadvantage without universal health care.

Pocan talked about a town-hall he held in Paul Ryan’s district where he said the largest applause was when they began discussing Medicare for All.

Finally, Jane Ross noted that they brought on another representative today, so the tally is likely 112 co-sponsors.

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What can I do to help?

It’s very unlikely that HR 676 will be considered during this Republican controlled Congress. But it is important to get as much of the Democratic caucus behind HR 676 as we can. If your Representative isn’t on the list of co-sponsors, give them a call and ask them why not. While you’re at it, you may want to ask them whether they’ve considered joining the Congressional Progressive Caucus.