On October 12, the Louisville Metro Council passed a resolution endorsing HR 676, Congressman John Conyers’ single payer U. S. National Health Insurance Act. The vote was 14 to 9. Health and Human Services Chair and District 3 Councilwoman Mary Woolridge sponsored the resolution and guided it through committee and floor debate. Woolridge spoke passionately of her concern for the 85,000 residents of Louisville Metro who suffer from having no insurance.
Councilwoman Madonna Flood told of the death at age 42 of a constituent who didn’t go to the hospital with his chest pain because of his lack of insurance. She called that tragedy “a crime” and stated that if we could “put a man on the moon in 1969, then we can do better at protecting people–we can’t afford to let another citizen die.”
Councilwoman Vicki Welch responded to Councilman Heiner’s assertion that the Metro Council had done something on health care when it ran ads to try to get children enrolled in the Kentucky Children’s Health Insurance Plan. Welch, a registered nurse, said: “KCHIP is not enough–when parents in low income families are not covered, the family is devastated by illness.”
Councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh stated that this resolution should “fire a signal to Congress” that it must do something on health care.
Councilman Tom Owen told of the common practice of families buying the insurance for their adult children in their 20’s and 30’s because their jobs do not provide the coverage. He said: “We are here tonight with a message to say there is a crisis. The grassroots movement has been urging us for months to recognize it.”
Owen was referring to the dozens of addresses to council that told of the suffering and deaths from lack of insurance or insurance too costly and too skimpy to provide security. Joan Dubay and the Metro Council Committee of Kentuckians for Single Payer Healthcare organized those addresses and a massive grassroots campaign that involved hundreds.
Councilman Bob Henderson said that this resolution will “start the conversation to keep public health and safety” in the forefront. Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton said the issue is “protecting all the people–not just the big people.” Councilpersons Jim King, Dan Johnson, Barbara Shanklin, and Leonard Watkins asked to be added as sponsors of the resolution.
Councilwoman Julie Raque Adams quoted the Fraser Institute and the Pacific Research Institute attributing long waits, appalling conditions, and massive taxes to the Canadian single payer health system.
Adams was quoting from biased sources according to the Physicians for a National Health Program of Chicago (www.PNHP.org). In their Summer 2005 Newsletter PNHP says of the Fraser Institute: “Their research is so bad that not even pro-privatization Canadians bother to cite their work.” PNHP asserts that both the Fraser Institute and Pacific Research Institute are funded by the wealthy far-right Bradley Foundation and that both publish unreviewed “crackpot studies.”
Councilman Kelly Downard, with a second by Councilwoman Ellen Call, sought to send the resolution back to committee. That failed on a vote of 14 to 11.
Shortly before the debate drew to a close, Councilwoman Woolridge announced that 13 Councilmembers had signed on as cosponsors. The debate ended with a roll call vote. Watkins, Shanklin, Woolridge, Tandy, Bryant Hamilton, Unseld, Owen, Ward-Pugh, King, Blackwell, Welch, Henderson, Johnson, and Flood voted “yes.” Fleming, Kramer, Downard, Adams, Heiner, Benson, Engel, Hawkins, and Call voted “no.” Stuckel abstained, and Peden voted “present.”
Louisville joins Baltimore (MD), Erie (PA), Morehead (KY), Oberlin (OH), Lorain (OH), University City (MO), Warren County (TN), and Lorain County (OH) as local governments that have called on Congress to pass HR 676 to resolve the national health care crisis.
The text of Metro Council Resolution R 146-9-06