Health Care Rally
October 6, 2008
Garrett Adams, MD, MPH
Physicians for a National Health Program
Hello Nashville! Nashville, home of my parents, my grandparents, and my great-grandparents. Nashville, where I was born and where I learned the essential skills of providing medical care for children.
Congratulations on hosting an historic Presidential Debate.
Five years ago an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association entitled, The Physicians Proposal for a National Health Plan, changed my life. When I endorsed this plan, I was one of 8,000 physician endorsers. Today we are over 15,000 physicians, medical students and health professionals who support single-payer national health insurance in the Physicians for a National Health Program, a non-profit research and education organization.
Senator McCain, Senator Obama, and all candidates for public office, I speak for physicians today to protest a national health care payment system that yearly snuffs the life of 22,000 Americans,
A system that yearly puts over a million Americans into bankruptcy – three quarters of whom faithfully paid insurance premiums.
A system that enriches shareholders and corporate executives, rather than pay the medical expenses of sick patients.
A system that wants to insure young healthy people and to deny coverage to the sick and elderly in order to maximize profits.
A system that pays multimillions to its executives.
A system that offers bonuses to employees that can find loopholes in policies that will allow cancellation or denial of claims.
A system that does not insure people with pre-existing illnesses.
A system that allows a faithful worker whose illness forces him or her to lose their job, to also lose health care coverage and the ability to get future health insurance.
A system that forces people to choose employment, based on availability of health benefits and to remain in jobs they don’t like just to keep their “benefits” – health care hostages.
A system whose profits rely on increasing premiums, deductibles, and co-pays, and insuring healthy people while denying medical claims for the sick.
A system with no control over health care costs. We soon will spend one of every five dollars on health care, more than twice the average of other developed nations, all of whom provide universal national health care, yet we rank 37th worldwide in our system’s efficiency.
A system that allows the pharmaceutical industry to charge Americans 40% more for drugs than other countries charge.
Now listen to this, Senators McCain and Obama — A system that is carefully shielded and supported by politicians, who are rewarded with millions for their election campaign chests.
There is a cure for this sick health care system. The cure is surgery – Surgery, to remove the health insurance companies and to exert control over the pharmaceutical industry.
The health insurance industry is the problem with our health care system. It has not done, and it cannot do, anything positive for the delivery of health care in this country. For-profit, market-based health insurance is a failed and unsustainable experiment. It cannot work. When an experiment fails, the wise course of action is to abandon it and to begin a new plan.
The Declaration of Independence guarantees to American citizens the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Without health care we have none of these. A responsible government should provide health care to its citizens, just as it provides fire protection, police protection, and education. Americans deserve good health. We deserve to be and we can be a healthy nation, but not so long as we carry the added weight of the health insurance industry in provision of health care.
To cure our health system we need to operate, to excise the profiteering aspects of it; we also need to fill a prescription. The prescription is House Resolution 676, sponsored by Congressman John Conyers of Michigan, a bill now in the US Congress that will provide comprehensive universal health care in the US, publicly financed, but privately delivered, guaranteeing complete free choice of doctor and hospital. The bill has 93 co-sponsors, more than 20% of the Congress, the most support of any health reform bill in Congress.
Passage of single payer national health insurance legislation is politically feasible.
HR 676 has been endorsed by the Kentucky and New Hampshire Houses of Representatives, the New York State Assembly, dozens of cities and counties from Baltimore to San Francisco and from Warren County, Tennessee to majority-Republican Rensselaer County in New York state.
Churches have endorsed single payer national health insurance. The Presbyterian Church, the Unitarian-Universalists, the Methodists, the Episcopalians, the United Church of Christ, all have formal statements endorsing single payer NHI.
Recently the US Conference of Mayors, representing over 1,000 cities with populations over 30,000, unanimously adopted a resolution in support of HR 676.
Union support for HR 676 grows daily and includes 39 state AFL-CIO federations and 116 Central Labor Councils.
Fully two thirds of Americans support this plan, as well as the majority of physicians.
Numerous federal and state studies have demonstrated the economic necessity and viability of single payer plans.
Today you and I are part of a new American movement to demand our government jettison all forms of profiteering in the provision of health care. That health care financing become public. That all Americans receive comprehensive, medically necessary health care free from financial barriers. Incremental change will not work. We need a transformational change.
This is a movement of the people as surely as the women’s suffrage movement that gave women the right to vote, the civil rights movement, or other human rights movements.
Join the movement. We need you. We need your voices and your feet.
Listen to us, Senators McCain and Obama! Listen to us! We say
Health Care for All Now!
Can you hear us?
Health Care for All Now!
Health Care for All Now!
See Video of Speech
Photos of Rally