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Quentin Young, on observing a recent Health Reform Rally in San Francisco

Health & Medicine Policy Research Group (HMPRG)
September 8, 2009

 In this season of public debate and town hall meetings, a rally was called for the civic center in San Francisco, last week when I was visiting. I attended, curious to see how things progressed as, after all, half the democratic leadership resides in a 30 mile radius: Speaker Pelosi, George Miller, Pete Stark, Barbra Lee...  in a word it is a liberal stronghold for the democrats. 

 

The object was to show popular support for the administration's health reform bill (which, of course, has not been revealed yet, except for the public option pseudo debate).  In other jurisdictions, the unequivocal theme has been “pass the administration’s bill for a public option (?) mandate."  Significantly, however, the large single payer movement in the Bay area was wooed and welcomed. Indeed at least 2 of the endless parade of speakers explicitly supported the single payer proposal with more than enthusiastic crowd response. The whole exercise was a microcosm of the countervailing forces in play now.  The right wing disruptors and fearmongers were NOT in evidence except for a few signs at a distance from the rally. The speakers burned bridges by making the public option a true test of wills  even though the administration may already have given away this alternative.

 

 

The president’s highly touted address on health reform this coming Wednesday will indicate the strategy having gained nothing at all of bipartisanship in the Congress after weeks of giveaway. For us single payer buffs, the debate will extend  well beyond the president’s September 15th deadline and gives us a rare opportunity to explain our proposal - an outstanding virtue of single payer health reform is its simplicity. Without ignoring the really dangerous anti-democratic mood of the hardcore right wing ideologues, the national debate on fundamental health reform has garnered much more significance because the various trends have escalated the significance of the reform.

 

The new debate - changing element is, of course, Representative Anthony Weiner’s opportunity to introduce 676 as a substitute for the administration’s proposal as agreed to by Pelosi. For the first time in legislative history, a firm vote will indicate legislatively at least, the current dimension of single payer strength.  Read Weiner's enlightening post in the September 7th Huffington Post, “Giving Single- Payer a Second Look.