01-15-09 Nation-Single-Payer Health Care Would Stimulate Economy by John Nichols

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    Published on Thursday, January 15, 2009 by The Nation

    Single-Payer Health Care Would Stimulate Economyby John NicholsThere is an unhealthy tendency on the part of politicians and journalists to see discussions abouteconomic recovery and health care reform as separate debates.

    In fact, one of the most important steps on the road to economic recovery - or, more precisely, towarda new, responsible and sustainable prosperity - involves the fundamental reform this country's brokenhealth care system.

    But it must be the right reform: the establishment of a national single-payer style healthcare reformsystem by expanding the existing Medicare system to cover all Americans. According to a new "SinglePayer/Medicare for All: An Economic Stimulus Plan for the Nation" study released today by the NationalNurses Organizing Committee/California Nurses Association, such a reform would provide a majorstimulus for the U.S. economy by creating 2.6 million new jobs and infusing $317 billion in newbusiness and public revenues into the economy. This reform would, according to the study, add $100

    billion in wages to the currently sputtering U.S. economy.

    Indeed, notes the NNOC/CAN, the number of jobs created by a single-payer system, expanding andupgrading Medicare to cover everyone, parallels almost exactly the total job loss in 2008. "Thesedramatic new findings document for the first time that a single payer system could not only solve ourhealthcare crisis, but also substantially contribute to putting America back to work and assisting theeconomic recovery," says NNOC/CAN c o-president Geri Jenkins, RN.

    Specifically, notes Jenkins, expanding Medicare to include the uninsured, and those on Medicaid oremployer-sponsored health plans, and expanding coverage for those with limited Medicare, would:

    1. Create 2,613,495 million new permanent good-paying jobs (slightly exceeding the number of jobslost in 2008) -- and jobs that are not easily shipped overseas

    2. Boost the economy with $317 billion in increased business and public revenues

    3. Add $100 billion in employee compensation

    4. Infuse public budgets with $44 billion in new tax revenues

    "Through direct and supplemental expenditures, healthcare is already a uniquely dominant force in theU.S. economy," says the study's lead author, Don DeMoro, who directs the Institute for Health andSocio-Economic Policy, the NNOC/CNA research arm. "If we were to expand our present Medicaresystem to cover all Americans, the economic stimulus alone would create an immense engine thatwould help drive our national economy for decades to come.

    The union is highlighting its "Single Payer Job Recovery" plan with a major rollout today and activistswith Progressive Democrats for America and other groups that support single payer are staging anational call-in to Congress Thursday. Here's thePDA Action Alert on the new push for single payer:

    Congressman John Conyers will reintroduce HR 676, his single-payer healthcare bill in the 111thCongress. Please ask your representative to cosponsor the bill and actively work with Rep. Conyers togain additional cosponsors. In order to ensure HR 676 is part of the healthcare discussion in Congress,we need 150 cosponsors by the end of February.

    Former Sen. Tom Daschle, President-Elect Obama's nominee for Secretary of Health and HumanServices, called for "a government-run insurance program modeled after Medicare" in testimonybefore the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions as part of the solution to ourhealthcare crisis. His plan also includes health insurance corporations. Only HR 676 would implement asustainable, fair, and efficient solution to the healthcare crisis as well as providing economic stimulus.

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    While single-payer healthcare proponents have made good headway in the House, there is still nocompanion bill in the Senate. Urge Sen. Edward Kennedy to sponsor a companion bill to HR 676 in theSenate.