Saturday, November 26, 2011


Healthcare for the 99%

by Larry Geller

OWS HealthcareWhile doing the dishes this evening I listened to a podcast from WBAI, my favorite radio station. Katie Robbins, national organizer for Healthcare-Now, was discussing participating with the Occupy Wall Street movement in pushing for universal, single-payer health care.

She mentioned Vermont, of course, which is waiting for federal waivers in order to begin its single-payer system. Then, surprisingly, she mentioned that Hawaii is also studying a similar system. I say “surprisingly” because it is rare for Hawaii to be mentioned in a context other than tourism on the Continent.

You can listen by either clicking on the link above or right-click and save it to your iPod or other podcast player.

Robbins mentioned her participation with the OWS movement. She mentioned that Zucotti Park is right across the street from Blue Cross/Blue Shield and that their CEO takes home a cool $13 million a year. Yeah. So that naturally segued to affordable healthcare for the 99% of us who don’t make that kind of money. Robbins mentioned the website above, HealthcareForThe99% #OWS Movement Group.

I visited the website and am impressed with the vigor of their activities. The single-payer movement seemed to me to be on life support until the Occupy movement took it up.

The website lists several organized activities. It’s amazing, actually. Don’t believe right-wing pundits or commercial media who say these folks need to get organized. They are moving fast and surely toward targets this country needs to aim for.

If you’ve been following the OWS news, you may know that some encampments may have medical tents to care for the Occupiers—or for anyone. They do understand what they want and what we should all have.

Suggestion: If you’re part of an organization that has been working towards healthcare for all, Medicare for All, or single-payer, you can’t afford not to make contact with your local Occupy group. My information may be old, but I believe that there are more than 170 nationally. Find one near you. Work together. Re-energize our campaign. 

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Is it the legislature or administration studying the Vermont model?

The Legislature created the Hawaii Healthcare Authority. You can read about it in this article:

Hawaii Health Care Reform Update 09-04-11

@Old Diver,

Yes, the administration has been looking closely at Vermont with an eye towards learning from their experience and possibly proposing we adopt something similar. The reality is, State government is facing ever-increasing and unsustainable costs due to rising healthcare expenses. So the incentive for looking at single-payer are not simply philosophical or only to provide better service to Hawaii residents. It is in the state governments own narrow self-interest to give single-payer serious consideration as the best means of cutting healthcare costs.

That is great news Kolea, thanks for the information.

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