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Donna Smith

Donna Smith, American SiCKO, is executive director of the Health Care for All Colorado Foundation

November 22nd, 2009 5:16 PM

Before You Carve that Turkey: All In for Bernie Sanders

Those millions of us who support a Medicare for All, single-payer, reform for the healthcare crisis in this nation have some work to do over the next few days. Senators are on their way to their home states for the one-week Thanksgiving recess – and they need a little up close and personal constituent attention before dinnertime on Thursday.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is a stalwart supporter of doing the right thing for his state, our healthcare system and this nation – and he has said repeatedly that moving toward a just and economically sound system is possible through Medicare for All, single-payer. In the purest sense of giving patients control over their own healthcare, single-payer gives us all control over our choice of providers – and it gives our healthcare professionals the freedom they need to advise us on the basis of health rather than payment source.

So, even though the current Senate bill is not what we want – Senator Sanders will offer an amendment that would be a substitute for that bill and is mirrored on S. 703, The American Health Security Act.

We need to make it clear before our Senators are immersed in their own holiday events and then in traveling back to Washington, DC, that we want them to support Senator Sanders’ amendment. Call today, call tomorrow and keep calling until the home offices of the Senators close for the holidays – and many will stay open until Wednesday at noon. Tell the staff you want to talk turkey about the Senate effort.

Time is drawing short for our Senators to hear from us. Debate will begin on November 30 on the current Senate bill. Senator Sanders needs support. He has already told us that he does not expect a win on his amendment. But we are all laying groundwork for this nation to move in the right direction before long – we know that the current bills do not “bend the cost curve” enough and we know they certainly do not bend the death or bankruptcy curve nearly enough to make the bills what this nation needs.

Additionally, we want the legislation to contain language that will allow states that opt in to a single-payer system to be able to do so with the appropriate waivers from federal legal provisions which might otherwise present obstacles to doing so.

So, the ask of our Senators – each and every one, liberal, centrist or conservative – is two-fold and urgent:

1. Vote with and for Sanders’ S. 703 substitute amendment; and
2. Support state single-payer enabling language in the final bill.

Calls to DC won’t be effective this week. We can all return to that effort next week. Thanksgiving week calls must go to your Senators’ offices in your state. Look them up here, using your zip code: http://www.votesmart.org/

Tell friends, neighbors and relatives. This year, talk a little turkey about healthcare. Ask folks how thankful they would be to have healthcare as a basic human right for their neighbors and for themselves. And then help them look up their Senators’ contact information and tell them how easy it really is to call and log your concerns and your expectations for an affirmative vote for the Sanders’ amendment.

Oh, and don’t forget to thank one another for caring enough to join in the struggle. It matters. Everybody in, nobody out. Thank you all for believing that together we can change this, because we can.

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