Late June will mark the fifth anniversary of the release of Michael Moore’s documentary, SiCKO, which contrasts health care in other industrialized countries with the dysfunctional system (or lack thereof) in the United States. To mark the occasion, Michael Moore and some members of the SiCKO cast will join Wendell Potter, health insurance industry whistle blower, for a rally in Philadelphia sponsored by One Payer States.
Regular readers of this column are familiar with HealthCare4AllPA, the statewide organization promoting single-payer (improved Medicare for all) legislation that would provide comprehensive health care coverage for all Pennsylvanians. Few may be aware that similar organizations exist in other states also striving for state-based single-payer systems. Collectively, they call themselves One Payer States (OPS). Some states in the movement include Pennsylvania, Vermont, California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maine, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Delaware Maryland, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Montana, and Colorado. Hawaii is poised to be a leader in advancing its statewide single-payer system.
OPS is not an official, formal organization. It is simply a networking apparatus begun in 2009, according to HealthCare4AllPA executive director Chuck Pennacchio. It serves several functions. Via periodic telephone conference calls, fellow trailblazers in the true health care reform movement share ideas, brainstorm, plan events, focus on topics, discuss challenges and successes, bring in guest speakers, and boost the morale of the movement’s participants.
Dr. Pennacchio reminds us that almost all social, economic, cultural, or political reforms have started at the local and state levels. “Reform,” he says, “must come from the bottom up, recognizing that D.C. is so fundamentally broken, corrupt, awash in lobbyist and special interest money that success nationally must come from a lower level.”
OPS members recognize that President Obama’s 2010 legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, falls far short of covering everyone and providing the cost efficiencies of a single-payer system. Regardless of the Supreme Court decision on the law, expected at the end of this month, the fight for single-payer moves forward.
HealthCare4AllPA is hosting a gathering of OPS representatives in Philadelphia. On June 30, please join Michael Moore and the cast of SiCKO, Wendell Potter, reform advocates, and citizens committed to achieving single-payer health care in Philadelphia for an exciting event. Save the date! Find the details in the cover story, Still SiCKO After All These Years. Add your energy and effort to celebrate this worthwhile cause.