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Organizational resources, national

Kaiser Family Foundation Health policy is the major focus of this non-profit, nonpartisan foundation and it offers a wealth of information about health and healthcare in the U.S., explanations of current healthcare programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and, perhaps most importantly right now, comparisons of the provisions of the various Congressional proposals for healthcare reform (See, for example, the Foundation's interactive "Side by Side Comparison of Major Health Care Reform Proposals" and their parallel downloadable chart comparing the various healthcare reform bills, last updated through 8/7/09.) To the Foundation's credit, they have included John Conyers' single-payer bill, H.R. 676, in their comparisons (located about half-way through the downloadable chart, with some of the other bills).

Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) This organization of 16,000 doctors and others in the medical field advocates for a single-payer health care system. They note that under our current system 31% of all healthcare dollars are spent on adminstation and paperwork, and assert that converting to a single-payer system would save $400 billion a year, enough to guarantee universal healthcare coverage for all Americans.

A single-payer system would function essentially like the popular Medicare program for seniors, but would be extended to cover all Americans. The actual medical care would still be provided by private doctors, hospitals and clinics, but payment would be through a single governmental agency, rather than through hundreds of private health insurance companies, each with their own rules of coverage, differing plans, and different forms.

The leading Congressional bill for a single-payer system is Rep. John Conyers' H.R. 676, which has been summarized by the single-payer advocacy group Healthcare-Now! at According to Healthcare-Now!, H.R. 676 now has 85 co-sponsors, including western Massachusetts Congressman John Olver and Vermont Congressman Peter Welch. Despite the co-sponsorship of the bill by nearly a fifth of the members of the House of Representatives, it still gets little media coverage, or attention by the Obama administration, as one of the options to be considered for reforming our failing healthcare system.


The Diane Rehm Show (Syndicated radio broadcast on public radio; podcast) Rehm's weekly roundup and discussion of the news, available by podcast via iTunes often covers the latest Congressional and White House positions on healthcare. The 8/21/09 episode discusses the difficulties of working out a bipartisan healthcare reform plan and the Obama administration's recent statements backing away from a so-called "public component" for any reformed healthcare system (such as an 'expanded Medicare' to compete with the for-profit health insurance companies). The episode also includes discussion of Maine Senator Collins' suggested "trigger option", where a public component would automatically be created if the for-profit health insurers did not bring down costs within some specified time, say five years.

Democracy Now! (Syndicated radio and TV broadcast; podcast) Available through many public and community radio stations, on satellite TV and by podcast at or via iTunes. Diligent, serious, rigorous and wide-ranging, Amy Goodman's indispensible daily news program, Democracy Now! is one of the best news sources, if not the best, coming from a progressive perspective. Goodman frequently covers the debate on healthcare reform and is one of the few widely distributed news programs to give frequent air time to advocates of single-payer healthcare, public health care options, and critics of the health insurance industry, for example:

* Goodman's 7/16/09 interview with former healthcare industry spokesman, turned whistleblower, Wendell Potter. Potter gives an inside look at the strategies of health insurers to "dump the sick," and to influence politicians to block a public healthcare system, and recounts the experiences that led him to become a vocal critic of the private healthcare insurance system.

* Goodman's 7/17/09 interview with former presidential candidate and medical doctor, Howard Dean. While not an advocate of single-payer healthcare, Dean is a strong advocate for a public healthcare system. Dean lays out in clear detail the waste and inefficiency of the private health insurance system as it currently operates.

Bill Moyers Journal (PBS syndicated television broadcast; audio podcast) Available at or via iTunes. Moyers is one of the more thoughtful interviewers and critics of the status quo on the air, and his program gives enough time to each guest to really explore their insights and experience. Problems in the healthcare system are a regular focus for Moyers. Take a listen, for example, to:

* Moyers' 7/10/09 program "Profits Before Patients."

* Moyers' 5/22/09 program on healthcare reform.

* Moyers' 11/28/08 interview of food system critic Michael Pollan, who gives a quick but damning indictment of the connection between our sugar & fat-based food system and our deteriorating health as a nation, in terms of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other ailments.


Page last modified: 8/31/09