Update :: Americans Really Mean It: We Want Universal Health Care

Has the promise of the stories we’ve published turned into reality?

A Call for Universal Health Coverage

2 years ago in YES! ...

We reported on the millions of Americans with little or no access to health care. We reported on the Canadian-style single-payer system, in which doctors remain private but the government pays the bills, and we interviewed U.S. advocates who were calling for a similar program here. Single-payer would mean coverage for everyone, regardless of employment or pre-existing condition. But few politicians were signing on, and the call received little media attention.


One of thousands of house meetings held in all 50 states in response to the Obama transition team’s call for house meetings on health care reform. This one took place in Visalia, CA. Photo courtesy Obama-Biden Transition Project


Rising unemployment coupled with high insurance premiums is making health care even less accessible for millions of Americans. A Kaiser poll taken in October 2008 reports that 71 percent of the uninsured delayed needed health care because of cost, as did 34 percent of those who had insurance.

The position of the American people on universal health care is clear: 66 percent say we should provide coverage for everyone, even if it means raising taxes. When Change.org invited the public to propose and vote on top priorities for the Obama administration, single-payer health care made the top three. At Moveon.org, 65 percent voted to make universal health care the top priority, more than any other goal.

Small-business owners agree—70 percent of those responding to a recent 12-state survey said government should play a strong role in guaranteeing access to health care and 59 percent supported a “public insurance option.”

Single-payer health care would create 2.6 million jobs, according to a new study by the California Nurses Association. It would also infuse $100 billion in wages into the economy.

President Obama campaigned on a public/private health-care reform plan that would give everyone the option of buying into public insurance—at a subsidized rate if necessary. During the transition, thousands of local meetings were held in all 50 states in response to Obama’s call for discussion of health care options. As of press time, Department of Health and Human Services officials had not responded to our request for the results of those meetings. However, the groups we heard from all called for single-payer health care.

Sarah van Gelder wrote this article as part of Food for Everyone, the Spring 2009 issue of YES! Magazine. Sarah is the Executive Editor of YES! Magazine.

Interested? www.YesMagazine.org/healthcare for coverage of the options and citations for this update.

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