Something interesting is happening. First, “Health Care for America Now” (HCAN) announced their $40 million K-street-based grand coalition, that had many good points to it, but tried to take Single Payer off the agenda. Then they put up a Blog on their website, and it promptly filled up with the real grassroots supporting Single Payer and calling them out on it. Then one of their coalition partners, the AFL-CIO put up a Blog supporting HCAN… five out of five commenters supported Single Payer… and then they closed comments! Meanwhile back at HCAN, their blogs continue to fill up with Single Payer advocates. Apparently we are the real grass roots after all.

While the beltway and people “who knew better” did little after 1994, it has been Single Payer advocates who continued more then anybody to do the hard work of actually building a grassroots infrastructure and support.

As Jon Cohn admitted:

You can see it in the press coverage, as reporters, myself included, hype the work of lawmakers like Senator Ron Wyden, who has been pushing a bipartisan bill that would give everybody private insurance. Meanwhile, almost nobody bothers to interview Representative John Conyers, even though his single-payer bill has 90 co-sponsors–not enough to earn it passage, perhaps, but surely enough to earn it a place in the conversation.

Actually HR-676 now has 91 co-sponsers, having added one more just this past week.

HR-676 has been endorsed by over 417 union organizations in 48 states including 107 Central Labor Councils and Area Labor Federations and 33 state AFL-CIO’s (KY, PA, CT, OH, DE, ND, WA, SC, WY, VT, FL, WI, WV, SD, NC, MO,MN, ME, AR, MD-DC, TX, IA, AZ, TN, OR, GA, OK, KS, CO, IN, AL, CA & AK).

It has the vigourous support of the largest Nurse’s Union (CNA/NNOC), and the largest Nurses professional association (ANA). And the National Association of Social Workers.

It was endorsed last year by largest physician specialty group, the American College of Physicians which represents Internists, and in a recent editorial in their professional journal (.pdf).

And of course Physicians for a National Program (PNHP) with organized activists in most States.

It has been recently endorsed by the U..S. Conference of Mayors.

Oh yes… HR-676 has also been endorsed by the Assembly of the Urban Caucus of the Episcopal Church, General Board on Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association of the Presbyterian Church (USA). And most recently Unitarian-Universalist.

We have explained why as a matter of policy it is a mistake to take Single Payer off the table and to ignore John Conyers HR-676.

So, just maybe it is not a good idea to ignore us or tell us shut up. We have explained why it is wrong as a matter of strategy, politics and real coalition building.

None of us wants there to be no real reform (even if it is a first step) in 2009-2010!

But do not ignore us.
Do not tell us to shut up.
Do not tell us to go away.
Do not ask for our support after the fact.

So here is a deal… You include single payer advocates at the table from the beginning, you leave single payer in as an option, and I (speaking just for myself, not necessarily PNHP as an organization) won’t insist on it as the only option. This is just the beginning of the fight with AHIP, Pharma, the for-profit hospitals… there’s no need to take any of our chips off the table before real negotiations even begin. Let us organize and fight together?