Russell Mokhiber, editor of Corporate Crime Reporter, has just formed a new group called "Single Payer Action" that is advocating direct action to demand a single-payer health insurance system in the United States. Today, he is burning his health insurance bill outside the national meeting of the American Health Insurance Plans in Washington, D.C. [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: Russell Mokhiber, I want to bring into the conversation, longtime editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter. Russell, you’re starting a new group now, Single Payer Action. Why?
RUSSELL MOKHIBER: On the web at singlepayeraction.org. Good morning, Amy.
Well, our model, by the way, is “no compromise with the health insurance industry." And here’s the situation in Washington. According to recent polling, 60 percent of Americans support Single Payer/Medicare for All. The majority of the doctors support it. The majority of the nurses support it. The majority of health economists support it.
So why isn’t it happening? It’s not happening because the legislation, single-payer legislation, would put the health insurance industry out of business. So, to be a player in Washington now, you have to kowtow to the powerful health insurance industry, and you have to say the following six words: “Single payer is off the table.”
Now, who’s saying single payer is off the table? The health insurance industry, the Obama White House, the Democratic-controlled Congress, and most disgracefully, even some so-called public-interest groups like Health Care for America Now!, which was at this demonstration yesterday and hijacked the demonstration. And it should have been a single-payer demonstration, and it wasn’t.
So that’s why we’re creating singlepayeraction.org. We want to get a million people to sign up, and we want to have a direct confrontation with the health insurance industry and their lackeys in Congress. Take my district, the Second District of West Virginia. Shelley Moore Capito, moderate Republican, she comes from a coal state. She kowtows to the coal industry, no question. She takes — over ten years in Congress, she’s taken $290,000 from the mining industry. But she’s taken $300,000 from the insurance industry. So we’re going to get people in front of her office in Martinsburg and in front of her office in Charleston, and we are going to protest the fact that she has buckled to the insurance industry against the interests of her own constituents throughout the Second District.
Now, 18,000 Americans — thanks to the good work of the California Nurses, Physicians for a National Health Program, we know what the answer is, and the American people know what the answer is. We know that 18,000 Americans — I’m sorry, 18,000 Americans die every year due to lack of health insurance. We know that half of the personal bankruptcies are triggered by medical bills. We know that Single Payer/Medicare for All would create three million jobs. We’d lose some jobs, because you’re putting the health insurance industry out of business, so you get a net 2.6 million. We know what the answer is.
And I’m sick and tired of hearing, “Well, Obama is just a politician, and he’ll blow with the wind, so we have to create the wind.” We need some leadership here. We need to — the reason they don’t want single payer on the table is they know that if it’s on the table, it’s going to pass, because the American people want it. Doctors — used to be doctors were against it, but now doctors are in favor of it. Nurses have been in favor of it. And it’s the usual situation where the will of the American people is being stopped by the powerful players in Washington.
I’m going to burn this bill. I’m going from here to the Ritz-Carlton, where the insurance industry is meeting, and I’m going to burn this bill. This is my health insurance bill. I pay $8,000 a year for a $5,400 deductible bill for a family of four. And when I need the health insurance, which I did a couple years ago, I ended up in the hospital, where the hospital was in network and the doctor was out of network, where they wouldn’t cover the ambulance ride to the hospital. And that’s just mild compared to the stories that we hear all across America.
Now, there is an answer. The answer is not email campaigns. Congress is becoming immune to email campaigns. The answer is not letter writing. The answer is direct, face-to-face confrontation with the insurance industry and with Congress, with your members of Congress in your district. So we’re calling on Americans to sign up at singlepayeraction.org and to organize protests in front — get to know your district — your member of Congress district office. Probably less than five percent of Americans know where the district office of their member of Congress. Get to know it. Camp out there. Call the local media. The local media is going to love it. And let’s get this thing done. Let’s push through single payer for the American people, like the rest of the civilized world has. Thank you.