Personal Health

The Public Option Needs Your Help

This summer's ferocious rightwing organizing against public health care needs to be countered with more organizing. Here are some ways to do it.

The healthcare battle is in full swing with the past month's news being dominated by shouting scenes of corporate-sponsored "movements" confronting healthcare reform supporters at town hall meetings coast to coast.

At the same time, the Obama administration has wavered on its commitment to the "public option" that was a central campaign promise and which is the backbone of effective national healthcare in every single one of what used to be called the advanced industrialized countries. (And don't get fooled by this co-op nonsense -- Lindsey Beyerstein's blog detailed why this new "compromise" is a doomed idea.)

As The Nation's Chris Hayes recently argued on The Rachel Maddow Show, this summer's ferocious rightwing organizing needs to be countered with more organizing. We here at Act Now! have put together some ways to do just that.

The single best thing you can do is to (politely) communicate with your elected representatives about healthcare. Tell them your personal stories. Make them understand why you support reform and why you think the stakes are so high. They need to hear from their constituents, and the people who make the effort to talk to them in person will be heard most loudly.

A recent poll showed that opponents of reform are more likely than supporters to protest, and this dynamic could kill critical reforms that are supported by a majority of Americans, and would save many lives. Is your representative having a town hall? Go to it. Bring friends. Organizing for America, the organizing arm of the Democratic National Committee, has a tool that allows you to find your congressperson's local office, or you can find representatives here and senators here. Especially important are members of the Blue Dog caucus in the House. Is your Rep a Blue Dog? Find out here.

Can't make it in person? Call and/or write your Congressional rep tool--and make it personal. Send us your stories as well--we'll post some of them on the site. Have you had a bad experience with your healthcare coverage? Do you have a Blue Dog representative or a "centrist" Senator who's waffling on supporting real reform? What do you know about them? Have you been to a healthcare event? Tell us about it.

One of the biggest problems that conservatives claim to have with providing real healthcare to all Americans is that it would be too expensive. With striking disingenuousness, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said of the national debt, "It's as if every single American gets up in the morning, walks over to the window, and tosses two dollars out into the wind, every day for the next 10 years." What McConnell failed to mention is why the deficit is so high -- eight years of a failed Republican Administration that was handed a budget surplus at its inception.

Moreover, that two dollars a day could be well-spent as Nation reader Monchel Pridget's "$2 a day for universal healthcare idea underlines. She suggested a $2-a-day drive for donations to healthcare organizing, and we're running with it.

If you can afford $2 a day for universal healthcare, join The Nation in donating to the organizing efforts on the ground. You can make a recurring donation until the bill passes, or a one-time donation of whatever you can afford. Health Care for America Now is working around the country to push for real healthcare reform, like the House bill that contains a strong public option and subsidies for people on the lower-end of the income ladder.

It's also useful to add your name to the Progressive Democrats of America's "Healthcare, Not Warfare" petition; to write your newspaper editor and call for national healthcare; to contact the AMA at (800) 621-8335 and ask it to stop supporting the private for-profit health insurance companies; to join one of the many Facebook groups in support of a public option, particularly the one trying to organize a march on Washington for a public option, and to donate to HCAN, which will pay for lawn signs and other organizing resources where it counts: in the districts of Blue Dog members and so-called "centrist" Senators whose support is crucial to passing a strong healthcare bill.

Finally, visit the sites of progressive organizations who are working on healthcare. Democracy for America's Public Option Action Pledge, Americans United for Change's ad and petition to CNN, Organizing for America's pledge to support Obama's healthcare plan, FireDogLake's Public Plan Whip Tool and Brave New Films' "Sick for Profit" all have ways you can take action for reform. Physicians for a National Health Program and the California Nurses Association are two groups of healthcare professionals pushing for single-payer healthcare.

Congress is back from recess on September 8, and we want the members to come back knowing the demand for universal healthcare is immediate and impossible to ignore.

As our colleague Hayes well wrote in a related blog post:

 

If you want health care, then do something about it. We are now in the middle of a fight. Fights are good. Democracy is fundamentally about the non-violent resolution of conflict, and we've got conflict. There is a small but very mobilized constituency of people and interests that want to kill health care reform. They have the advantage of being on the attack, or tearing down and criticizing and expressing their outrage. The job of advocates of reform is trickier, but unless there is a mobilization and concerted organized attempt to push elected representatives in a progressive direction they will succumb to the braying and bullying of tea-baggers. Find out if your congressman is having a town hall, and go. Find others to go with you. Let them know you will punish them if they don't support real reform. Call their offices. Show up at their offices.

It's on.

This post was researched and co-written by Sarah Jaffe, a blogger, freelance journalist and Nation intern.