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Single-Payer Health Care and the Case Against Clicktivism

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Obamacare, with its promise of healthcare reform, took the wind out of the sails of the single payer movement.

In the House of Representatives, the number of co-sponsors of the single payer bill, HR 676, today is at 53 — down from a high of about 100.

Under Obamacare, 30 million Americans are still uninsured and tens of millions more are underinsured.

It’s a down year for single payer and activists are asking — what to do?

What’s the next step?

Single Payer Now’s Don Bechler says we have to hit the streets.

He’s been doing it for years — building a database of about 25,000 people — mostly in California — who support HR 676.

How does he do it?

He and his fellow activists go out and ask people to sign a card calling on President Obama to support HR 676.

The card goes to the citizen’s member of Congress and then — hopefully — on to the White House.

Only about 43 percent of the people who sign the cards put down an email address.

Bechler is clear on one thing — single payer won’t be won online.

Clicktivism won’t secure single payer.

Street activism will.

We have to meet our fellow citizens face to face — and convince them — one by one.

Not everyone is online.

Almost everyone is in the streets.

“When we talk to people about single payer, they ask questions,” Bechler says.

“I say — would you like to sign a postcard for national healthcare,” Bechler says. “And I shut up and let them ask questions. And they do.”

Does single payer cover long term care?

Yes, all medically necessary services, including primary care and prevention,  inpatient care, outpatient care, emergency care, prescription drugs, durable medical equipment,  long-term care, mental health services, dental services — excluding cosmetic dentistry, substance abuse treatment services, chiropractic services, basic vision care and vision correction — excluding cosmetic laser vision correction, hearing services, including hearing aids,  palliative care and podiatric care.

What happens if I move out of state?

Benefits are completely portable and would move with you. They would continue to be available through any licensed, legally qualified, healthcare provider in the United States. (Check out Single Payer Now’s Question and Answers About HR 676.)

Bechler says that online, it’s primarily single-payer activists talking with single payer activists.

In the streets, you’re getting a good cross section of America.

“If you want the same slice of the pie, stay online,” Bechler says. “If you want to a bigger slice of the pie, you go out on the streets and find new people.”

Bechler also questions the time activists spend talking about “framing” the single payer issue.

“You go to a national single payer conference, everyone goes to the media or framing workshops,” Bechler says. “You get on these phone calls, they are always talking about the best way to say things. There is the illusion that they have will access to a microphone where if they say something this way or that, they will breakthrough. But where’s the microphone? The press hates our guts. It’s the corporate media, the only place you get a hearing is on Amy Goodman.”

“The whole framing argument is useless. There is no perfect sound bite for single payer. You can’t say something in four sentences. When you are out on the streets, talking with human beings, they ask questions about single payer and you answer. That’s it. No sound bite is going to win this thing.”

Bechler says there is a fundamental difference between communicating online and communicating face to face.

“If I’m your neighbor, I can’t lie to your face,” Bechler says. “Face to face has more legitimacy to it.”

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Russell Mokhiber is the editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter..

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