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Yes, Now is the Time

There are many reasons why we need to continue to reform our health care system.   The basic problems with the current system that we should focus on are the following:

  • It leaves Profit First insurance companies in charge.   These companies siphon off billions of dollars that could be going for care, but instead go to enrich already wealthy shareholders.

  • Millions will still be left uninsured and millions more will be greatly underinsured, leaving them vulnerable to financial ruin.

  • The cost of insurance has been somewhat controlled, but the cost of actual care has not.   Individuals may actually be spending more for care due to the trend towards higher deductibles and additional co-pays wherever they can be applied.
So we have a clear cut choice: Shall we continue such a system? Or shall we move forward to one that guarantees quality health care for all, regardless of employment status, financial status or any other status?

SPAN Ohio seeks to create a health care system that meets human rights standards:   universal, accessible, financed justly and fairly, and accountable to those it serves:   you and me.

Many of us want that type of system in place because it offers us the security of knowing it will be there when we need it and provides the protection we need to meet our family's needs.  Many of our unions have endorsed what SPAN Ohio is trying to do.  But, endorsements will not further the cause unless they are accompanied by action
Unions have a long history of achieving many victories in social and economic justice.   Unions, in many ways, represent all workers in the workforce because unions set the standards for working conditions.   It is because of the vision and activism of union members that most social justice programs are achieved.  It is almost impossible to achieve such victories without union support and a large grassroots movement.

Some examples:

Vermont passed a law that will allow them to design a single payer system to take effect in 2017 when the waivers under the ACA become available.   Why was Vermont successful?   There were many organizations that came together in support for the law.   Besides the single payer groups like SPAN, Vermont Worker's Center, an affiliate of Jobs With Justice, was extremely active in the campaign.   Vermont Workers Center members showed up all over the state.   They used every opportunity to be visible and carry their message that health care is a human right.   Their message was constant, consistent and visible.

Also involved and highly supportive was the Vermont Teachers Union.  Martha Allen, Vermont NEA President said, “Many people may have been surprised and a little curious (to hear) Vermont-NEA was backing the move toward universal, publicly funded health care.  After all, the thinking goes, members of the state’s largest union already have comprehensive and affordable health insurance, so why on earth would they support Vermont’s efforts to become the first U.S. state to go down this road?  The answer, of course, is that the creation of Green Mountain Care is good for Vermonters.”

In addition, AFSCME Council 93 and the Vermont AFL-CIO supported the move.  This allowed them to build a strong and widespread grassroots movement that had the influence to affect legislation.

Twice California passed single payer legislation just to have it vetoed by Arnold Schwarzenegger.   Why was California able to get so far?   There are several single payer activist groups in California working towards this goal.  But, they had a lot of help.  Mostly it was due to the work of the California Nurses Association, an affiliate of National Nurses United, along with the California School Employees Association and both statewide teachers unions.  Most of the affiliated members of Campaign for Healthy California are unions.   They were well financed and had widespread grassroots support.

New York has made significant progress in gaining support for single payer.   Along with the tireless efforts of Single Payer New York, the campaign received a big shot in the arm when SEIU and the Communications Workers joined with the New York Metro chapter of PNHP in gaining legislative support for the state's single payer bill.   They have the votes now and the only obstacle is actually having that vote taken. 

Health care has become an issue that cannot be solved at the bargaining table to either side's satisfaction.   When John Kasich talked about shabby benefits for Bob Evans employees, his goal was to reduce the benefits of public employees to that level, making it the standard.   Instead, we have to join together and make sure that all workers have affordable access to comprehensive high quality health care through a system that meets human rights standards:
  • Everyone must be included.
  • Elimination of all barriers to high quality, comprehensive health care, including dental, vision and mental health services.
  • Financed in a non-discriminatory manner and so that cost does not bar anyone from receiving the care they need.
  • The system must be transparent in design and accountable to the people it serves:   you and me.
  • There must be public oversight to ensure that the above principles are met at all times.

To reach any of our goals, with healthcare or other issues, it is necessary that we all join together and support each other in our missions.  If we are willing to do that, we can achieve many great things and have the power to move public policies to a higher ground than what we have been seeing lately.   Those of you who are union members know that we are stronger together than we are as individuals.  That is why we join together in unions.   That translates to every aspect of society.  We do not have to give up our differences, but we do need to find our common ground and work together to achieve that.
Here is what we do have in common:  We will all be patients someday.   We want the best care possible for ourselves and our loved ones.  We do not want to have to make a choice between health care and food.   Every life matters and every life has value.   Every life has the right to high quality, comprehensive care when needed, no matter what the station in life or status of the individual.

If you are not in a union, we need you, too!   We need help in spanning the state and educating the people of Ohio.   We need help in recruiting other activists.   We need help in spreading the word.   All of you can do that. 

There is no doubt that this will demand a sustained and vocal effort, but the more of you who actively engage in the campaign for a fair and just health care system, the less time it will take and the lower the burden on any one individual.
People may tell you it's not the right time.   I say YES, it is the right time.   Under the ACA, state waivers for innovation become available in 2017.   Those waivers allow states to design their own system to better serve the people living there provided that they cover at least as many people as the ACA, have at least as good coverage as the ACA, which won't be hard to do, and don't cost the federal government any more money than they are spending now.  What SPAN Ohio proposes certainly meets that criteria and exceeds it on many levels.   We need to be ready to take advantage of those waivers and move Ohio forward.

Ask yourself this question:   When you are sick and scared or injured and in pain, how do you want to be seen?   Do you want to seen as a human being in need of care or as a revenue source for ever increasing profits?  If you want to be seen as a human being deserving of care, actively join us.
What Can You Do?

Hold a house party to talk about health care reform.   Invite a diverse group, not just choir members.   Allow people to talk about what they like and dislike about the current system and the ACA.  Bring up the waivers that are available and ask them what they would do to make Ohio's healthcare system better.  If they favor single payer, have them sign up on the SPAN website right then and there ( SPAN Ohio ).   Ask those in attendance to commit to holding their own house party.

Contact your state legislators and let them know that you support SB 104, the Health Care for All Ohioans Act, and HB 121, The Ohio Health Security Act.   Don't just contact them once.   Contact them often.   Weekly is good if we're all doing it.

Invite a SPAN speaker to a meeting of an organization to which you belong.  It can be a Garden Club, church group, union, neighborhood organization.   Contact us at for a speaker.

Moral Movement Ohio

The Moral Movement Ohio had an excellent kick off in August and SPAN was well represented at each meeting during that week.   This movement is meant to be ongoing.  It didn't end in August.  

This movement is not about one single issue, it's about agreeing to meet on one day at a specific time because things just ain't right.  As people with strong moral convictions who want better for all Ohioans, we must join together and start unifying our voice in order to make change.
You, me......"we"...... are all part of a moral movement asking for the forgotten voices to be heard.   Bring the signs and wear the red t-shirts that represent the campaign for Health Care as a Human Right and stand with us as we lift up our collective voices.  

Wednesday, October 15th
4:30 pm to 5:30 pm
3rd Street Steps to the Statehouse


Medicaid Expansion - Part II

When Ohio expanded Medicaid under the ACA, it did so on a temporary basis through action of the Controlling Board.  Unless the legislature acts, Medicaid expansion will end on June 30, 2015 and 340,000 Ohioans will lose their Medicaid coverage. 
The coalitions around the state are back in active mode to encourage the legislature to continue the expanded Medicaid coverage.  Rather than call it expansion, we are looking at it as re-authorization. 
SPAN Ohio is a founding member of the Northeast Ohio Medicaid Expansion Coalition (NEOMEC) and will continue to work with this group as well as the Akron Medicaid Coalition.

What can you do?   First, contact your legislators and encourage them to support the re-authorization of the expanded Medicaid program in Ohio.   Second, attend the Moral Movement event on October 15th.   The Moral Movement has the re-authorization of Medicaid as a primary goal in Ohio, while initial expansion is the primary goal in other states.   As Reverend William Barber stated, healthcare is primary in our quest for social justice.   If we're all dead through lack of access, the other issues are moot.

Happenings Around the State

Arlene Sheak and Warren Haydon held a meeting with OPERS (Ohio Public Employees Retirement System) retirees in Region 3 and received a positive reception to the showing of The Healthcare Movie.

A multi-organization demonstration at a Toledo area Hobby Lobby store in wake of the recent SCOTUS decision to exempt small business from having to provide birth control provisions in their healthcare plans was held on July 4, 2014.   Organizations participating, in addition to SPAN Ohio, were Toledo Move to Amend, Toledo Jobs With Justice, NOW and the Green Party.   Collaborative opportunities like this will continue to arise going forward which will also provide SPAN Ohio more recognition.

Dayton activists held a well attended showing of the Healthcare Movie in celebration of Medicare's 49th birthday. 
Columbus area activists are embarking on a house party campaign to engage citizens in discussions on healthcare.  Bob Krasen will be holding the first house party in the near future.   All SPAN activists are encouraged to hold house parties and continue the discussion of the need for continued healthcare reform. 
Visit the new SPAN Ohio website here.  We think you'll find it much more inviting and easier to navigate.  

Health Care for All Ohioans, the educational arm of SPAN, has received 501(c)3 status from the IRS.   Healthcare for All Ohioans will take over the educational portion of the program, providing literature, talking with citizens to educate about the need for continued reform and providing research about the health care system.   Since Healthcare for All Ohioans is a 501(c)3 organization, contributions are tax deductible.   SPAN Ohio will focus on lobbying efforts and political action.

Upcoming Actions

October 15, 2014, 4:30 pm at the State Street Entrance to the Statehouse:   Moral Movement Ohio

October 25, 2014:   Region 3 Walk for Health in Athens.   Contact Arlene Sheak, Regional Coordinator for more information at 740-592-1879 or

State Council Meeting:  December 6, 2014 at 10:00 am.   Location is the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus, 93 West Weisheimer Road, Columbus.  All interested are welcome to attend.
Copyright © 2014 Single-Payer Action Network Ohio (SPAN Ohio), All rights reserved.

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