SPRING 2021 Newsletter

Coming events. Mark your calendar!


The Workforce, Labor and Single Payer Health Care
Saturday, April 24
10:00 via Zoom

When we transition from our current health care system to a universal, single payer system, what will that look like?   What effect will it have on jobs?   How will it affect labor unions and their ability to organize workers and provide for their members?   How will we protect those who currently work for health insurers and may be laid off as a result? 

There are many questions concerning this transition.  How can we make the transition the least disruptive as possible?

SPAN Ohio is pleased to offer a program on single payer healthcare, the workforce, and labor and hoping to answer those questions.  
Registration is required for the program.  You can register here

Click HERE for more details.


Walk for Health Care Justice
May 22

Single Payer Action Network Ohio ( is holding Walks for Healthcare Justice across the state on Saturday, May 22nd, and we are calling on all Ohioans to support healthcare for all by joining/supporting  one of the Walks in our statewide event.

Healthcare in Ohio and across the nation costs too much and commercial insurance covers too little for too few. Physicians, nurses, unions and churches have studied health reform and concluded that an improved expanded version of Medicare would be the best policy option to control costs and cover everyone with comprehensive benefits. There are bills pending in the US Congress and at the Ohio legislature based on this improved, expanded Medicare for all model. We are demanding state and national action to get everyone covered now.
Listed below are the walks that have been scheduled to date:

Cleveland:         May 22nd
                           10:00 AM - Meet at Kauffman Park in Lakewood. The main entrance
to the park is at the intersection of Arthur and Detroit Ave.
                            For more information, contact
Columbus:         May 22nd
                            Noon  -  Meet at North High Street and North Broadway in Columbus.
                            For more information, contact Bob Krasen, 614-261-0754,
Circleville: :       May 22nd
                            Noon - Meet at Court & Main, Circleville. For more information
                            contact Brad Cotton, 740-248-3402,
                            Cosponsored by Pickaway County Progressives.
Dayton:               May 22nd
                            Contact Matt Noordsij-Jones,

Cincinnati:         Contact Dee Chavez, 513-413-1178,

Toledo:               May 22nd
                            10:00 AM -Meet at parking lot of the Monroe Street Methodist Church.
                            For more information, contact John Ross,

Committee and Regional Reports
SPAN Lobby Committee
The newly formed Lobby Committee has been meeting since December 2020 to plan our approach to getting legislative support for the House bill 'The Ohio Health Care Act'.
In January we met with Representative Mike Skindell, District 13 (Cuyahoga Co.) who originally planned to introduce the bill in February but has not done so yet.
Members of the Lobby Committee sent many emails informing representatives of the bill, asking them to consider co-sponsoring it, and requesting in-district meetings to discuss the many benefits the bill would put in place, as well as the Economic Impact Study commissioned by SPAN in 2019.
To date there are 10 co-sponsors of 'The Ohio Health Care Act'. Seven of them have co-sponsored single payer bills previously. Three of them are new co-sponsors, Kent Smith, District 8 (Cuyahoga Co.), Joseph Miller, District 56 (Lorain Co.) and Richard Brown, District 20 (Franklin Co.).
At this time we don't know when a single payer bill will be introduced in the Ohio Senate.
We have focused our efforts primarily on Democrats as no Republicans have co-sponsored the single payer bills in the past. However we plan to meet in-district with all Representatives this year for the purpose of informing and educating on the need for a universal publicly funded health care financing system in Ohio.
Submitted by Dee Chavez,
Chair, SPAN Ohio Lobby Committee
We encourage you to read the Regional Reports below for opportunities to be active in your own neck of the woods..
Region 1 (Cleveland Area) Report
Region 1 continues our cooperation with CLASH (Cleveland Lead Activist for Safe Housing), the End Poverty Now coalition, Our Revolution, West Shore FaCT, CCPC (Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus), and the Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition. Collaborations and committees are essential to the movements in motion in Region 1. 
Saturday, April 10th is our next important partnered action. In our cooperation with the End Poverty Now Coalition, we will be partaking in a protest march at Noon on Cleveland’s Public Square protesting 4 different bills in the Ohio Legislature which will basically restrict public protest events by increasing fines and jail time for minor non-violent offenses, or for organizing an event where someone else commits a violation.   For more information, go to  We want as many of our people out there as possible.  
Likewise, we are following up with union contacts regarding the Saturday April 24th event. Pre-registration has been strong, but there is still time and space to attend the zoomed Program for Labor. Sign-up to learn about Unions and Healthcare.
The next “Walk for Health Care Justice” will be held in coordination with other SPAN regions.  Saturday, May 22, support for single payer healthcare will be visibly evident at respective locations, across the state. Region 1 will be meeting in Lakewood, where participants may choose to drive in their car with signs in their windows, if uncomfortable walking on sidewalks or in a group.
In addition, in consideration of the fact this is SPAN Ohio’s 20th year anniversary, the statewide goal is captured in the tag line “20 in 20”; meaning we want to raise at least $20,000 in this, our 20th year. Assuming the pandemic is in remission, we plan to gather October 30, 2021 at the Quest Center in Columbus, Ohio. The walk will help support the gala affair. Let’s hope conditions allow our safe gathering, indoors, by then.
Two new work committees were established.  First, a “Projects Committee” to consider and make recommendations for actionable items. The “Medicare for All” signs, now being planted in yards across the state was the first outcome of this committee.  Special thanks go to a new addition to our group, Thera Parks, whose graphic skills and determination were invaluable to the sign project.  Another new person, Julie Stout, is coordinating sign distribution in the Youngstown area.  Our region retained 50 signs and by early March, we have commitments for almost all of them.  More recently, an “Events Committee” formed to plan Walks for Healthcare Justice, and rallies.
Region 1 is also represented on the statewide Lobby Committee.  In conjunction with that, Dena and Alice volunteered to research those Dems in Columbus who are in our region and whom we can approach to cosponsor the next version of our bill that Michael Skindell introduces.  Turns out there are 10.
Stay safe and get your vaccinations.

Submitted by Ted Seuss & Bob Parker, Region 1
Region 2 (Toledo Area) Report
We have support from Toledo Jobs with Justice for our April Zoom conference on a Just Transition to single payer Medicare for all. They will help get the word out.

We have a commitment from several Toledo City Council members to pass a Medicare for all resolution. We already have the Lucas County Commission on record in support of Medicare for all.

We will be staging a Walk for Health Justice on May 22 with May 23 as a rain date.

We will be trying to arrange a meeting with Marcy Kaptur this month to ask her to support the Jayapal bill (HR 1976 - the Medicare for All Act of 2021) as a co-sponsor.

We will be reminding our state reps and senators about wanting support for our state bills.

Submitted by John Ross, Region 2
Region 4 (Cincinnati Area) Report

Region 4 will hold our next meeting on Wed., April 28th, 6:30PM. Contact Dee at to receive Zoom link for meeting.
Region 5 (Columbus Area) Report

Here are some things that have happened, are in progress, and planned.

The SPAN Ohio yard signs are "going fast. "After getting a shipment of about 200 signs by way of Thera Parks, Cleveland, there are only about 12 left. 50 were delivered to Tim Bruce in Dayton, and 70 to Dee Chavez in Cincinnati. Dr. Brad Cotton took 20 to Circleville; Arlene Sheak has 10, some of which will go to SE Ohio, Sandy Bolzenius has 10 for her properties in Columbus, Connie Hammond has 5 for friends; and the rest have gone one and two at a time. Good to know that Medicare for All and SPAN Ohio visibility is being "planted this Spring" in the State.

If you are in the Columbus Area, you can still get a yard sign. Contact Bob Krasen, 614-261-0754, or to make arrangements. When we run out, we hope to get more!

We are in the process of contacting labor unions about the SPAN Ohio web cast, the Workforce, Labor and Single Payer Health Care on Saturday, April 24th at 10:00 AM on ZOOM. Thanks to Kendall Mays, Cincinnati Area SPAN Ohio Region, for giving good contacts to union officers, at the State AFL-CIO office and Steel Workers office in Columbus. They and other unions have been contacted and received the flier for the event.  Kurt Bateman, who is back in town, also has received information for his labor contacts.

We have continued to try contacting Ohio House Democrats in Region 5 to cosponsor the Ohio Health Care Bill, soon to be introduced into the House by Representative Michael Skindell. SPAN Members held a ZOOM meeting with Mary LIghtbody, District 19, after which she became a cosponsor.

We had an excellent meeting with Allison Russo, Representative for District 24.  Alice Faryna, long time member of SPAN Ohio who lead the meeting, included other constituents from her District, Dr. Ann Boer, Dana Arthur, and Nancy Alonzo. Alice made the point, "The Pandemic has shown the complete inadequacy of employee based insurance. As people lost their jobs, they lost their insurance." Dee Chavez, chair of the lobby committee, made the point that "cosponsors are needed to show other Statehouse members that this is a bill to be taken seriously." Alice will get word to Mike Skindell that he should visit with Representative Russo to discuss being a cosponsor. 

We are concerned that Joyce Beatty, Congresswoman in Ohio District 3, has not cosponsored Medicare for All (M4A) of 2021, HR 1976. She had endorsed M4A, HR 1834 in the last term, and HB 676 before that. While we have no idea why she is not a cosponsor now, SPAN Ohio members in her District, her constituents, are being urged to call her, tell why they need and want M4A, and ask her to become a cosponsor again. If you are in U.S. House District 3, you are encouraged to call her Columbus Office, (614) 220-0003 or the Washington DC office, (202) 225-4324.

Arlene Sheak has begun to plan the SPAN Ohio Walk for Health Care Justice on Saturday, May 22nd. Discussions are underway for a route. The intersection to gather is going to be North High Street and North Broadway, in Columbus at Noon. We may walk North on North High Street, through the Farmer's Market, to the Whetstone Library, and return, but that as yet to be determined. More details will be available soon. Contact Arlene, or (740) 707-4924, if you are interested in helping with arrangements; would like to walk; and/or would like to sponsor a walker.

Submitted by Bob Krasen, Region 5 Coordinator
Region 7 (Miami Valley) Report
We held a zoom meeting March 28th to plan upcoming events in the Miami Valley area. Below are areas that we are currently working on.

Walk for Healthcare Justice in Dayton - We are planning on having a walk on May 22nd coinciding with other walks across the state. The details are still in the planning phases but we hope to walk in the Salem Avenue area of Dayton to bring more visibility to the many health disparities that plague our city. We are in the process of contacting other organizations and groups that may be interested in participating with us. More information will follow soon! 

Contacting local Ohio Representatives by telephone and email to encourage them to become co-sponsors of the soon to be introduced Ohio Healthcare Act.

Distributing signs and bumper stickers for the area. If anyone in the region would like a yard sign please contact NJ at

Contacting labor unions to bring more to our upcoming labor and single payer healthcare event

Contacting City and County Commissioners to encourage them to pass statements endorsing single payer healthcare.

Submitted by Matt Noordsij-Jones, Region 7 Coordinator
Note from the Editors:
The thread that binds together the stories in the articles we’ve included in this SPAN newsletter dangles down into the gaping holes in our so called ‘healthcare system’. Our need for Medicare for All has never been greater.
The holes are widening as Ohioan Brian Alexander reveals in his book The Hospital: Life, Death and Dollars in a Small American Town, here reviewed. Alexander reports that the barriers low-income workers face in accessing needed health care are exacerbated by their economic frailty in our new economy, while the healthcare industry continues to consolidate into ever bigger behemoths, driven by profit.
Our own Linda Brown writes about how disabled people are denied Medigap protection in Ohio.
Early in the COVID pandemic mass layoffs meant millions losing their health insurance.  Hospitals were forced to cancel lucrative elective procedures threatening their financial ruin as they attended to the crisis. In their opinion piece for CNN Business Perspectives, Abdul El-Sayed and Micah Johnson maintain that had Medicare for All been in place, all that would have been avoided.
And the threat of the privatization of current Medicare remains real as indicated by Jake Johnson in his article for Common Dreams.
A Healthcare Now article compares and contrasts our for-profit non-system with the single payer systems of Europe and outlines what it would take for us to transition to the Dutch or the German hybrid systems. Tinkering around the edges means “Medicare for Some: Neither Universal nor Sustainable”. It concludes “Medicare for All is the only path to universal care.”

All is not lost. The Medicare For All Act of 2021 was introduced March 17 with 112 co-sponsors in the US House.   Take a deeper dive into its support in Congress and way the public can exert pressure on their Congress people to move the bill forward.
Please examine these articles further, dear reader, to deepen your knowledge, as they have done ours.
Book Review

An Ohio hospital reveals all the ills of health care

By Jeff Rowe, AP NEWS  March 9, 2021

“The Hospital: Life, Death and Dollars in a Small American Town,” by Brian Alexander (St. Martin’s Press)

For the reader, it’s hard to avoid an abiding sense of sadness and shame that creeps in about halfway through “The Hospital: Life, Death and Dollars in a Small American Town,” when it becomes clear that a health care company’s insatiable drive for more money has overcome the high ideals of patient care, of ministering to people in their hours of greatest need.

As author Brian Alexander shows, the history of the hospital in Bryan, Ohio, parallels America’s struggle to come to some consensus on how to provide health care.

Again and again, Alexander finds people avoiding seeing doctors because they can’t pay for the service, skipping medications because they can’t afford them, struggling to overcome poor dietary habits and imprisoned in an economy of government aid and low-pay service jobs.

Meantime, consultants are talking to hospital administrators about “data analytics” and “profit centers.”

For Bryan, a town of about 8,500, the dragons gathered as long-time CEO Phil Ennen, a native son, tries to keep the town hospital independent.

But the arithmetic is relentless.

Hospital services’ charges rose 200% from 1998 through mid-2019, nearly four times the rate of inflation. The bigger hospital chains offer higher pay because they have maximized their ability to get the greatest return on every procedure and supply used.

Moreover, when they need medical care, the people of Bryan and elsewhere in America enter an industry of almost numbing complexity.

As Alexander notes, the CT scan that might cost $1,400 at the Bryan hospital could cost $4,000 in nearby Fort Wayne but even the lower price is higher than that charged in America’s peer countries.

A month’s supply of a cholesterol drug that costs $217 at Walmart can be obtained for $17 at another pharmacy.

Alexander spent almost two years researching and reporting this book. He was given complete access to meetings at the hospital, where financial topics dominated. He reviewed 3,100 documents and interviewed so many people that a spreadsheet would be helpful to keep track of all the characters.

Alexander hopes his book will show the cruel gulfs in American health care – how the financially secure can get the best health care while the tens of millions of lower-income people lack health care, get little-to-no preventative care, self-ration their medicines and die young.

For the millions of low-income Americans lucky enough to have a health care plan, the deductible often is a mountain too high to climb. They stop going to the doctor, until it is too late.

No Medigap Protection Available to Disabled in Ohio
Ohio is one of four states with no provision for Medigap (Medicare Supplement) plans for disabled individuals, under age 65, eligible for Medicare (Norris, April 2020). Medigap policies help protect against catastrophic medical expenses. Since there is no annual out-of-pocket spending limit on Original Medicare, it is important to obtain this protection against financial ruin, especially if you also need the open access to doctors, specialists, and care centers available under Original Medicare. Medigap assists with deductibles and cost-sharing requirements. It also opens doors to broader care options. Since 16% of the 2.4 million Medicare enrollees in the State of Ohio are under the age of 65 (Norris, Oct 2020), an estimated 380,000 disabled persons are denied this option.
A 1990 federal law enables people age 65 and older to purchase a Medigap policy, but does not grant the same right to younger Medicare beneficiaries with disabilities. In effect, the law created a gap in Medigap. States can take action to close the gap.  

The exclusion of younger adults with disabilities may have strategically been intended to keep the cost of premiums lower. Drug costs tend to be higher for people under 65 with disabilities, and when the 1990 law took effect, many Medigap policies covered some prescription drug costs (Neuman and Cubanski, 2016). The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, created Medicare Part D, to provide prescription drug coverage for Medicare beneficiaries who do not have an employer-plan, Medicaid or other source of prescription coverage. Thus, high drug costs are no longer a valid reason for excluding disabled adults. 
A major advantage of Original Medicare is expanded access to providers and facilities. The Advantages plans that younger disabled Medicare enrollees are shuttled into restrict provider networks to control costs. This leaves some of the sickest, neediest without access to the specialists or alternatives available to Medicare seniors who are able to utilize Medigap.

Put an end to discrimination. Improved and expanded Medicare for All (HR 1976) would provide open-access coverage to all patients in all states.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?  CONTRIBUTE TO SPAN with stories of your own Medigap experiences. Positive or Negative. Enter your input on health care reform initiatives at: Share your Story

By Linda Brown, SPAN Ohio, Cleveland
Medicare for All would have ensured the US had a better pandemic response

Opinion by Abdul El-Sayed and Micah Johnson for CNN Business Perspectives

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed is a physician, epidemiologist and former health director for the City of Detroit. Dr. Micah Johnson is a resident physician at Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. They are co-authors of "Medicare for All: A Citizen's Guide." The opinions expressed in this commentary are their own.

.  .  .  America's health care system is the most expensive in the world, accounting for nearly 18% of overall gross domestic product. It is also a business, which means that hospitals have to remain profitable to remain open, always conscious of the bottom line. Elective procedures offered to privately insured patients are one of the most important revenue streams in American health care. When hospitals were forced to cancel these elective procedures early in the pandemic, they were left without that revenue, battling Covid-19 and bankruptcy at the same time.

Had a universal health care plan been in place, hospitals wouldn't have been so financially ruined because they'd be getting paid fairly for treating all patients. They wouldn't have had to rely so heavily on privately insured patients getting pricey elective procedures. President Biden's plan to expand the ACA would not solve this problem because it would keep some Americans on private insurance and other Americans on Medicare and Medicaid, meaning that doctors and hospitals would continue to get paid more for treating privately insured patients and therefore keeping the incentive for healthcare providers to cater to them disproportionately.  .  .  .
And because about 150 million Americans are insured through their employers, an economic downturn that spikes job losses (like the one that hit last spring) usually leads to millions of people being kicked off their health insurance.  . .  . With a universal health care program like Medicare for All, health insurance would be a right instead of a job perk, and no one would have lost their insurance in the middle of the pandemic.
.  .  .  because there are hundreds of health insurers in the United States and plenty of people jump between insurers, no one insurer has an incentive to invest in preventing disease. .  .  .But under Medicare for All, the federal government would insure Americans yesterday, today and tomorrow, so there is plenty of incentive for government to invest in public health and prevention infrastructure — the kind of infrastructure so critical in executing mass vaccination campaigns. These long-term incentives simply aren't there under the ACA, with hundreds of competing insurance companies jockeying for enrollees and profits.
Read full article here.
Advocates Sound Alarm Over Quiet Trump Era Move That Could Further Privatize Medicare
"The Biden administration should immediately kill this toxic legacy of the former president."

Jake Johnson, Common Dreams

The Geographic Direct Contracting Model (Geo), a scheme, unveiled on December 3rd, by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) – then under the leadership of Seema Verma- could completely privatize Medicare, eliminating the higher quality options currently available in traditional Medicare. The innocuous-sounding proposal purports to deliver "Medicare beneficiaries’ value through better care and improved quality." However, Center for Health Journalism reporter and editor Trudy Lieberman discloses it could "take root and potentially turn every senior into a customer of a privately-run managed care organization."

The experiment is set to begin January 2022, unless the Biden administration halts it before millions of older and disabled Americans lose their right to choose traditional Medicare,   As Diane Archer of Just Care USA said, Medicare Advantage "enrollees have less access to high quality hospitals and nursing homes than people in traditional Medicare and are subject to widespread and inappropriate delays and denials of care."  Although it would upend the health insurance for millions of Americans, the proposed change has generated almost no media coverage.

Read the full article here.
Medicare for All: The only path to universal care
This article compares health care in the US to healthcare in 35 countries in Europe.  Question:  only one of the 35 countries in the European Union allows for-profit insurers to provide primary health coverage.

Can you guess which one?  Find the answer at:
The Medicare For All Act of 2021: An Epic Introduction of H.R. 1976

The Medicare for All Act of 2021 was introduced to the House of Representatives on March 17, 2021. In the 117th Congress (2021-2022) it is recorded as “H.R.1976 To establish an Improved Medicare for All national health insurance program”.  More than half the Democratic caucus argue that the need for this legislation has never been greater.   

Prior to 2019, Medicare for All proposals were merely resolutions; brief 17-page declarations of intent. The bill introduced in 2019, was 140-plus pages detailing how the program would actually work.  During that 116th Congressional session, hearings were held in key committees on the legislation for the very first time. Powerful testimonies were given by individuals--such as, Adi Barkan, a lawyer and activist; and Don Berwick, a former Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services-- advancing the case for Medical for All.  
Building on momentum, HR 1976 is expected to gain support. To pass by simple majority requires 218 votes (of 435) in the house, before moving on to the Senate.  Upon its introduction HR 1976 had 112 sponsors; an additional 106 supporters are needed. Over 25% (29) of the co-sponsors are representatives from California; over 12% (14) are from New York. The near-by states of Illinois (6), Michigan (5), and Pennsylvania (4) each bring around 4% to 5% of the current co-sponsors. Massachusetts (5), Texas (5), and Florida (4) contribute similarly. In total, thirty-one states are signed onto the bill, with at least on representative; as well as the District of Columbia, and one U.S. territory. Find the complete run-down of sponsors at  

Ohio has sixteen members in the House of Representatives, serving until the present Congress ends on January 3, 2023. In the House, Ohio is represented by three Democrats and twelve Republicans. Currently, one seat – the 11th Congressional District representing Cleveland and the Cuyahoga River Valley— is vacant. No representatives from Ohio signed on as a cosponsor of HR 1976.

Previously, two Ohio members of Congress did cosponsor Medicare for All (H.R. 1384). Contact  Joyce Beatty (OH-03) 614-220-0003  ;and Tim Ryan (OH-13) 330-373-0074  regarding their change in position, and your stance on the new legislation. SPAN Ohio advocates for sponsorship of the new bill.

Write, call, or email your representative  ( Schedule a meeting with the congressperson or a health policy staffer, prepared to state your position and provide helpful information on the issue. For instance, share that once it is enacted,  the transition to a Medicare for All system is designed to take place over a two-year period, imparting minimal disruption, and vast improvements. Build support at the local level too, winning the endorsement of influencers, organizations, and local governments. Grassroots activism is critical for the success of this life-altering, world-changing, epic, legislation. Medicare for All is a heroic cause. 

ACCESS information on the sponsors, co-sponsors, endorsing organizations, and a link to the full text of the legislation at

MONITOR progress of the legislation, and sign-up to receive ALERTS on the bill, at

EXAMINE the legislative strategy of Sponsor Rep. Pramila Jayapal [D-WA-7] further, in the transcript of her interview, What’s the Path Forward for Medicare for All, published by Deconstructed, on Intercept: 

VIEW the TOWN HALL celebration of the historic event, hosted by HealthcareNOW, at:  Also available through YouTube at:

By Linda Brown, SPAN Ohio, Cleveland

8” x 24“

We are asking for a donation of $5 to $15 for individual signs. 
At this point we are not mailing out signs.   If you would like a Medicare for All Lawn Sign, please contact the person closest to you.

Cincinnati:  Dee Chavez   (513-413-1178)

Cleveland:  Thera Parks,    (440) 787-6517

Columbus:   Bob Krasen   (614-261-0754)

Dayton:    Matt Noordsij-Jones  (937-321-8698)

Medina:  Kristin Kranz  (330-635-6435)

Niles:  Julie Stout  (330-957-1490)    julieannstout@gmail.

Toledo:  John Ross

ALSO AVAILABLE - Bumper Stickers
If you are interested in obtaining one or more bumper stickers, contact Kendall Mays at 
SPAN Ohio links

To send articles, events, letters, or comments to this newsletter, please email them to the Communications Committee (Lynne Rustad, Tim Bruce, Matt Noordsij-Jones, Linda Brown, Barb Walden, and Bob Parker [Chair])

This newsletter is posted under Resources on the SPAN Web Site.
Web site: SPAN Ohio
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SPAN Ohio is a 501(c)4 non-profit organization.
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