Working to pass the Health Care for All Ohioans Act
What is the Senate up to?
We are getting conflicting information concerning action in the US Senate on the American Health Care Act, that piece of disgusting legislation passed by the House last month. We've heard that Mitch McConnell has fast tracked the bill to bring it to a vote before CBO scoring and hearings. We've also been told that the Senate doesn't want to do anything until after the 2018 elections because they don't want to risk losing seats. Both scenarios are possible, so it won't hurt to give our senators a call.
Besides resisting “Trumpcare,” our Senators need to articulate a strong vision for health care justice. Tell them you expect them to support Expanded and Improved Medicare for All. The status quo is insufficient and we need to act on this now.
Both websites are reporting a heavy volume of phone calls, but don't let that deter you! Keep them busy!
State Conference a Huge Success
The 14th annual state conference was a huge success. We almost exceeded the occupancy permit for the conference space! Presenters were wonderful. We heard from Greg Coleridge, Brad Cotton, Ruben Castilla Herrera, Dan Skinner, Sean Nestor and John Ross. Topics ranged from the Social Determinants of Health to the plight of the immigrant to effective messaging. View some of the action on YouTube.
Thank you to Vann Seawell, but not goodbye....
Vann Seawell stepped down as Secretary of SPAN after serving for many, many years. While we will miss his minutes, we had better not miss Vann. We expect that Vann will be around, helping in the Columbus area with local organizing.
Dr. Johnathon Ross was elected Secretary to fill Vann's position. He is a past president of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), a national health reform group with over 18,000 members. He is a graduate of Cornell University and received his medical degree in 1975 from the Medical College of Ohio at Toledo. In addition to his medical degree, he has a master’s degree in health policy and administration from the School of Public Health of the University of Michigan. He is an Associate Clinical Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Toledo College of Medicine and currently practices and teaches general internal medicine at St Vincent Mercy Medical Center, a 500-bed center city teaching hospital in Toledo, Ohio. His experience inside the health insurance industry convinced him of the logic and need for a national health insurance program.
Debbie Silverstein continues as State Director and Barbara Walden continues as Treasurer.
Most of our regional coordinators were re-elected to their positions, but we do have a couple of new leaders to introduce.
Patty Mercer took over the helm from Arlene Sheak in Region 3 last February when Arlene moved to Columbus. She was born and raised in McArthur, Ohio (Vinton County) and attended college at Case Western Reserve University, Ohio University and Ohio State University (And for what it is worth, earned a BA and MA in economics, MSW, respectively).
Patty worked in social services and was always interested in social justice. She is a RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer - Sri Lanka, 1986-87) and recently retired from the role of director of The Athens Village, a virtual village providing wrap around services for members over the age of 60 who want to stay in their own homes.
She is happiest when gardening, singing, reading medieval mysteries, having friends over for dinner, visiting family/in-laws in Israel and talking with like-minded souls who are eager to figure out ways to make the world a better place, one relationship at a time.
Bob Krasen is the new regional coordinator for Region 5. Bob was a Catholic priest for 17 years in 4 parishes in the Diocese of Cleveland, an occupation which helped him develop a social conscience. He worked in social services in Columbus until retirement 2006, when he became an activist for "health care for all" in SPAN Ohio.
Two vacancies on our Executive Committee were filled by SPAN veteran Bill Davis and newcomer Mayo Makinde. Check them out on our website.
Is it the right time?
One of my pet peeves is when people say they support us and then follow up with, "but it won't happen in my lifetime," or "but it just isn't the right time for it." Why do we accept defeat so easily?
It IS the right time. Martin Luther King said it is always the right time to do the right thing.
Our favorite Dayton author, Gerard McLean, tells us why patience may not always be a virtue.....
“Wait your turn,” they say at every turn.
“Your house may be expensive now, but when you find yourself in mid-life, it will be less so,” they say when they sell you the house. “You’ll be earning more, you’ll have paid down the mortgage and it will be yours.” Only they never tell you your taxes and insurance will eclipse your principal payments by twice. You wouldn’t have heard it anyway through the excitement of a new home, some place you can shape into your own.
They never tell you the expenses to repair the sidewalk and replace the main sewer line will be over ten percent of your house value. They never tell you the debt you go into for the repairs will never really be paid off before some other major repair is due. They never say the county will take your entire house if you miss a property tax payment that is equal to a couple mortgage payments. They never tell you they will divide up your mortgage into derivatives without your permission — except for the fine print on page 462— and sell them as junk bonds on the stock market, crashing the economy, absconding with the cash and dragging the value of your house with it.
“Patience,” they say.
“Give us time to improve the ACA to include you in the Middle,” they say. “Be there for us today to take care of the young and the poor…and trust that we will take care of you later.” Only tomorrow never comes… a new president is whisked into office and the promises evaporate like a fart in the wind. The premiums skyrocket to twice your housing costs and three times your mortgage. Your health insurance premium is now your largest single monthly expense and it doesn’t even buy an hour of actual health care.
Gerard McLean is an author and essayist who lives in Dayton, Ohio. He is the author of Letters to Hillary, a collection of 100 letters written to Hillary Clinton to educate her on the need for single payer Medicare For All healthcare.
From Around the State
More than 20 activists gathered together on May 7th, just after the House of Representatives speedily but barely passed the America Health Care Act. These frustrated and determined citizens had a chance to express their feelings and stories. Then they heard first-hand about the single-payer health care ideas from State Director Deb Silverstein and Executive Committee member Sean Nestor.
Attendees signed letters to Senator Portman, enrolled in SPAN mailing list. Several people gave written accounts of their experiences with health insurance as testimony to be compiled in a growing list of citizen comments.
June 3, Many SPAN supporters teamed up with Move to Amend, Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie, Lucas County Green Party, Jobs with Justice and Our Revolution.
This kind of alliance-building is becoming an effective tool for increasing participation at events, building a pool of signature gatherers, and finding common goals and actions. We are, after all, an ACTION NETWORK, and Toledo seems to be living up to the name.
Tabling at the Old West End was also done in collaboration with these groups, allowing the house-tour pedestrians to stop a while, sign many petitions and letters, and feel good about participating in their democracy.
SPAN members went to Senator Portman's office and talked at length to his outreach person, and turned over a pile of letters signed by supporters. There were lots of other people who showed up for a rally outside and then went into Portman’s office 10 at a time.
Don, Dick, and Dee have continued to do speaking engagements, as well as a few movie showings and report that the number of local activists is growing.
We want to have a health care system with EVERYBODY IN! To do this we need EVERYBODY IN SPAN Ohio — as a member, that is!
A regular annual membership in SPAN-Ohio costs a mere 11 cents a day ($40). A Senior (age 65) or student membership is half that ($20). Membership brings the right to vote on SPAN officers and policies, a $10 discount off the cost of SPAN’s annual convention, and the satisfaction that comes from helping the cause. SPAN can’t be effective without support, and if there was any time in U.S. history that we have a chance to move the country to a more just system of health care — this is it!!
So, Now’s The Time! You can join by going to the website www.spanohio.org and clicking on Individual Membership (under Become a Member). You can either print out a form and mail it in with a check or pay online through PayPal. Follow our efforts through the website; like us on Facebook; get involved at rallies and lobby days and other events.
SPAN exists due to the generosity of individual donors.
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SPAN Ohio is a 501(c)4 non-profit organization. Donations to SPAN Ohio are not tax deductible.