Winter 2020-2021 Newsletter

Coming events. Mark your calendar!



JANUARY 23-24, 2021

Register here:

See last page for more about this conference.

Saturday April 24:  SPAN Zoom meeting on Labor and Single Payer
We will present, via Zoom, a program concerning union support in the United States, benefits to unions in Canada as well as business, and what a Just Transition from our profit first health care system to Medicare for All would look like.
Speakers include Katherine Isaacs, speaking on a Just Transition, and Mark Dudzik, Executive Director of the Labor Campaign for Single Payer.  We are also in the process of inviting Canadian labor leaders to join us and give their perspective.   Registration information will be sent later.


Saturday, Oct 30:  SPAN State Conference at Quest Center in Columbus
SPAN Ohio will be celebrating 20 years of activism this fall.   We will plan an all out gathering, hopefully in person, for this fall.  We have reserved Quest Business and Conference Center in Columbus.  The Conference and Program committee is working on preparing a program for this event and we will be sending more information closer to the date.  Do plan to attend and celebrate with us.
Regional Reports
Region 1 - Northeast Ohio
There was a strong turnout of demonstrators for the Medicare for All (M4A) Rally held at Windermere Rapid Station in East Cleveland on October 17 with our partners Our Revolution, the Cuyahoga County Progressive Coalition, the Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition, and West Shore FaCT (Faith Communities Together). The November 15 M4A Rally planned for a park in Lakewood was cancelled due to inclement weather. Instead, a web broadcast was rapidly organized and held November 29; the SPARK Conversation.

Medicare 4 All Proponents SPARK Conversation
SPAN Ohio, Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus, Our Revolution, and West Shore FaCT presented a forum on the topic of Healthcare Justice and Medicare for All. Fifty people participated via Zoom on November 29, 2020.

First, Kristin Kranz, M.D., a family-practice physician, made a compelling call to reform the health industry, based on her frontline observation of patient needs. Next, Yvonka Hall, Executive Director of the Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition, broadened the conversation to systemic injustices, expressing increasing concern over inequalities in education, housing, employment, and health services.

Mike Skindell, State Representative of House District 13, rounded out the program, speaking with a legislative perspective. He summarized the history of health care reform; shared personal connections to the issue; and described differences between socialized and single-payer healthcare.  As the sponsor of HB 292, the Ohio Health Care Plan, Sen Skindell provided an update on the status of the bill and how we all can support it.

The forty-five-minute program closed with questions from the audience. SPARK forums are held Sunday mornings at West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church, rotating topics between poetry, pastoral care, philosophy, and social justice. Special thanks are extended to Steve Holecko, Diane Morgan, and Linda New for enlisting three engaging speakers for the program, held on Thanksgiving weekend.


Monthly business meetings and a holiday social were all hosted on Zoom during the last quarter of 2020.

Next Region 1 SPAN virtual meeting: Monday, January 25, 2021, 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM   (If you are interested in attending, please contact to receive log-in information.)

Submitted by Linda Brown, SPAN Ohio, Cleveland
Region 2 - Northwest Ohio
Dr. John Ross and Dennis Slotnick have generated an action for members to easily participate in a widespread message about how Covid thrives in this profit-first Health Care system.  The research is plain and obvious.  The message is clearly to reveal that if health care decisions are made based on profit and bottom line,  hospitals close, doctors’ offices close, nurses are laid off, tests are expensive and unavailable and COVID-19 really flourishes when people can’t get help, go to work sick and can’t afford the costs.
The campaign is on an aggressive schedule to move federal and state legislature this spring, to enact relief from this oppressive disease and relief from the oppressive for-profit Health care system. Dennis Slotnick says, "Once we carefully look at the research, it becomes obvious that we cannot hope to manage the COVID-19 Virus without replacing the current health system with a single payer system.  .  .  .  This disease thrives best when we  close hospitals, overwork and under protect health care staff, charge money for tests, have financial loss for staying home when sick and a population of 30 million ++ without insurance." 
Medicare for All would fix this aspect of the problem immediately with service based on needs first, fully staff, free and available testing, sick leave, and insure everyone for every medical need.

For more information, contact Dennis Slotnick at

Submitted by Dennis Slotnick, Coordinator Region 2
Also see Region 5 report.

Region 4 - SW Ohio (Cincinnati area)
In the spring and summer of 2020 in collaboration with Our Revolution, we had 7 weekly outdoor rallies on a prominent corner of Cincinnati on Rt. 42 to advocate for healthcare and justice reforms. There was lots of good response from many who passed by!
To cap that off we held an outdoor rally on Sept. 20th, 2020 that featured two of our local state representatives running for re-election, Sedrick Denson and Cathy Ingram, who both sponsored HB 292.
There were many other candidates running for office as well as leaders of groups advocating for healthcare and social justice, including The Poor People's Campaign.
In March 2020 (just prior to shutdown) I met for the first time with state representative Sarah Carruthers, who was interested and had read all the material I had given her including the whole financial study! She was re-elected in November. In May 2020, Maryann Kokenge, a nurse practitioner, and myself met with state representative George Lang, who keeps listening to us. He was elected to the Ohio senate in November. We reached out to several other reps who did not respond or refused to meet with us. We'll keep trying in 2021!
We had a joint meeting with PNHP on November 11th, 2020, to discuss election outcomes and ideas to proceed with in the next congress both nationally and statewide.
We continue to attract new members. We will continue to have monthly Region 4 meetings.

Next Region 4 SPAN virtual meeting:  Wednesday, January 27, at 6:30 PM   (If you are interested in attending, please contact and put in the header of email 'SPAN meeting'.)

Submitted by Dee Chavez, Coordinator Region 4
(Dee is a district coordinator in NNU [National Nurses Union] 1384 campaign -- to get Congressional Representatives to sign on to Medicare for All.  For more information, contact her at the above email address)
Region 5 - Central Ohio (Columbus area)

Region 5 met by ZOOM on Wednesday, Dec. 16th. twelve SPAN Ohio members were present, and one guest.

Each of us shared a brief story of a contact we had with someone about Medicare for All. While COVID-19 has prevented contacts, people shared a variety of forums and meetings in which discussion about Medicare for All went on.

We had a presentation from Dennis Slotnick, SPAN Ohio Region 2 Coordinator, about how "all fingers should be pointed at the 'money driven health care system in the USA' for the exponential its failure during the COVID-19 crisis. Notorious examples were given: 1) Hospitals  and primary care offices closing for lack of funds; 2) Nurses and health care providers being laid off; 3) Health care providers being infected and dying; 4) Minorities with less care, greater exposure, close working conditions leading to 33% higher infection rate; 5) inadequate PPE and bed availabilities in hospitals; 6)  unemployed become uninsured and avoid testing and treatment; 7) financial barriers to treatment are increased during recession, as people are afraid of copays and deductibles. And more...

Slotnick is proposing that SPAN and all supporters of Medicare for All take action, doing the following:
  1. Build a concise, accurate and comprehensive message on how the profit-first Health Care model has made the COVID-19 in the USA worse. 
  2. Dispense and communicate the message widely to all senators, representatives, all organizations, physicians, nurses, local elected officials, and all media outlets. 
  3. Assure that the local and national leaders understand that Covid-19 is flourishing in the USA largely because of the profit-first health care system and Medicare for All is necessary to be able to contain this crisis.
  4. Generate an action timetable to immediately implement executive actions and passage of Expanded and Improved Medicare for All.
A guest pointed out that we should have "personal medical billing horror stories" connected to each of these narratives.

The focus of this effort is to have many individuals and groups release this at the same time, before the inauguration if possible, so that the "health care power brokers" will be caught off guard.

A long discussion ensued, and an attempt to help in this endeavor was accepted by some of the participants.

The meeting concluded with a toast to health and being able to meet in person in the New Year.

Submitted by Bob Krasen, Coordinator Region 5
Medina County! 
Join the Medina County Justice Coalition

#JusticeForAll #MCJC is a non-partisan, inclusive coalition working for all issues of justice Working for PEOPLE and POLICIES not party nor politics Goals: Educate, Solidarity, Mutual Aid. Please join us as we work together to create more unity and strength behind the issues and needs or our community and world. Many are already doing the work!! Many are being left out or ignored. Many don’t know how to contribute! This will be a place to join forces and make substantive progress.

There will be a HEALTHCARE subgroup headed by Kristin Kranz, MD, a local family physician.

Can you join me and take action? Click here

Submitted by Kristin Kranz
Skindell Awarded the Smiddie
The Bob Smiddie Healthcare Justice Award was established in 2011, to honor an outstanding healthcare activist or group of activists selected by the SPAN Ohio State Council from those nominated by peers.
The annual award honors the memory of Bob Smiddie, a “leading light in the Ohio Single Payer Action Network for over ten years.” Mike Skindell was selected as the 2020 recipient.
Michael J. (Mike) Skindell is the state representative for the 13th district of the Ohio House of Representatives. He has introduced a single-payer bill to the Ohio Legislature nine times: five into the House (2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2019) and four into the Senate (2011, 2013, 2015, 2017).    A new version of the bill will be introduced in 2021. 

Traditionally, the award is presented at the Annual State Conference held in April, however—due to the pandemic—the program transitioned to an online series. Hence, our 2020 recipient has not yet received the engraved plague, but that's okay. There will be opportunities in 2021 to deliver the coveted trophy in-person, as SPAN Ohio continues working with legislators in the new year. In light of current needs, the outlook for advancing universal healthcare in 2021 is hopeful. The need and possibilities could not be greater.

During his public service career, Mike has received numerous awards, including the 2007 Legislative Champion of Children Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics and Voices for Ohio Children; and a Special Award of Recognition from the Ohio Primary Care Association for his advocacy for Ohio's community health centers. SPAN Ohio is honored that Skindell has accepted our award, and has been a strong supporter of Healthcare as a Human Right. 
Submitted by Linda Brown, SPAN Ohio, Cleveland
Recommended Reading
Book Review by Alice Faryna, SPAN Ohio, Columbus
Which Country Has the Best Health Care System  
By Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, PhD

Emanuel clearly favors a multiple-payer system over a single payer system, in spite of listing Canada, Taiwan and the UK as highly performing in most dimensions. Perhaps he considers increased wait times as a major flaw. His conclusions are contradictory. First, he recommends auto-enrollment of every currently uninsured resident in Medicaid initially. Then he recommends consolidating Medicare, Medicaid, and the ACA exchanges into one entity.

These measures defy his call for simplicity and reducing administrative costs. His warning that entrenched and financially powerful interests make overturning current private systems unlikely to succeed is a warning we should heed. But there is no mention of gradually reducing the eligibility age for Medicare, which would get a lot of public support and is simpler than his proposals.

The book provides a useful window on how the US compares with countries that have achieved universal coverage. I do not think his conclusions are always supported by his own data. Since Dr. Emanuel will serve on Biden’s Covid advisory panel, we need to be familiar with his views on health care policy.

For the full review, click here.
Opinion by SPAN Ohio Contributors
Embedded in the Affordable Care Act
By Arlene Sheak
In making laws, precedence is very significant.  That is why some legislation embedded in the Affordable Care Act of March 23, 2010, could be very important.   Senator Max Baucus, of Montana, was in charge of the hearings for the enactment of the ACA.
The whole town of Libby had been poisoned by asbestos; 400 people had died and hundreds of other citizens were ill.  So, the same Senator Baucus, who would not permit testimony for improved universal single payer health care in his committee hearings (arresting doctors trying to speak ), had it written into the ACA that all citizens in Lincoln County, Montana, who were afflicted by asbestos sickness, even under age 65, could receive Medicare—and possibly without co-pays or deductibles.  This was done because of an “environmental hazard,” asbestos.  The mining companies knew it but never gave out this information or took any responsibility until sued.
At  it states:   (Amendment 1881 to SSA by ACA)
Medicare Coverage for Individuals Exposed to Asbestos in Lincoln County, Montana
The Affordable Care Act provides certain individuals who were exposed to asbestos in Lincoln County, Montana:
  • Free Medicare hospital insurance (Part A); 
  • The ability to enroll in the Medicare medical insurance (Part B) and prescription drug coverage (Part D) program for a monthly premium; and 
  • Depending on your family’s income, additional assistance through the Medicare Savings Program with your state.
To receive this Medicare coverage, you must have been:
  • Diagnosed with an asbestos related disease; and 
  • Present in Lincoln County, Montana for a total of at least six months during a period ending ten years or more before the diagnosis.
To qualify, you do not need to be age 65 or receive disability benefits. There is no waiting period, and you do not need to have worked and paid into Social Security or Medicare.
See How Libby, Montana, Got Medicare for All, by Kay Tillow.
With this precedence of a federal response to an environmental hazard, I think that anyone diagnosed with Covid-19 should have the same eligibility.
The Establishment Is Gearing Up Against Even a Public Option
By David Sirota/Andrew Perez

Tax records we've reviewed show a health care industry front group run by a former Hillary Clinton aide has already amassed millions to block a public health insurance option. Even small reform isn't possible without confronting powerful interests.
The health care industry coalition that aired television ads vilifying Medicare for All during the presidential campaign is gearing up to block a promised public health insurance option — and is already calling on President-elect Joe Biden’s top health nominee to focus on fortifying the current private insurance–based health insurance system, despite his longtime support for Medicare for All.
For full Jacobin Magazine article, click here. 
'Seems Like a Good Policy!' CBO Shows Medicare for All Could Cover Everyone for $650 Billion Less Per Year
The analysis shows that administrative costs under a single-payer healthcare system "will be lower than what even the most rabid Medicare for All supporters have traditionally claimed."

The Congressional Budget Office on Thursday released a report examining the costs associated with universal healthcare proposals that are based on Medicare's fee-for-service program and found that implementing a single-payer health insurance program in the United States would not only guarantee coverage for every person in the country but would also reduce overall healthcare spending nationwide.

In the words of researcher Matt Bruenig—founder and president of the progressive think tank People's Policy Project who called the CBO's working paper (pdf) on the topic "more exhaustive than any other recent study on the subject"—the new analysis shows that administrative costs under a single-payer healthcare system "will be lower than what even the most rabid Medicare for All supporters have traditionally claimed."
For full Common Dreams article, click here. 
Biden Ran on a Return To Normalcy, but There’s Nothing Normal About the American Health Care System
By Jonathan B. Kotch, M.D., M.P.H. and Jonathan Michels
In poll after poll, Americans have indicated their preference for a universal, single-payer health care system. Compromise and half-measures are not acceptable. Medicare for All remains the goal.
.  .  .  For health care reform advocates who want to purge profiteering from health care, returning to “normal” is not an option.

More than 10 years after the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA),87 million Americans remain uninsured or underinsured. The ACA has not changed the fact that medical bills continue to push millions of people into personal bankruptcy, with Americans having borrowed a stunning $88 billion to pay for medical treatment in 2018 alone. Nor has the ACA halted the inexorable increase in premiums, deductibles and copayments that are blocking access to care for millions of workers and their families who have employer-based group health insurance that is too expensive to use. 
.  .  .
The public option is destined to fail as long as private health insurers are allowed to thrive. They will find new and increasingly sophisticated ways to undermine public insurance by cherry-picking the healthiest subscribers for themselves and shunting the more expensive, chronically ill patients to public insurance, compromising the potential savings that universal public financing of health care would yield.  .  .  .
For full Common Dreams article, click here.   

More on the Healthcare-NOW! national strategy conference
By Stephanie Nakajima,  Healthcare-NOW

So what’s next? The fight to eliminate the private health insurance industry and bring 1/5 of the economy under public control will come up against the most well-funded opposition of any reform in this country’s history. Simply unprecedented in scale.
If we can do this, we can do anything. And we sure as hell believe we can and we will. But it’s gonna require a mass movement that can match what industry will throw at us. Not just on Twitter, but in a critical mass of congressional districts.
We need a grassroots movement that's big enough and organized enough to counter the endless pharma and insurer cash to legislators and the millions they are already spending on lies about M4A.

That means bringing in more people from across the US who are willing to organize their communities and legislators in a truly mass movement that extends into the midwest and the south. That brings together real coalitions of working class people from labor and the community.

We’ve picked off a lot of the low hanging fruit; 2021 will be the time to organize in districts and communities that haven’t yet been seriously invested in. This is a theme of our upcoming 2021 Medicare for All Strategy Conference.

There are, unfortunately, no shortcuts to Medicare for All. As unglamorous and often unseen as it is, the work we do at Healthcare-NOW - supporting local groups in organizing, base-building, leadership development, and strategic direction - is the grind that's going to get us there. 

You can be a part of that grind! Once the new year starts and Congress returns, we're going to need your help pressuring legislators to cosponsor the new Medicare for All bills in the House and Senate. Stay tuned for that action - and in the meantime, please help spread the word by sharing on Facebook and Twitter so we can continue growing the movement that will pass Medicare for All! 

Register for the upcoming Healthcare-NOW! national strategy conference:
2021 Medicare for All Conference – Healthcare-NOW!
SPAN Ohio links

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

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