Report on Leadership and Healthcare-Now Strategy Conference, Nov. 12-14, 2010

November 27, 2010

Submitted by Rebecca Elgie

Leadership Conference Meeting – Friday, Nov. 12
The Leadership Conference was designed to bring representatives from various Single Payer groups together, to share ideas and bring people up to date on various campaigns and strategies. It was great to have so many people together who are leading activists in this movement. I felt there was a healthy discussion of the 2 parts of the movement representing National and State work on this topic. The bulk of the time was used for presentations and sharing of information, I hope there will be the ongoing discussion by the groups on strategies and ways we can work together to strengthen the movement. The conveners will continue with this conversation.

Financing HR676 – Friday evening
A small group had a discussion of the financing of HR676 – it will be reintroduced in January and the sponsors of it would like a model financing system to be available for advocates of the bill as well as for CBO scoring. For the Win Win campaign we use a 4.5% employer payroll tax and 3.3 employee payroll tax but many have been uncomfortable with this so they have been using a 4.5-9% range (currently employers spend about 16%) – a group will continue to work on this issue.

Healthcare-Now Board Meeting – Saturday morning, Nov. 13th

Healthcare-Now as an organization began in 2004 and grew out of a smaller organization which Marilyn Clement started. It is governed by a steering committee of 8 people and a 40 member board representing a diverse group of organizations and states. I have been a board member for 3 years and we meet 2 times a year to review the finances and set goals for the coming year. One of the major goals for this year has been to increase membership. We now have a database of 54,000 with 339 members. The conference was designed to get input from participants – it is a democratically run organization with input coming from the grassroots not top down and they work very hard to remain true to this philosophy.

2011 Goals include to: Education of membership, provide tech support, ballot initiative proposals, HC as a Human Right Campaign(a result of input from the Social Forum in June), promote regional HC–Now forums, expand the diversity of the movement, encourage fundraising, promote the Win Win program, continue to get endorsements for HR 676, support divestment campaign and support local actions such as nurses strikes, hospital closings, etc.

HC-Now needs funds, we agreed to increase staff from 2 full time to 2 ½ in order to better carry out the needed activities and funds are needed to do the campaigns. They are working on some grants but we need grassroots fundraising – our online donation system is a way to help SPNY raise money and also contribute to HC-NOW. Another way to help is encourage people to join Healthcare-NOW and donate either monthly or when they send out special requests.

I have attended all but one of their conferences and felt this was the largest and most energized. It was designed to present information but also to have considerable time to share ideas and brainstorm strategies. This is to allow the membership to come up with a strategic plan.

Single Payer/New York participants


Breakout Group
I facilitated the Education breakout group – this was a small group and we struggled to narrow the focus. Our hope is to have HC-Now be a ‘clearing house’ for materials which are developed by local and state groups such as handouts, videos, research, posters, PSA’s, stories etc. We need clear messaging, appropriate for the audience and readily available. They have just revised the “Improved Medicare for All” booklet which we received in our packets. Please share this and contact Katie with suggestions pro and con for edits – some of us already suggested some chart changes – they have done a small printing to allow for changes in the next printing.

Win Win Workshop
The Financial costs and high property taxes are becoming one of the most important aspects of our educating campaign –most states are near bankruptcy, Medicaid costs keep going up, retiree benefits keep going up as health care costs rise out of control. It is important to work with the press to get articles published, follow newspaper stories about tax increases and budget problems in the state and local governments. Have a cross section of community in the delegation that meets with city and county councils to get resolutions passed. The economic argument appeals to small businesses, Chamber of Commerce , politicians, unions, Republicans and more conservative Democrats. See the Win Win toolkit online at Healthcare-Now.org.

I hope this report provides some insights into how Healthcare-now functions as an organization – a report of the conference is available on their website with a write up of strategies from each breakout group.

Comments

2 Responses to “Report on Leadership and Healthcare-Now Strategy Conference, Nov. 12-14, 2010”

  1. Bev Alves on November 29th, 2010 1:40 am

    As an attendee, this is an excellent overview of what transpired at the various meetings of Healthcare-Now, and also what our goals are. In addition to long range goals, we were encouraged to develop some short range goals as well.
    Everybody In-Nobody Out!

  2. Linda Sakai on November 29th, 2010 12:49 pm

    Thank you for your comprehensive overview and leadership at the conference, Rebecca. Kudos also to Katie Robbins and Laurie Wen who organized a very cogent and insightful series of speakers, panelists and workshops. Often at my local level, I encounter dismay amongst single payer supporters who feel single payer will never happen. I was surprised to learn about both the extent of support there is for a single payer/medicare for all system, as well as the extent to which corporate dollars are being spent to mute that support: e.g., the National Council of Churches have endorsed single payer, but struck a deal to remain silent given the funding they have received from the likes of Johnson & Johnson. We need to aggressively “follow the money”. Also, a 2008 statewide ballot in Massachusetts showed public support ranging from 65-82% (many from conservative districts) in favor of “a single payer health insurance system” (go to: http://masscare.org/announcements/single-payer-ballot-questions-pass-in-all-fourteen-massachusetts-districts/). Amongst other insights, the Media Mobilization project demonstrated how any amateur with a Flip camera can engage a community by capturing and You-Tubing videos of local health care injustices. I left the conference fired up and ready to press on.

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