Liberal Activist: ‘Thousands of People Will Die Every Year’ Under Obamacare

By Elizabeth Harrington | July 31, 2013 | 4:35pm EDT

A hearse labeled ‘Obamacare’ joins the Tea Party march on Washington on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009. ( Starr)

( – “Thousands of people will die every year” and “costs will continue to go out of control” under Obamacare, says Public Citizen President Robert Weissman.

The only solution is to nationalize health care through a single-payer system, Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Public Citizen argued outside the U.S. Capitol Wednesday.

“Is this realistic after the passage of the Affordable Care Act?” asked Public Citizen President Robert Weissman. “This is what we know is going to happen after the Affordable Care Act is implemented.

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“However well it goes, whatever hiccups it has, two things are sure to happen,” he said. “One, millions of people are going to remain uncovered. And the best-case scenario, millions of people will remain uncovered, which means thousands of people will die every year from a lack of health insurance coverage.

“The second thing we know is that the private insurance companies are going to maintain control of our health care system,” Weissman said. “And we know that that means that costs will remain spiraling. Costs will continue to go out of control.”

“So it is the realists who call for a single-payer system,” he said. “It is the realists who say the time is coming, sooner rather than later.”

Weissman was one of a group of about two-dozen activists outside the Capitol chanting for a single-payer system, or government-controlled health care. Conyers began the press conference by leading chants of “everybody in, nobody out.”

The lawmakers would expand Medicare, which is for seniors 65 and older, to cover every American. “Medicare-for-all,” Public Citizen said in a statement, would “save enough money to cover” 50 million uninsured Americans.

Sanders, a self-described Socialist, said it was a “national disgrace” that the U.S. doesn’t have government-run health care.

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“The issue that we’re talking about today is about fundamental rights,” he said. “And it is about ending the disgrace, the national disgrace that the United States of America remains the only major country on earth that does not guarantee health care to our people as a right of citizenship.”

“Health care is a human right,” a woman shouted behind him.

“Health care is absolutely a human right,” Sanders agreed, “whether you’re rich, whether you’re poor or whether you are in the middle class.”

Conyers said “more and more people” want nationalized healthcare, “so that we get rid of all of these dozens and dozens of commercial enterprises that create so much economic problems.”

Also at the press conference was Gerald Friedman, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, who said, “We’re not talking about some fantasy of Sweden. Wwe’re talking about just acting like Ontario.

“If that isn’t realism, then I don’t know what is,” he said.

When asked the group why they should expect a single-payer system to work, when Medicare is on track to insolvency by 2026, they said a government-run system would fix that.

“Well let me just say what Sen. Sanders already alluded to is that we’re looking for the flexibility of the states to implement a single-payer system, which we believe will be attractive to other states and will catch on,” Ellison said. “That’s actually the way Canada ended up with its system. It began in the provinces and then spread to others.”

“By reducing administrative waste and controlling monopolistic pricing of drugs we would save so much money that there would be no issue of Medicare insolvency, or any other insolvency,” Freidman said. “It would reduce the federal deficit by $3 trillion over 10 years, even after providing for expansion of Medicare coverage.”

“The simple answer to your question is, in fact, the way to solve the issue of solvency is to put every single American on the rolls of Medicare,” said Dr. Robert Zarr, a physician and activist.

“That is how you save Medicare,” he said.

Ellison concluded the press conference by leading the activists in singing Happy Birthday to Medicare, which was signed into law 48 years ago, on July 30, 1965.

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