Tonko, Conyers promote national health care plan

In the face of rising health-care costs, Congressmen Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., and John Conyers, D-Mich., met with local community leaders Sunday, March 29, to tout a bill that promises single-payer Medicare for all.

Tonko and Conyers met with Dr. Andrew Coates, an Albany-based physician and secretary of the Capital District Chapter for Physicians for a National Health plan, as well as representatives from various religious organizations in the region at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Albany to discuss the bill, H.R. 676.

What do you do if you don't have the money to afford affordable health care? asked Conyers.

According to the Physicians for a National Health Program, the United States spends the most on health care, yet there are still more than 45 million Americans who have no health insurance and millions more who are under-insured and unable to access care. Illness and medical bills contribute to half of all U.S. bankruptcies.

Advocates believe the solution is nonprofit national health insurance companies with a single-payer public program. The PNHP stated that such a solution would save the nation more than $350 billion per year, which would be enough money to provide comprehensive benefits for every citizen.

"Spoken most pragmatically, this is about providing affordable, accessible quality health care for all Americans. We must, and we will, do it better," said Tonko, a co-sponsor of the bill.

Conyers, who is the primary sponsor of H.R. 676, also known as the United States National Health Insurance Act, said the single-payer, publicly financed and delivered universal health-care program would cover all Americans without charging co-pays or deductibles. According to his Web site, www.johnconyers.com, it would guarantee access to health-care services regardless of employment, ability to pay or pre-existing health conditions.

The term "single payer" describes the kind of financing system that H.R. 676 would use. It means that one entity " in this case the government " would handle all billing and payment for health-care services.

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