by Donna Smith
January 25, 2008
DONNA SMITH is featured in the Michael Moore documentary Sicko. Since her appearance in the movie, Donna founded American Patients for Universal Health Care and has toured the country, speaking about her experience from the movie and about the struggle for health care rights for all.
In December, prior to a screening of Sicko in Seattle, she spoke to KATE JOHNSON and JOHN DIMOND of the Seattle activist group Right To Health Care Now!
MICHAEL MOORE’S documentary shows that almost everyone in America has a health care horror story. Can you talk about your story and how you came to be featured in the movie?
MY HUSBAND, Larry, started having heart and artery trouble about 1990, when he had his first heart attack. For a period of years, he was in and out of the hospital, and he had a lot of things done. He was only 46 when he started having trouble.
At the time, our insurance was good, but not great, but it did at least cover the things that he needed to have done. But like many Americans, our premiums started to creep up, and our co-pays and deductibles started to go up, and the coverage started to get worse. So just at the time when his health care needs were growing, our coverage was shrinking, and we were feeling some bad financial pressure from that.
WITH ALL the Democratic presidential candidates, with the exception of Dennis Kucinich, refusing to support single-payer, and instead proposing market-based solutions like the Massachusetts plan, what should activists committed to the passage of single-payer do in the next year?
WHAT I think would be of primary importance is to work for progressive congressional candidates to get them in office. Don’t contribute a dime to any candidate who does not support single-payer, universal health care.
I know many of us in the activist community aren’t the real big money-givers anyway, but we often give of our time and our energy pretty freely when Democrats ask us, because we assume that they’re going to be along our general ideology.
If somebody calls you and they want your time or they want your commitment, ask “Where does your candidate stand on single-payer?” If they say, “I don’t know” or they say they don’t stand with single-payer, put your work behind someone who does. Let’s get a Congress elected that’s progressive enough to pass HR676, which is the single-payer bill that’s already there, with 86 co-sponsors.
That’s 20 percent of the Congress that already believes single-payer is the right way to go. That’s an awesome accomplishment already. We can make it happen. But we need to elect a Congress that will pass it.
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