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Gray Panthers Oppose Nancy Pelosi On Health Care Bill



Gray Panthers Oppose Nancy Pelosi On Health Care Bill
By Joan Wile

The fight for a single payer health care bill is not over, if the Gray Panthers have anything to do with it. In no uncertain terms, they told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's staff on May 26 that the so-called "reform" health care legislation was not acceptable to their organization. Although there are a few aspects of the bill that they deem adequate, for the most part they cannot support it.

"Since 1970, the Gray Panthers have always fought for a single payer system, and we are still committed to that objective," said Susan Murany, Executive Secretary of the group, who attended the meeting in Pelosi's office, along with others representing organizations advocating for seniors.

Ms. Murany explained to the Speaker's staff that the Panthers demand a Single Payer system or, at the very least, a Public Option plan with teeth -- one for EVERYbody only. That is certainly not the case now, inasmuch as there is no public option at all in the current bill.

The other participants at the meeting in the Speaker's office, all leading organizations dedicated to seniors' issues, did not oppose the new legislation openly. Only Ms. Murany objected, expressing the Panthers' dissatisfaction and their resolve to keep struggling for a single payer system.

Generally, there appears to be considerable disappointment with new Congressional legislation. At the Campaign for America's Future Conference on June 8, for instance, Pelosi was shouted down on a number of issues.

Upon listening to its members after the so-called "reform" bill passed in March 2010, the Gray Panthers decided to launch an aggressive campaign to obtain a single payer health care plan rather than endorse the current legislation as the other seniors groups apparently have done. The Panthers state in their March 2010 response to the passage of the health care bill, "The Gray Panthers believe that profit needs to be taken out of health care." To that end, the Gray Panthers will dedicate themselves tirelessly to working for single payer health care and will do so, if necessary, without the support of other “aging” organizations.

"We need to be fighting for health care reform, NOT health insurance reform," Ms. Murany firmly declared.

The Gray Panthers, an intergenerational, multi-issue national social action organization formed in 1970 by the legendary firebrand, Maggie Kuhn, has been reinvigorated in recent years by a new Board of Directors and its dedication to three main causes -- the environment, health care, and peace. 2010 is their 40th Anniversary year, and to commemorate it, they designated 40 actions to occur throughout the year. Two have already been held on April 17, 2010 -- a 40th Anniversary gala in Washington DC and a demonstration in front of the White House demanding environmental protection.

And, now, once again, with their public announcement of opposition to the health care plan, the feisty Gray Panthers are in the vanguard fighting for a just cause where others fear to tread.

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Joan Wile is the author of "Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace" (Citadel Press)

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