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Kucinich: Health Care, Not Health Insurance
Nicholas Johnson (for Congressman Dennis Kucinich)
AARP Iowa Health Care Forum
Coralville, Iowa
December 8, 2003

NOTE: You'll also want to see Nicholas Johnson's "Another Iowan for Kucinich" page,

Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s health care proposals are unique among those of the leading Democratic candidates, certainly among those represented here this evening.

Kucinich proposes single-payer, universal health care for all.

As he says, “I don’t want all Americans to have health insurance. I want all Americans to have health care. I’m not an insurance salesman.”

We can afford health care for all. As he points out, we’re already paying for it, we’re just not getting it.

Universal, single-payer, Medicare for all is the system that has been adopted by virtually all of the world’s civilized, industrialized nations. It is the system that is consistent with the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is the system supported by 62 percent of all Americans and thousands of doctors.

And yet it is a system opposed by many of our elected officials -- Democrats as well as Republicans I am ashamed to say -- including all of the other leading presidential candidates.

Candidates are dependent on campaign contributions. And few contributors are more generous than those from the health industries.

Dennis Kucinich’s universal, single-payer health care plan has lots of precedents here as well as abroad. In fact, we already have such a system. It covers more individuals than the entire British health care system. It is supported by Republicans as well as Democrats, conservatives as well as liberals. It is called Veterans Administration hospitals. We have one in Iowa City, about a mile from here.

Universal, single-payer is the system that is the most easily understood.

The other candidates offer you variations on complex schemes.

• Schemes that continue to treat health care as a privilege rather than a human right.
• Schemes that fail to cover this group or that.
• Schemes that continue to deliver these basic goods and services through profit-maximizing corporations.
• Schemes that do little to control costs and less to control profits, as the money merely passes through the hands of seniors directly to the bottom lines of HMOs, pharmaceutical and insurance companies.
• Expensive schemes that retain those corporations’ multi-million-dollar executive compensation, stock options and retirement packages.
• Schemes that keep the campaign contributions coming from those who profit at our expense.
The other candidates think their schemes are the best we can do, that we have to start off compromising, if not capitulating, to the powerful special interests and lobbyists. (The pharmaceutical industry alone has six times as many lobbyists on Capitol Hill as there are U.S. Senators.)

Dennis Kucinich disagrees. He believes we need to stand up to the special interests, instead of starting off backing up. At a minimum we need to begin with what is in the American people’s best interests, what every other nation thinks is in their people’s best interests.

Nor is this just more campaign rhetoric from a candidate. Dennis has already studied, drafted, and introduced the legislation to accomplish what he believes we need.

It’s an approach that is consistent with Congressman Kucinich’s approach to every public policy issue.

Dennis has spent a lot of time in Iowa over the last few weeks. He regrets that his obligations in Congress prevent his being here this evening, and would want me to extend his greetings to all of you and his thanks to the Iowa AARP for sponsoring this forum.

Indeed, it is both symbolic and significant that as I speak to you in Coralville, Iowa, he is being honored in Washington by Dr. Patch Adams, the physician, activist, and founder of the Gesundheit! Institute, who was played by Robin Williams in the movie "Patch Adams." Dr. Adams’ endorsement of Dennis is the first time in Dr. Adams' life that he has ever endorsed a presidential candidate. In doing so Dr. Adams is joining thousands of other physicians throughout this country who applaud Dennis' courage in advocating the health plan we need and deserve.

I am not a paid staffer in the Kucinich for President campaign. I am not even an official volunteer. I have known Dennis, followed his career, and for nearly 30 years have admired his courageous advocacy for ordinary Americans. I have traveled with him, introduced him, and spoken for him.

But I speak for him only in the sense that I support him.

Only Congressman Dennis Kucinich speaks for Congressman Dennis Kucinich. What I have said this evening should not and cannot be attributed to him.

So check out his Web site at You’ll find there equally creative and courageous proposals for reducing defense spending, universal pre-school and day care, tuition free college education for all, responsible gun legislation, opposition to the death penalty, getting the U.S. out and the U.N. into Iraq, rejoining the world community by signing the pending global treaties, and workers’ protection from the worst of NAFTA and the WTO.

We have literature here, and an opportunity to sign up if you’re interested in learning more about Dennis.

And thank you again from me for this opportunity to be with you this evening.