Health Care for America Now (HCAN)

Health Care for America Now (HCAN)


* Coalition that supports a “single payer” model where the federal government would be in charge of financing and administering the entire U.S. healthcare system
* Has close ties to Barack Obama and the Democratic Party

Established in early 2009, Health Care for America Now (HCAN) describes itself as a “national grassroots campaign of more than 1,000 organizations in 46 states representing 30 million people” who believe that “[o]ur government’s responsibility is to guarantee quality affordable health care for everyone in America and it must play a central role in regulating, financing, and providing health coverage …” Specifically, HCAN supports a “single payer” model where the federal government would be in charge of financing and administering the entire U.S. healthcare system. HCAN’s strategy is to achieve such a system incrementally, first by implementing “the public option”—i.e., a government insurance agency to “compete” with private insurers, so that Americans will be “no longer at the mercy of the private insurance industry.” Because such a government agency would not need to show a profit in order to remain in business, and because it could tax and regulate its private competitors in whatever fashion it pleased, this “public option” would soon force private insurers out of the industry.

A noteworthy co-founder of HCAN was Roger Hickey, who also co-founded the Campaign for America’s Future and the Institute for America’s Future. Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean announced HCAN’s mission on the first night of the annual “America’s Future Now!” conference hosted in June 2009 by the Campaign for America’s Future, where Dean pledged to spend up to $82 million to advance the cause of socialized medicine.

Effective at mobilizing large numbers of demonstrators who share its healthcare ideals, HCAN rallied 15,000 people in Washington, DC in April 2009, another 10,000 there in June 2009, and—in collaboration with the Maine People’s Alliance—hundreds more in three Maine cities the month after that. In addition to organizing and funding local demonstrations such as these, HCAN devoted significant financial resources to such initiatives as advertising in regional and national television and print media, and to establishing a major presence in the new media world of the Internet, blogs, and text messaging.

Most of HCAN’s component organizations have no experience or expertise in health care, and virtually all have received large, tax-exempt grants from leftist billionaire financiers like George Soros and Teresa Heinz Kerry. The public demonstrations for health-care reform that HCAN has organized are largely Soros-financed operations. In August 2009, Soros pledged $5 million to HCAN.

The HCAN Steering Committee is composed of the following organizations: ACORN; the AFL-CIO; the AFSCME; the American Federation of Teachers; Americans United for Change; the Campaign for America’s Future; the Center for American Progress Action Fund; the Campaign for Community Change (the so-called “action center” of the Center for Community Change); the Children’s Defense Fund Action Council; the Communications Workers of America;; the NAACP; the National Council of La Raza; the National Education Association; the National Women’s Law Center; the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); the United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW); the United Food and Commercial Workers Union; USAction; Women’s Voices, Women’s Vote; and Working America.

Among the multitude of HCAN’s rank-and-file member groups are the following national organizations: 9 to 5, the Congressional Black Caucus Health Brain Trust; Democracy for America; the Gamaliel Foundation; the League of United Latin American Citizens; the National Abortion Federation; National Association of Working Women; the National Coalition for LGBT Health; the National Congress of American Indians; the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health; the National Minority Quality Forum; the National Women’s Health Network; the Older Women’s League; the Planned Parenthood Federation of America; the Progressive States Network; True Majority; the Universal Health Care Action Network; the U.S. Public Interest Research Group; and the YWCA.

HCAN also includes regional chapters of such organizations as the ACLU, the Center for Community Change, Citizen Action, Organizing for America, and Pax Christi USA.

These coalition members share many agendas not only with one another, but also with the Democratic Party generally and the Barack Obama White House in particular. For example, the HCAN Steering Committee includes the organization Americans United for Change, whose President, Brad Woodhouse, served as communications director for the Democratic National Committee under President Obama. In the summer of 2009, Obama nominated Craig Becker, general counsel of HCAN Steering Committee member SEIU, for a seat on the five-member National Labor Relations Board, the highest court of appeals for labor disputes. Becker’s appointment was but one measure of SEIU President Andrew Stern’s tremendous influence with Obama. Another HCAN member, Clergy Strategic Allegiances, records on its website that its “[s]ervices have been provided to … [the] Democratic National Committee … [the] North Carolina Democratic Party, Sojourners and Call to Renewal, [and the] Maryland Democratic Party.”

Among the more notable political figures to state their support for HCAN’s core principles in 2009 were President Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden, and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.

As of early August 2009, some 199 Members of the 111th Congress (178 Representatives and 21 Senators) had stated their support for HCAN’s agendas. Among these political leaders were: Neil AbercrombieTammy BaldwinCorrine BrownJohn Conyers, Elijah Cummings, Peter DeFazioRosa DeLauroRichard DurbinKeith EllisonChaka FattahBob FilnerRaul GrijalvaLuis GutierrezTom HarkinJesse Jackson Jr.Marcy KapturJohn KerryBarbara LeeSheila Jackson LeeJohn LewisJim McDermottJim McGovernJohn MurthaJerrold NadlerEleanor Holmes NortonEd Pastor, Donald Payne, Charles RangelBobby RushJanice SchakowskyJose SerranoJoe SestakPete StarkNydia VelazquezDiane WatsonHenry Waxman, Robert Wexler, and Lynn Woolsey.

In the summer of 2009, HCAN published a “playbook” of tactics designed to help supporters of socialized medicine neutralize the impact made by any protesters who might attend healthcare town hall meetings moderated by Democrat Members of Congress. This publication characterized such protesters as “angry mobs” of “far right-wing ideologues recruited by paid organizers” like insurance “industry lobbyists and public relations firms.” “Their goal,” said the handbook, “is to stop Obama, influence the media, and scare members of Congress into thinking that there is more [public] resistance to health care reform than really exists.” The book further accused such protesters of using “tactics and rhetoric” replete with “anti-tax, anti-abortion, anti-immigration” themes that “resonate with the farthest right wing of their [Republican] party.” Moreover, the book advised supporters of socialized medicine to adopt the following specific strategies for minimizing the visibility and influence of the protesters:

  • “You must bring enough people to drown them [the protesters] out.”

  • “Arrive earlier than the other side does: we need to stack our folks in the front to create a wall around the Member [of Congress].”

  • “When the other side gets too loud, we should shut them down with chants that counter their message like ‘Health Care Can’t Wait!’ and ‘Health Care Delayed Is Health Care Denied!’”

  • “Another way to limit protesters’ ability to hijack your event is to confiscate signs or leaflets that they may bring into the venue from outside. The best way to do this is to make a blanket rule that no one can bring signs or leaflets …You can distribute your own signs in the event and offer them one as they enter if you choose to allow them to enter.”

  • “It’s important that you take away right wingers’ opportunities to talk with reporters by making sure that your staff or leaders are in constant contact with the media who attend.”

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