The Healthcare-NOW! coalition was established in 2004 to lobby on behalf of single-payer healthcare, where one entity—a government-run organization—would “collect all healthcare fees, and pay out all healthcare costs.” Its founder and first national coordinator was the late Marilyn Clement, who also served as an official with the Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom, and as executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights from 1976-89. Among Healthcare-NOW!’s original constituent groups were numerous socialist, labor, church and community organizations — most notably Physicians for a National Health Program. According to Healthcare-NOW!:
“In the current U.S. system, there are literally tens of thousands of different healthcare organizations—HMOs, billing agencies, etc. By having so many different payers of healthcare fees, there is an enormous amount of administrative waste generated in the system.… In a single-payer system, all hospitals, doctors, and other healthcare providers would bill one entity for their services. This alone reduces administrative waste greatly, and saves money, which can be used to provide care and insurance to those who currently don’t have it.”
Healthcare-NOW! promotes its agendas by holding national strategy meetings with volunteer organizers and healthcare activists across the United States. It maintains particularly close ideological ties to John Conyers, a leading advocate of single-payer healthcare in the House of Representatives.
In 2007, Healthcare-NOW launched a series of traveling “Road Shows” promoting single-payer reform; it also co-sponsored a Health Care Justice Vigil which has become an annual event held each September in Washington, DC.
In collaboration with the California Nurses Association, Healthcare-NOW! organized a June 19, 2008 “National Day of Protest Against Health Insurance Companies,” which featured simultaneous demonstrations in 17 American cities. The Socialist Party of New York lent its support to this “campaign against health insurance profiteering,” saying: “We will mourn the countless victims of the health insurance industry while marking Juneteenth – a day commemorating the emancipation of slaves in North America.” The Socialist Party USA also endorsed the event.
Quentin Young, founder of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), is Healthcare-NOW!’s national coordinator and co-chair. Other Healthcare-NOW! co-chairs include Leo Gerard (President of United Steelworkers of America), Rose Ann DeMauro (Executive Director of the California Nurses Association), and Jim Winkler (an official with the United Methodist Church).
Flavio Casoy, a San Francisco-based doctor and a prominent member of the Communist Party USA
The Healthcare-NOW! Board also consists of representatives from the Industrial Unions Council, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Labor Party, Latinos for National Health Insurance, the League of Young Voters, the Muslim Women’s Institute for Research and Development, the National Black Women’s Health Project, the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, the National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice, Progressive Christians Uniting, the Ruckus Society, the United Mineworkers of America, the Women’s Economic Agenda Project, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Four leaders of Physicians for a National Health Program also serve on the HCAN board: Oliver Fein, Ida Hellander, David Himmelstein, and Quentin Young
Healthcare-NOW! has been formally endorsed by a host of politically active organizations, among which are: