November Newsletter

The Road Ahead

We’ve been very active over the past few months and encourage you to contact us with your questions and ideas on how to grow our movement.

As the presidential race continues to catapult Medicare for All into the national spotlight, it is becoming clearer that we are in greater need of refining our message to build the grassroots support necessary to force the change we want to see.

Why? The Medicare for All message is now being diluted and co-opted by many Democratic presidential candidates and politicians who have no intention (or history) of actually fighting for its principles — starting with the elimination of the private health insurance industry. The Medicare for All program becomes meaningless and unworkable unless it’s built on the proper foundation of a not-for-profit health care delivery system.

We must speak out, educate and organize. Without this, the effect is confusion and the acceptance of illusions.

Upcoming Film

Power to Heal is a hour-long public television documentary that tells a poignant chapter in the historic struggle to secure equal and adequate access to healthcare for all Americans. Central to the story is the tale of how a new national program, Medicare, was used to mount a dramatic, coordinated effort that desegregated thousands of hospitals across the country in a matter of months. We hope to show this movie in the coming weeks. More information to follow.

Town Halls

The WPA Steering Committee is talking with other groups and individuals about the possibility of Town Halls in our region to promote MFA as the solution to the health care crisis. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Ed Grystar – egrystar@aol.com.

Past Activities

Indiana / Armstrong County Central Labor Council Breakfast (Oct 12)

We were invited to show “Off The Table,” a 22-minute video about Medicare for All from a labor union perspective with interviews of union members from the US and Canada, and members of the Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP). John Thompson, Dr. Thomas Brockmeyer from the Pittsburgh chapter of PNHP and Steven Kocherzat, the assistant editor of the “Union Bug,” the monthly newsletter of the Beaver-Lawrence Counties Central Labor Council attended. They gave a brief presentation on Medicare for All after the video and answered questions. Thanks to Rachel Sternfeld, president of the Indiana-Armstrong Central Labor Council, for the invitation and all the sisters and brothers who attended. “Off The Table” is available at unionsforsinglepayer.org.

National Single Payer Strategy Conference (Oct 18-20)

More than 350 Medicare for All activists from around the country, including John Thompson, steering committee member, attended the National Single Payer Strategy Conference in Portland, OR the weekend of October 18th – 20th. A spirited rally in the center of the city on Friday afternoon kicked off the annual conference, which was sponsored by the Labor Campaign for Single Payer and Healthcare-NOW! The conference included plenary sessions with great speakers, including Sara Nelson, president of the AFA-CWA. The conference also included more than a dozen workshops on a variety of topics on building the movement to win Medicare for All. You can watch all of the conference’s plenary sessions on the Healthcare-NOW! Facebook page.

Greater Westmoreland County Labor Council (Oct 26)

Members of the Western PA Coalition for Single Payer Healthcare and the Pittsburgh chapter of the Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) attended the 32nd Annual Greater Westmoreland County Labor Council’s Labor Recognition Dinner on Saturday, October 26. Our two organizations purchased a table at the dinner and our organizations were recognized by Harriet Ellenberger, the labor council’s COPE director, during the program’s introduction of guests. We also took out a full-page ad in the dinner’s program book. Pictured from left to right, Dr. Judy Albert, Jan Carpenter, Dr. Tony Fiorillo, Walter Geiger, Steven Kocherzat, John Thompson, and T Berry.

Welcome the Coalition’s New Steering Committee Members:

Dr. Judy Albert

Dr. Judy Albert received her medical degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1982, and completed training with a residency at Magee Women’s Hospital at the University of Pittsburgh and fellowship at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.  She has been practicing in the field of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility since 1989.  She held an academic position at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania until 1992, when she returned to Pittsburgh to join a private practice, where she has been delivering care to women from the tri-state area for 27 years.  The focus of their practice is to help every patient to have a baby.

Dr. Albert has been involved in social justice organizing around human rights issues, and became aware of the national organization Physicians for a National Health Program in 2016.  She and several other Pittsburgh physicians chartered a local chapter and have been educating themselves and community members with presentations at churches, physician conferences, labor and community groups about the need for Expanded and Improved Medicare for All.  As the healthcare crisis continues to grow and Americans are forced to crowd fund medical care and medical debt, the need for change is obvious.  It became clear to her that as a physician, the best place to use her influence is in advocacy for healthcare reform.

Dr. Thomas Brockmeyer

Dr. Thomas Brockmeyer received his MD and PhD degrees from Yale University in 1982–1983. He then served as a Surgical Intern at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania from 1983-1984. He subsequently completed his Orthopedic Surgery residency training at the same institution in 1988.

From 1988 through 2017, Dr Brockmeyer served the South Hills area as a Founding, and then Managing, Partner of The Orthopedic Group, specializing in Joint Reconstruction and Hand Surgery.
His interest in Expanded and Improved Medicare for All grows out of his experiences as a Surgeon in private practice, as a small business owner, and now as a cancer patient as well.

He has been active in the local chapter of Physicians for a National Health Plan and has given multiple talks to groups in SW Pennsylvania on that subject. In addition, he has met with local and national politicians to advocate for this change. Dr Brockmeyer believes that universal access to health care is a fundamental human right.

Dr. Claire Cohen

Dr. Cohen received her Medical Degree from Hahnemann Medical  College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (now Drexel University Medical School) in 1980. She did her General Psychiatry Residency at the University of Chicago and Her Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinics of the University of Pittsburgh. She has practiced in Pittsburgh ever since. The greatest part of her career was spent at Pace School School-based Partial Hospital, where she treated all children, but specialized in treating children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder. She currently is an attending physician at Southwood Psychiatric Hospital for Children and Adolesents.

Final Links

Check out filmmaker behind Off the Table and activist John Rice’s great letter to the editor in the Post-Gazette!

Healthcare activist Kay Tillow has a tribute to longtime Medicare for All activist and author of HR 676 Rep John Conyers in the Daily Kos.

Questions?

Contact us to discuss how you can get involved
facebook.com/westernpasinglepayer
wpasinglepayer.org
Ed Grystar, Chair, egrystar@aol.com

Steering Committee:
Sen James Ferlo, (Retired)
John Thompson, United Electrical Workers International Representative
Judy Albert, MD
Steve Kocherzat, Esq, Beaver / Lawrence County Labor Council
Claire Cohen, MD
Lou Hancherick. Butler County Democrat Committee
Thomas Brockmeyer, MD
Dave Hughes, Citizen Power
Sandra Fox