SiCKO Star at Patrick Henry Club tonight

Those of you who saw SiCKO, Michael Moore’s 2007 masterpiece on the American healthcare crisis [What?? A couple of you didn’t see it!? Well, go rent it now!] will remember Dawnelle Keyes, the Los Angeles mother whose 18-month-old daughter Mychelle died because their insurance company (Kaiser) would not let Mychelle be treated at a non-Kaiser facility.

Several of the victims who told their stories in the groundbreaking documentary have gone on to become activists who speak out across the country for guaranteed universal healthcare – Dawnelle, Larry and Donna Smith, and the 9/11 rescue workers Reggie Cervantes and John Graham. Well, Dawnelle is coming to Santa Ana tonight (Tuesday night) to the Patrick Henry Democratic Club meeting at Marie Callender’s, 1821 N. Grand Avenue, at 7 PM.

Some of you may know I’ve been the director of the Orange County chapter of Healthcare For All California for three years or so; we are dedicated to getting what’s called a “Single Payer” healthcare system in our state, based on Senator Sheila Kuehl’s bill SB 840. The term “universal healthcare” has become so abused by politicians from Governors Schwarzenegger and Romney to our Dem candidates Hillary and Barack that it’s virtually meaningless; to have truly universal healthcare that is also affordable and comprehensive it needs to be a single-payer system – that is, getting rid of the for-profit private health insurance companies which we need like a fish needs a bike. I’ll be writing a lot more about single-payer here in the future, here’s my arguments last year with our state Senator Tom Harman, here’s my series of (fun) letters to Arnold the year before trying to convince him to sign SB 840 when it passed the legislature in 2006.

I assume Dawnelle, who’s now with some group called “Health Care Today” will be speaking either in favor of single-payer or some incremental process that could (arguably) get us there. But either way she should be worth listening to.

I like that we’re discussing a universal healthcare system at the PATRICK HENRY Club, named after the American revolutionary best known for declaring “Give me liberty or give me death!” Some rightwingers might think they see a contradiction between liberty and what they innacurately call “socialized” or “government-run” healthcare. But do you really think our founding fathers would have stood for an industry that pays its CEOs in the billions while leading to the deaths (thru denial of care, in the richest nation in history) of 22,000 Americans a year?

It was our great forefather Ben Franklin, the same patriot who famously said “Those who would trade a little liberty for a little security deserve neither,” who started our first “socialized” fire department – protecting ourselves from fire, crime, foreign enemies, disease and injury are exactly the reasons we get together and form a society – all other industrialized countries have figured that out! And it was the fiercely independent Republican president Teddy Roosevelt who broke up the huge monopolies a hundred years ago when he saw that their unlimited drive for profits was hurting the nation. So I expect some Republicans and conservatives to start coming around to the idea of single-payer healthcare. And a good place to start would be meeting Dawnelle Keyes tonight at the Patrick Henry Club!

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official political troubadour of Anaheim and most other OC towns. Regularly makes solo performances, sometimes with his savage-jazz band The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.