Maine AllCare Report to PNHP
by Phil Caper, MD
Editor’s Note: Most of you who visit our website know that Maine AllCare is the official Maine chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program. PNHP is a non-profit research and educational organization of 18,000 health care professionals who support single-payer national health insurance – simply put, health care for everyone.
Maine AllCare has had a busy year. We have given over 30 presentations throughout the state from Presque-Isle in the north to Biddeford on the south, to groups including community forums, church groups, rotary clubs, community educational and discussion groups, public library lecture series and others. Our format is to show an educational video, such as The Health Care Movie or the PBS Frontline show "Sick Around The World", followed by a facilitated discussion by a MAC speaker or invited panel. These discussions invariably go on for over an hour (sometimes two), and have to be shut down when we run out of time. There is a great deal of interest in health care reform by the people who choose to attend. We are also seeking opportunities to speak to audiences that are not already members of the choir, such as Lions Clubs and local Chambers of Commerce.
We have given medical and pediatric grand rounds at the Maine Medical Center in Portland and to study groups at the Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangot, Maine's two biggest hospitals, as well as medical grand rounds at Parkview hospital in Brunswick and a lecture to the FP residents in Lewiston.
We are using these educational fora to further expand our campaign to organize MAC chapters throughout the state, defined by geography and/or affiliation. We now have nascent chapters at the University of New England School of Medicine and in the state legislature. We have additional forums planned for the Fall at the Muskie School of Public Policy, and a public showing of THCM, with participation by the film-makers, at a cinema multiplex in downtown Portland.
We continue our campaign of op-eds and LTEs, and have a regular monthly column in one of the state's leading daily newspapers. We are continuing to develop our Board, and now have 13 members including two sitting legislators. Charles Priest of Brunswick who is the leading single payer advocate in the House, and Dr. Geoff Gratwick, a practicing rheumatologist from Bangor, who now sits as Senate Chair of the Financial Services and Insurance Committee. Also recently added to the Board is Susan Lamb, President of the Maine Chapter of The National Association of Social Workers.
We continue to expand our work building coalitions, and have recently joined as a participating member of the newly formed "Health Care As A Human RIght" campaign being spearheaded by the Maine AFL-CIO, Maine Nurses Association (part of NNU), and the Maine People's Alliance, a 16,000 member statewide grass roots advocacy organization. We are also continuing to recruit additional organizations, such as the Maine chapter of PSR, as coalition members.
In early September, we have scheduled a strategic planning retreat to assess our progress to date, and to chart a course forward to 2017, when we hope to position Maine to be one of the states to put a universal, not-for-profit health care system in place as part of the waiver authority of the Affordable Care Act.
—Philip Caper, M.D., Vice President, Maine AllCare