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Sick in the head: Why America won’t get the health-care system it needs

When Congress is in session, Michigan Congressman John Conyers holds a regular public meeting at the Rayburn House Office Building, where, if you happen to be interested in health policy, you are welcome to join like-minded citizens in considering the merits of HR 676, also known as The National Health Insurance Bill. If signed into law, HR 676 would require a single payer (the government) to provide health insurance to every American, which is likely why most Americans have never heard of it. Nearly every other wealthy nation has a single-payer system, but in the United States-or at least in Congress-single payer generally is understood to be too utopian, too extreme, and certainly too socialist for domestic consumption.

I was surprised, therefore, when I went to one of the meetings in July and found a hundred or so people stuffed into a stately conference room. Everyone had a notebook, but no one had the bored look of a political reporter. These were activists, young and mostly black or Hispanic. Conyers, along with several guest speakers, sat behind balusters on a low platform that crossed the width of the room. At the other end, near the door, someone had arranged a banquet table potluck style, with tins of homemade brownies and cupcakes. I pushed my way to one of the few remaining chairs in the back as Conyers, now at the lectern and speaking softly into a microphone, asked whether anyone would like to address the gathering.

A fine analysis from Harper’s

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