Health Care for America Now

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Health Care for America Now (HCAN) announced itself in July 2008, an election year advocacy campaign funded with tens of millions of dollars from unions and liberal donors to raise the issue of the lack of health coverage for over 40 million Americans, helping Democratic Party candidates. [3] [4] Its name is confusingly similar to Healthcare-NOW!. [5]

HCAN spent tens of millions of dollars successfully lobbing for "ObamaCare," PPACA, signed into law in late 2009, guaranteeing that no single payer health care system would exist in the United States. In lobbying for PPACA, HCAN gave in and supported the bill even after a Public Option was stripped away.

Birth of HCAN

On July 15, 2008, Richard Kirsch, the National Campaign Manager for Health Care for America Now, explained why HCAN was not going to advocate for a single-payer health insurance system. He wrote: "I was a leader of the fight for single-payer reform during from 1988 to 1994. ... So what happened to me? Five years ago,I sat down to write a history of the struggle to win a single-payer system. ... To my surprise, the writing led me to a fresh understanding of the paradox of achieving universal health care in the United States: the political debate about health care reform is turned upside down once the debate turns from the problem state to the solution stage. At that point, people become more scared about what they will lose from reform than what they will gain." [1]

With the election of Barack Obama, HCAN became a massive liberal lobby for Obama's vision of health care reform, one that rejects a single payer health care system such as exists in Canada, Britain, Germany and most western democracies. As an advocate for Obama, HCAN does not endorse United States National Health Care Act: H.R.676. [2] reported in October 2008 that candidate Barack Obama had "signed on to the progressive Health Care for America Now campaign’s principles – a move that bolsters the clout of the nascent organization and could provide him with artillery support as he starts to pound the health-care issue on the presidential campaign trail. ... Health Care for America’s principles were based on the proposal of University of California at Berkeley political scenic professor Jacob Hacker, who’s also advised Obama. ... Including Obama, the coalition of more than 275 organizations has collected the signatures of about 75 lawmakers for guaranteed, affordable care that would insurance company regulations (sic)." [3]

HCAN vs. single-payer advocates

In March 2009, there was an online debate in which Dr. Don McCanne, a retired family physician now serving as Senior Health Policy Fellow for Physicians for a National Health Program, represented the single-payer point of view and Jason Rosenbaum, a writer and activist, and the Deputy Director of Online Campaigns for Health Care for America Now represented the Obama/HCAN position.

Single Payer advocate Jerry Policoff noted on March 12, 2009 that a recent poll commissioned by HCAN "suggests strong grassroots support for the Obama-supported Healthcare reform plan. It is indeed an interesting survey, though not a particularly candid or objective one, and if one reads between the lines, the survey strongly suggests that the one option respondents were not asked to consider, the Single-Payer option, would have resoundingly defeated the others if it had been included in the survey questionnaire." [6]


The following major advocacy and union groups are among HCAN's members. For a full list of the coalition members, see the HCAN website:

Financial supporters

Other organizations that share (or shared) HCAN's K Street Suite #400 address

Contact information

Health Care for America Now
1825 K Street NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20006

Phone: (202) 955-5665
Email: info AT

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. Richard Kirsch, Why not single-payer?, HCAN website, July 15, 2008.
  2. [1]
  3. [2]

External resources

External articles