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Single-payer health care: dead in Washington, but alive in the states

Insurance companies may be winning the fight in Washington, but California and Vermont are on the cusp of comprehensive reform.

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President Obama delivered a stirring address to Congress last night, but the federal government's inability to truly overhaul our broken healthcare system – which now leaves more than 46 million uninsured – is becoming all the more apparent.

Speaking before a joint session of Congress, Obama declared that a public option to compete with private insurers, considered vital by many liberals, was merely a "means to an end," and not essential to healthcare reform. Earlier this summer, a New York Times/CBS poll showed that 72 percent of Americans support a government-run healthcare plan. But Obama's speech last night indicates that while a bill will probably pass, prospects for comprehensive reform – the kind millions of Americans voted for – have dimmed rapidly. Insurance companies, which have given large donations to both political parties, are winning the fight in Washington.

The inability of a popular president with substantial majorities in Congress to pass a progressive health bill is immensely frustrating to healthcare activists, and to all who gave Obama a mandate for change.

But their cause is not lost – they just need a new strategy.

Given the corporate world's disproportionate influence over Washington, it is time to take the fight for public healthcare away from Congress and into statehouses across the country.

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