Progressive Democrats of America continues its campaign to add a firm commitment to universal health care to the 2008 Democratic platform. PDA activists were at the platform committee’s gathering in Cleveland last weekend, and they plan a major presence at the key pre-convention session this coming weekend in Pittsburgh.

Getting language as strong as PDA seeks will be difficult. Illinois Senator Barack Obama, whose campaign controls the platform-writing process, has been cautious about committing too firmly to the mandates that would be required to insure universal coverage.

That was clear at last weekend’s Cleveland gathering.

But the PDA activists are winning allies.

More than 180 delegates to this summer’s Democratic National Convention — led by House Judiciary Committee chair John Conyers, the second-longest serving Democrat in teh House and an early and essential Obama backer — have now signed on to the following letter:

Senator Barack Obama has called for passage of universal health care as one of his most important legislative priorities if elected president. Senator Hillary Clinton also called for passage of universal health care as one of her most important legislative priorities if elected president.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors, at its June 2008 national meeting, passed a resolution in support of single-payer health care. A recent study found that 59 percent of physicians support universal health care. Thirty-five state AFL-CIO organizations support single-payer health care.

Today, 47 million Americans have no health insurance, and another 50 million are under-insured. The Institute of Medicine tells us that 21,000 people die each year because of a lack of health insurance, and the United States ranks 37th in overall health care indicators in the world.

Leaders of American businesses cite rising health care costs as a crisis that is undermining American business’s ability to compete with other countries that have lower health care costs.

Forty percent of all bankruptcies are due to unpaid medical bills, and most of those who filed for bankruptcy had health insurance at the time of filing. An estimated 58 million adults are at risk of incurring medical bills they may not be able to afford, including 17.6 million privately insured adults.

For the Platform to be adopted at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, we support a plank calling for our nation to enact universal health care that will:

* Guarantee accessible health care for all.

* Create a single standard of high quality, comprehensive, and preventive health care for all.

* Allow freedom of choice of physician, hospital, and other health care providers.

* Eliminate financial barriers that prevent families and individuals from obtaining the medically necessary care they need.

* Allow physicians, nurses and other licenced health care providers to make health care decisions based on what is best for the health of the patient.

The PDA letter will be delivered in Pittsburgh, where the progressive Democrats and their allies plan to rally for a “Health Care for All” platform.