There is an unhealthy tendency on the part of politicians and journalists to see discussions about economic recovery and health care reform as separate debates.

In fact, one of the most important steps on the road to economic recovery – or, more precisely, toward a new, responsible and sustainable prosperity – involves the fundamental reform this country’s broken health care system.

But it must be the right reform: the establishment of a national single-payer style healthcare reform system by expanding the existing Medicare system to cover all Americans.According to a new “Single Payer/Medicare for All: An Economic Stimulus Plan for the Nation” study released today by the National Nurses Organizing Committee/California Nurses Association, such a reform would provide a major stimulus for the U.S. economy by creating 2.6 million new jobs and infusing $317 billion in new business and public revenues into the economy. This reform would, according to the study, add $100 billion in wages to the currently sputtering U.S. economy.

Indeed, notes the NNOC/CAN, the number of jobs created by a single-payer system, expanding and upgrading Medicare to cover everyone, parallels almost exactly the total job loss in 2008. “These dramatic new findings document for the first time that a single payer system could not only solve our healthcare crisis, but also substantially contribute to putting America back to work and assisting the economic recovery,” says NNOC/CAN c o-president Geri Jenkins, RN.

Specifically, notes Jenkins, expanding Medicare to include the uninsured, and those on Medicaid or employer-sponsored health plans, and expanding coverage for those with limited Medicare, would:

1. Create 2,613,495 million new permanent good-paying jobs (slightly exceeding the number of jobs lost in 2008) — and jobs that are not easily shipped overseas

2. Boost the economy with $317 billion in increased business and public revenues

3. Add $100 billion in employee compensation

4. Infuse public budgets with $44 billion in new tax revenues

“Through direct and supplemental expenditures, healthcare is already a uniquely dominant force in the U.S. economy,” says the study’s lead author, Don DeMoro, who directs the Institute for Health and Socio-Economic Policy, the NNOC/CNA research arm. “If we were to expand our present Medicare system to cover all Americans, the economic stimulus alone would create an immense engine that would help drive our national economy for decades to come.

The union is highlighting its “Single Payer Job Recovery” plan with a major rollout today and activists with Progressive Democrats for America and other groups that support single payer are staging a national call-in to Congress Thursday.Here’s the PDA Action Alert on the new push for single payer:

Congressman John Conyers will reintroduce HR 676, his single-payer healthcare bill in the 111th Congress. Please ask your representative to cosponsor the bill and actively work with Rep. Conyers to gain additional cosponsors. In order to ensure HR 676 is part of the healthcare discussion in Congress, we need 150 cosponsors by the end of February.

Former Sen. Tom Daschle, President-Elect Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, called for “a government-run insurance program modeled after Medicare” in testimony before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions as part of the solution to our healthcare crisis. His plan also includes health insurance corporations. Only HR 676 would implement a sustainable, fair, and efficient solution to the healthcare crisis as well as providing economic stimulus.

While single-payer healthcare proponents have made good headway in the House, there is still no companion bill in the Senate. Urge Sen. Edward Kennedy to sponsor a companion bill to HR 676 in the Senate.