U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) is a rare man of principles in politics. That’s why he couldn’t in good conscience vote for the healthcare reform package (H.R. 3962) that Congress passed over the weekend.

Kucinich, a progressive who’s been in Congress since 1996, released a statement about his vote against the Democratic healthcare plan. It’s available at commondreams.org. Rightly describing the insurance companies as a “predatory, for-profit insurance system which makes money not providing healthcare,” Kucinich said that they are clearly “the problem, not the solution.”

According to Kucinich, H.R. 3962 is requiring “at least 21 million Americans to buy private health insurance from the very industry that causes costs to be so high, which will result in at least $70 billion in new annual revenue, much of which is coming from taxpayers. This inevitably will lead to even more costs, more subsidies, and higher profits for insurance companies - a bailout under a blue cross.” Those who don’t buy this insurance will be penalized.

It gets worse. “By incurring only a new requirement to cover pre-existing conditions, a weakened public option, and a few other important but limited concessions, the health insurance companies are getting quite a deal,” Kucinich wrote. “The Center for American Progress' blog, Think Progress, states, ‘since the President signaled that he is backing away from the public option, health insurance stocks have been on the rise’ ... Bloomberg reports that Curtis Lane, a prominent health industry investor, predicted a few weeks ago that 'money will start flowing in again' to health insurance stocks after passage of the legislation.”

And still worse. “The 'robust public option' which would have offered a modicum of competition to a monopolistic industry was whittled down from an initial potential enrollment of 129 million Americans to 6 million,” continued Kucinich. “An amendment which would have protected the rights of states to pursue single-payer health care was stripped from the bill at the request of the Administration.” That amendment was proposed by Kucinich.

As the only progressive who voted against the healthcare legislation, Kucinich voiced concerns that many of us have, concerns that the Democrats ignored.

I remain, like Kucinich, a supporter of single-payer healthcare. I believe, as he does, that America deserve better than what the Democrats delivered last weekend. There is no true healthcare reform without the elimination of the insurance industry.

As long as these companies are in the picture, they will reap huge profits, and Americans will not get quality affordable care. As it is now, we have a lousy system, we pay more than people in other industrial nations for care that is ranked by the World Health Organization as 37th in the world.

The only hope is, as Kucinich says, “America will someday come to recognize the broad social and economic benefits of a not-for-profit, single-payer healthcare system.”

The majority of Americans already support it. The problem is the politicians.

Tommi Avicolli Mecca is co-editor of Avanti Popolo: Italians Sailing Beyond Columbus, and editor of Smash the Church, Smash the State: The Early Years of Gay Liberation, which has been nominated for an American Library Association award. His website is www.avicollimecca.com.