By Helen Thomas for SFGate

It’s all so sad. Well-organized conservatives have launched a full-scale attack on health care reform. And they appear to be winning — for now.

Their victory strategy involves deliberate distortions of the truth and scare tactics. Under the plans Congress is considering, a government bureaucrat will come between you and your doctor, their TV ads intone ominously. You will lose your private health insurance, dumping you into an inferior government plan. You won’t be able to choose your doctor, they say.

The desperate opposition also claims we will have “socialized medicine,” rationed care and forced euthanasia for the elderly.

Those falsehoods and calls to disrupt congressional town hall meetings are being peddled by right-wing organizations such as, which is directed by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, now a Washington lobbyist with clients including a major international pharmaceuticals company.

I covered the battle to create the Medicare system back in the 1960s. The cries of “socialized medicine” worked for years until President Johnson rammed Medicare through Congress in 1965.

Johnson signed the Medicare legislation on former President Harry Truman’s desk in Independence, Mo. Truman had first proposed a health care program for the elderly back in the 1950s.

Truman, still feisty at age 81, was all smiles.

I remember a newsman went up to Johnson and told him “my mother thanks you.”

Johnson turned to him and said: “You should thank me,” meaning Medicare would help families with the increasingly heavy financial burden of caring for seniors.

What kind of a nation are we if we do not provide everyone with the excellent medical care that only some of us now receive?

I continue to think the so-called single-payer system is the only answer to the nation-s obligation to make sure that no one lacks health care. Yes, single payer means a government-run health insurance program for all — the prevailing system in Canada and in many nations in Europe.

At this point under the current employer-provided private health insurance system, 47 million Americans have no coverage and more are losing what they have every day through job loss in this devastating recession.

President Obama is making a big mistake by ignoring the single-payer proposal.