Since Austin DSA and others pushed Rep. Lloyd Doggett to cosponsor H.R. 1384, Medicare for All Act of 2019, we’ve seen a domino effect in Congress.The latest legislators to sign on to single-payer are Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA 30th District) and Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA 24th District). That brings the number of cosponsors of Rep. Jayapal’s H.R.1384 to 114! To capitalize on this momentum and keep the energy going, we held our third national Weekend of Action on June 15-16, with dozens of DSA chapters participating across the country (check out the photos on Facebook!).
Our movement’s pressure has also led to the first ever hearing on Medicare for All in the House Ways and Means Committee. Unlike the Budget hearing, this committee has the authority to legislate the bill’s primary policy and funding structure. Sanders Institute Fellow Michael Lighty explained the significance of this on camera, and went further in Jacobin: “The Ways and Means Committee must be used as a platform today and a focus for organizing based on our program... We cannot stop our outside agitation.”
Beyond Congress, Democratic primary candidates are also feeling the pressure. Joe Biden has been making absurd arguments against Medicare for All, Kamala Harris bizarrely took back her initial support during the Democratic debates and even Elizabeth Warren has failed to fully back the bill. The only person truly championing Medicare for All in the presidential primary is democratic socialist Bernie Sanders, and he has a serious shot of winning.
The attacks are coming from elsewhere too. Just in time for the first debate, Mitch McConnell’s One Nation group is spending $4 million of undisclosed money to blanket the airwaves with attack ads against Medicare for All. This is just the beginning of a massive corporate campaign to fight our movement. The reactionary TV spot plays on fears of longer wait times, but we know our care is already rationed — by ability to pay.
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📋 From the campaign
News from the M4A blog and the broader campaign
“If we let the Democrats define what’s possible, we will never achieve universal healthcare,” said longtime healthcare activist and Sanders Institute fellow Michael Lighty in a fiery speech at a Medicare for All town hall hosted by East Bay DSA and San Francisco DSA. “The only way to combat this is with a mass movement... Our struggle for health justice can reclaim our humanity.”
Lighty was later joined by Gordon Mar (SF Board of Supervisors), Jasmine Ruddy (National Nurses United), and Uma Tadepalli (DSA SF and Physicians for a National Health Program) for a panel discussion on how to make Medicare for All a reality. You can watch a recording of the entire discussion here (the discussion starts at around the 22-minute mark). Stay tuned for more announcements on Michael’s next speaking tour dates!
The statistics never feel less shocking, no matter how many times we hear them: 45 percent of Americans worry that a major health issue could bankrupt them, writes Boulder DSA member Dave Anderson, citing a recent Gallup poll.“The only truly universal proposal is offered in the bills by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington state) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) to institute an expanded and improved Medicare for All,” he writes. “We are close to a historic floor vote on Medicare for All. It’s time to get into the fight.”
The fight for Medicare for All also means fighting for reproductive rights — including abortion — without apology, writes Lillian Cicerchia. Sen. Sanders’ S. 1804 and Rep. Jayapal’s H.R. 1384 both include “comprehensive reproductive care” and also nullify the Hyde Amendment, which prevents Medicaid programs from providing federal funds for abortions except in dire circumstances. In this way, Sanders’ bill frames women’s healthcare in a radical, holistic light. “By tying abortion access into a health system that addresses all of women’s needs, it affirms a more expansive sense of reproductive justice: both the right to reproduce and the right not to in a safe and healthy environment.”
Related news articles, essays, articles from outlets beyond the campaign
East Bay DSA’s Meagan Day is in Jacobin this month with a personal plea:“I’m Gay and I Want Medicare for All.” In it, she writes “I support Medicare for All because it’s for everyone — but it’s especially important for gay and transgender people. It should be a central demand of the movement for our liberation.” Especially on point during Pride season, Day’s article touches on some specific ways M4A would be liberating and life-changing for millions of queer people as well as how the universal demand for healthcare can bring people together across lines of difference, united against profit-motivated insurance and pharmaceutical companies. Simply put, “When we have Medicare for All, everyone — gay and straight, cisgender and transgender — will be able to get the drugs and services they need to flourish and lead better lives.”
Elizabeth Warren seems to have a plan for everything, so what about healthcare? Tim Higginbotham is back in Jacobin this month asking the question on everyone’s mind. Since announcing her campaign for the presidency, the senator has come out strong with progressive policy proposals on topics like universal childcare, abolishing student debt and even taxing the richest Americans. She has criticized Joe Biden’s conservative record and decried the greed of corporations. She’s even a cosponsor of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s S.1804 — the Medicare for All Act of 2017! Healthcare is a major issue for voters, but that doesn’t seem to be the case for Warren. Her silence is a bitter disappointment for the future of single-payer.
Activist and DSA member Ady Barkan shared his thoughts on the first ever hearing on Medicare for All in the Ways and Means Committee. In an op-ed revealingly titled “I’m Dying of ALS, And Watching Congress Debate Healthcare This Week Gave Me Hope,” Barkan reminds us how far our movement has come. After years on the fringes, “now, thanks to decades of activism and principled leadership... we have held three hearings in two months on Capitol Hill, in full view of TV cameras. If the old maxim is true ― first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win ― they’re certainly not ignoring us anymore.” He also implores readers to join him in the fight, writing “...(Medicare for All) will mean that we stop thinking about health care as a commodity that some people are too sick or too poor to afford. Instead, we’ll be making a fundamental commitment to one another: that healthcare is a human right and we all deserve to live with dignity.” We couldn’t agree more.
On June 12th, Bernie Sanders gave a historic speech on democratic socialism. In it, he says we are in a critical moment to stand up to forces of authoritarianism and oligarchy and lays out his vision “to bring our people together in the fight for justice, decency and human dignity.” Sanders draws a parallel between our current social and political climate and that of FDR’s progressive New Deal era, which saw the implementation of initiatives like Social Security, unemployment compensation, the minimum wage, and massive infrastructure improvements that are now considered pillars of American society. As part of his plan, Sanders gave us a 21st Century Economic Bill Of Rightsthat establishes once and for all that every American, regardless of his or her income is entitled to:
- The right to a decent job that pays a living wage
- The right to quality health care
- The right to a complete education
- The right to affordable housing
- The right to a clean environment
- The right to a secure retirement
🔦 Chapter spotlight
A look at what locals are doing around the country
Check out all the posts from chapters who participated in our 3rd National Weekend of Action! From June 15-16, DSA chapters across the country held and attended events, canvassed, and otherwise got the word out about Medicare for All and encouraged their neighbors to pressure their Representatives to cosponsor H.R. 1384. From Seattle to Boston and everywherein between, huge thanks to our campaign volunteers for making the weekend a success!
Boulder DSA held a town hall panel on June 16 as part of the Medicare for All Weekend of Action. The panel is a good explainer on why Medicare for All is the only option and how to win the rhetoric war against the public option and ACA reform. You can watch it here.
Kern County DSA shared this video of their birddogging Rep. TJ Cox about his failure to cosponsor H.R. 1384. Rep. Cox was so uncomfortable, he felt the need to get a nearby officer involved. Yikes! But our comrades didn’t back down and got their message across. Something tells us Rep. Cox can expect to hear a lot more from his constituents on this. Probably easier to just cosponsor the bill, dude.
Also out of California, we hear Pinellas DSA had a hand in pressuring Rep. Brad Sherman to become co-sponsor #113! We’re thrilled the momentum is building and more and more chapters are confronting Congressmembers and demanding their support for a bill that meets our 5 principles. If you’d like to launch your own pressure campaign, check out our new Organizing Guide.
What’s that? Another one?! Thanks to Santa Barbara DSA, we’re ending the month with 114 cosponsors on H.R. 1384. Incredible! Ady Barkan met with Rep. Carbajal just a few days ago, and along with his coalition convinced the Congressman to affirm his commitment to healthcare as a human right. We continue to be inspired by Ady using his platform to build the mass movement we need to take on private interests and win Medicare for All.
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