By Geri Katz
MNA Healthcare Reform Specialist
The last few weeks in healthcare justice advocacy have been like nothing I’ve ever seen in my whole career. If you had asked me six or eight months ago, “do you think Single Payer healthcare will be having a renaissance in the United States in 2017?” I would have laughed at you.
The debate over repealing the Affordable Care Act laid bare the GOP’s real attitude toward healthcare: “if you can’t afford your medical bills, it’s your fault;” “American lives aren’t worth as much as tax cuts for the wealthy.” It was clear they had no solutions to the problems Americans really have with healthcare, such as the skyrocketing premiums, high deductibles, and the stranglehold insurance companies have over our healthcare decisions.
Public awareness and support for a progressive solution to fix our healthcare system exploded when Americans realized all the good the ACA has done—including coverage for millions and reforms of the most egregious practices of the insurance industry. People also recognized the damage repealing it could inflict, and they spoke up.
When asked in March of 2017 if it’s the responsibility of the federal government to make sure all Americans have healthcare coverage, 52 percent of Americans said yes. In July, after months of debate over repealing the ACA, 62 percent answered yes to that question. That’s an astonishing 10-point increase in just four months.
This is a new era. A large majority of Americans are on the way to the same conclusion that MNA and NNU nurses came to years ago. The only way to fix our healthcare system and ensure everyone can access care is through a publicly-funded, privately delivered Single Payer universal program. It’s now the job of Single Payer activists to educate those 62 percent about the way a Single Payer system could save them money, save tax dollars, and cover everyone.
Since the beginning of this year, the majority of Democratic U.S. Representatives have signed on as co-sponsors of the “Medicare for All” bill authored by Representative John Conyers of Michigan.
Last week Senator Bernie Sanders announced he’d be introducing a new Single Payer Medicare for All bill on September 13 (tomorrow). Within days, the Sanders bill has gained the support of Senators Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillebrand of New York, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaii, and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. They’ve all signed on as co-sponsors.
It’s looking more and more like Medicare for All, Single Payer healthcare is the standard of the Democratic party, rather than a fringe idea held only by those on the far left. Remember last year when Secretary Hillary Clinton said Single Payer “would never, ever come to pass,” and the bulk of the Democratic establishment lined up behind her candidacy for President? Who would have thought things could change so much in such a short time?
This is an exciting moment for the movement for guaranteed healthcare. Public opinion is on our side. There is no excuse for any elected official calling themselves a progressive to oppose Single Payer. It’s clear that the insurance market-based healthcare system is broken beyond repair, and we need to turn to the solution most other industrialized countries are using.
As of this writing, neither of Minnesota’s U.S. Senators had signed on to be co-sponsors of the Medicare for All bill. We have to turn up the pressure. Can you make two calls: to Senator Al Franken’s and Senator Amy Klobuchar’s offices to urge them to sign on to the bill as a cosponsor?
Senator Al Franken (D-MN): (651) 221-1016
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN): (612) 727-5220
Your calls can be quick and easy. You will either talk to a staffer or reach a voicemail. (Leave a message if you get voicemail.)
You can personalize your call however you like, but make sure you say:
- Your name, that you’re a Registered Nurse and where you live.
- “I’m calling to urge Senator Franken/Klobuchar to cosponsor the Single Payer, Medicare for All bill that Senator Bernie Sanders is planning to introduce on September 13.”
- Healthcare should be a right, not a privilege for those who can afford it.
- Senator Sanders’s bill will cover all Americans, save money for patients and taxpayers, and improve health outcomes.
- Add anything you want to share about why you support Medicare for All.
- If you would like to ask for a response from the Senator’s office, provide your phone number or email.
If you receive a response to your call, or have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.