“Local governments can help to shape the national public narrative and build political will needed to ultimately win guaranteed healthcare for everyone.”
By Jake Johnson for Common Dreams
A coalition of progressive advocacy groups representing nurses, physicians, and consumer advocates launched a campaign Thursday to pressure cities and towns across the U.S. to pass resolutions supporting Medicare for All.
“By passing resolutions, local governments can help to shape the national public narrative and build political will needed to ultimately win guaranteed healthcare for everyone as a matter of right,” Melinda St. Louis, Medicare for All campaign director at Public Citizen, said in a statement.
In just the past month, the cities of Seattle, San Francisco, and Cambridge, Massachusetts, all passed resolutions backing Medicare for All.
“We hope to see many more local governments pass these critical resolutions, because we are beyond tired of seeing patients in our communities—who are our neighbors, friends, and family—suffer and die unnecessarily in our broken, profit-driven system,” said Jean Ross, president of National Nurses United. “It’s time for leadership at all levels to do what’s right and strongly, publicly support Medicare for All.”
The local resolutions are non-binding, but Medicare for All campaigners said they are an important part of building grassroots momentum for a national single-payer system.
To help activists pressure their local representatives, the new campaign offers a step-by-step guide (pdf) to passing a Medicare for All resolution, sample resolution language, and an organizing toolkit.
“Tools for building local power are critical in the fight for Medicare for All,” Diane May, communications director for Our Revolution, said in a statement. “As more and more local governments pass resolutions supporting Medicare for All, we will show elected officials in Washington that the time has come to guarantee healthcare as a human right.”
A comprehensive Medicare for All bill in the House, introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), currently has 106 Democratic co-sponsors. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is expected to introduce an improved version of his Medicare for All bill within the next few weeks.
The campaign—led by National Nurses United, Public Citizen, Our Revolution, and more than a dozen other groups—comes as evidence of the systemic dysfunction of the current for-profit healthcare system continues to pour in.
As Common Dreams reported on Tuesday, a Gallup survey found that Americans were forced to borrow $88 billion to cover their healthcare costs in 2018.
“Local governments deal most directly with the consequences of our unaffordable and inequitable health insurance system,” noted St. Louis of Public Citizen. “Municipal budgets are increasingly strapped due to rising health insurance premiums, and local governments provide frontline response when community members face medical debt-related bankruptcies or become gravely ill or die needlessly.”