By Brenda Flanagan for NJTV News
Junior Romero joined a handful of dedicated souls supporting Medicare for All at a rally in New Brunswick. It was a minuscule showing, compared to Thursday’s millionaire’s tax blowout in Trenton, but what they lacked in numbers, the coalition of progressives more than made up for in passion. They came with a message for Rep. Frank Pallone.
“We are at the whims of an industry that does not care for our well-being unless we have the money to pay up and that’s unacceptable. So we here to tell the congressman that the time is now to act for Medicare for All,” said Anna-Maria Visky, chair of Our Revolution. “We elected him, and we are encouraging him to stand by us.”
“We are tired of waiting. It’s been too long. Too many people are dying,” said the president of the New Jersey State Industrial Union Counci0, Carol Gay. “We don’t want better insurance. We want better health care.”
The New Jersey Universal Healthcare Coalition wants Pallone, who is chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, to co-sponsor HR 1384, the Medicare for All Act, and to hold hearings on the bill.
Pallone’s resisted, saying, “The House Democrats’ focus right now is on preventing the Trump Administration’s sabotage of the Affordable Care Act, making health care more affordable, and reducing prescription drug prices. Medicare for All is a good idea, but our priority has to be what we can achieve in the current Congress.”
But the coalition is making inroads.
“In New Jersey we only have two congresspeople on board with 1384 — that’s Bonnie Watson Coleman and Donald Payne, Jr. We’re thankful to them, but the rest represent a huge challenge,” said Tom Knoche, the chair of New Jersey Universal Healthcare Coalition.
The group got some thumbs-up as they marched down George Street headed for Pallone’s office with petitions and a box full of postcards from folks urging Pallone to back Medicare for all. Sen. Cory Booker, by the way, is already a supporter.
But when they arrived at Pallone’s office on Church Street, nobody was there except for workmen doing scheduled maintenance and construction. Still, protesters vowed they will be back and that the issue is not going away.