Nurses Union to Back Medicare for All With Week of Action

Troy Brown, RN

February 05, 2019

National Nurses United (NNU) is sponsoring the National Medicare for All Week of Action from February 9 to 13, which will include 130 barnstorms across the country where activists will "learn the ins and outs of organizing our communities" and how to "persuade additional legislators to sign onto the bill," according to an NNU news release.

"This historic moment, driven by pressure not from the top, but from the grassroots, reflects a sea change in the political landscape that should put everyone on notice," the news release states. "Momentum to replace a callous system premised on profiteering off sickness with a humane model based on patient need and health security has been steadily building."

NNU is the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in the United States, with more than 150,000 members nationally. This is the "next major phase" in the effort to transform healthcare, they say.

The barnstorming events come as Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash) prepares to introduce an "updated version" of a House Medicare for All bill, along with her fellow representatives Keith Ellison (D-Minn) and Debbie Dingell (D-Mich). As many as 70% of Americans support Medicare for All, according to the nurses union.

"Political Will"

However, with the Republican-led Senate opposing the expansion of public health insurance, some are now reluctant to push House Democrats to stick their necks out for legislation that appears doomed. The barnstorming events are intended to help ordinary citizens let their representatives know this issue is important to them.

The group's strategy includes reaching out to the two US House committees that deal with healthcare — the Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committees — and to representatives in areas that flipped from Republican to Democrat in the 2018 elections.

House Democratic leadership plans to have hearings on the legislation in the rules and budget committees; however, the Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committees — the main health committees — have made no commitments, according to Politico.

Elements of the revised legislation include comprehensive coverage; genuinely universal healthcare; no premiums, deductibles, or co-pays; freedom of choice; an end to "corporate health care price gouging"; and the preservation of healthcare services for veterans.

The group cautioned that some lawmakers who represent the healthcare industry and not the general public are working to pass "'Medicare for some' knock-off bills" in an effort to stop "true Medicare for all" from becoming law.

Other industrialized nations, according to NNU, have shown it is possible to guarantee healthcare for all Americans at a lower cost and health outcomes that are equal to or better than those seen in our current profit-focused healthcare system.

"The barrier to transformative health care reform is not cost or political expediency, it is political will," NNU said in the release.

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