A coalition of progressive groups, including labor unions and political organizations, is meeting in New Brunswick today to pressure Congressman Frank Pallone to support Medicare for All, the universal health insurance program built on the foundation of an existing government-run system.
Among those expected to attend the session are Karen White, of the Union of Rutgers Administrators AFT chapter, and Carol Gay, longtime leader of the New Jersey State Industrial Union Council.
Also represented is Our Revolution, Physicians for a National Health Program, Indivisible, Progressive Democrats of America, New Labor, National Nurses United and the Center for Popular Democracy.
The meeting will be held at Pallone’s district office at 67/69 Church Street, in New Brunswick. After the meeting with Pallone, White said volunteers plan to phone bank for a couple of hours at URA-AFT offices.
White also confirmed that volunteers would gather for a barnstorm event on February 13, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the Rutgers Labor Education Center, 50 Labor Center Way, in New Brunswick.
Darius Gordon, a national field organizer with the Center for Popular Democracy, and Erica Lee, from National Nurses United, the largest union representing registered nurses in the United States, joined local residents who are working to advance the proposal by confronting congressmen and rallying residents to accept nothing less than a total victory.
Planning has been going on for months.
“Efforts to pre-empt the growing movement for an expanded and improved Medicare for All are being led by the multi-trillion-dollar health care industry, giant insurance companies and pharmaceutical corporations,” said Lisa McCormick, a progressive activist who was involved in planning the meeting with Pallone. “We are not going to be satisfied by substituting a patchwork of fixes for the ongoing health care crisis because only universal coverage will work for millions of Americans.”
McCormick said coalition members want Pallone to champion Medicare for All instead of making excuses about why it cannot be done.
McCormick said one third of GoFundMe campaigns are for medical expenses, while the cost of live-saving insulin for diabetic patients has doubled in the past four years, and racial and ethnic disparities in cancer rates remain appallingly high.
“A system based on generating profits will never prioritize patient need. ‘Health care for some’ plans still leave us tethered to a market driven model that can be summed up with, ‘Your money or your life,’ while we urgently need justice for all Americans,” McCormick said.
The group scheduled a number of barnstorming rallies to share ideas for action on winning Medicare for All, such as organizing door to door canvassing in districts that are represented by key members of congressional committees, like Pallone.
Pallone is chairman of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee, which has broad authority to combat climate change, make health care and prescription drugs more accessible, and protect peoples’ privacy.
The Committee on Energy and Commerce is the oldest continuous standing committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, established in 1795 to regulate interstate and foreign commerce.
Today, Energy and Commerce has the broadest jurisdiction of any authorizing committee in Congress.
It legislates on health care; insurance; biomedical science; food safety; clean air; climate change; safe drinking water; energy; nuclear facilities; electronic communications and the Internet; privacy, data and cybersecurity; consumer protection; product safety; travel, tourism and sports; interstate and foreign commerce; and other areas.
“Our health care system is broken,” McCormick said. “In the United States we pay more for health care than any other country, and yet millions of our uninsured or under-insured people can’t get the lifesaving care they need.”
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