It's time for legislators to prove democracy exists by passing Medicare for All

It's time for legislators to prove democracy exists by passing Medicare for All
© Stefani Reynolds

If you try to get between a nurse and their patient, you will lose.


I think of registered nurses like Sandy Reding when I hear this smart advice. Last year, when admitting staff tried to keep her pediatric patient from going into surgery because the family had no insurance, Sandy fought tooth and nail until that child finished the surgery.

“I went through my manager, my director. Finally, I said I’ll call the CEO and if that doesn't work, I'll call the press. I have a union behind me, so that makes me more bold,” said Reding. “But the child did have that surgery.”

Reding is just one of thousands of National Nurses United nurses who have spent decades fighting for Medicare for All as a way to protect patients not just from illnesses and injuries — but from the broken, profit-driven system in which they are forced to seek care.

ADVERTISEMENT
On Feb. 27, U.S. Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalActivist: Exclusion of domestic workers from federal labor laws 'a legacy of slavery' How Trump suddenly brought Democrats together on a resolution condemning him House votes against striking Pelosi remarks from record MORE introduced the Medicare for All Act of 2019, H.R. 1384, which builds upon years of a growing, grassroots social movement led by nurses like Reding.

We nurses know and believe that this is the the best bill at the right time for moving America forward. Jayapal’s legislation is the most comprehensive to date, including all primary care, hospital and outpatient services, prescription drugs, dental, vision, women’s reproductive services, maternity and newborn care, mental health, long-term services and supports for people with disabilities.

The Medicare for All Act of 2019 gets rid of debilitating premiums, deductibles and copays. It eliminates crippling out-of-pocket expenses so that even people “with insurance” no longer have to set up GoFundMe campaigns for their expenses. This bill provides real freedom of choice — with care good at any hospital, outpatient clinic, surgery center, physician, lab and any other provider.

Nurses agree that now is the perfect time to launch and enact Medicare for All.

We nurses and our allies have been playing this long game for decades and it is paying off. Public support for Medicare for All is at a record high, with a recent Reuters-Ipsos poll showing 70 percent of respondents are in favor. Grassroots activism has reached unprecedented levels, with volunteers in a nurse-led Medicare for All coalition knocking on over 13,000 doors and identifying over 16,000 supporters of Medicare for All from August 2017 through September 2018 alone.

ADVERTISEMENT
An early February “Medicare for All Week of Action” sponsored by NNU featured 150 Medicare for All community organizing events held across the country, attended by around 5,000 people and resulting in 1,300 canvasses.

The health insurance industry, Big Pharma and legislators backed by health care industry funding scramble to push patchwork bills and more incremental change as they desperately seek to protect the status quo off which they profit billions. But these are just faulty bandaids.The people want Medicare for All. Period. And every single day, this movement is growing, neighbor by neighbor, door knock by door knock, phone call by phone call.

The majority of Americans will no longer be bullied by the tired scare tactics corporate stakeholders have been using for decades. It’s no question that every other modern nation on earth already has guaranteed healthcare and even studies by the Koch brothers-funded Mercatus Institute show that America will save money by switching to Medicare for All.

The health insurance industry is dumping massive money into attacks on Medicare for All. But the nurses, patients, families and working people who have been pushing the Medicare for All movement forward for decades are fed up with the lies.

We’re tired of paying for our current, broken health care system with our life savings—or with our actual lives. A majority of the people in this country, regardless of party or background, are demanding real health care reform, now. In the name of democracy, our legislators must answer that demand by supporting the Medicare for All Act of 2019.

Just like nurse Sandy Reding showed, don’t get between health care justice and our patients. The people are on the right side of history and we will win.

Bonnie Castillo, RN is the executive director of National Nurses United (NNU), the country’s largest union and professional organization of registered nurses, with more than 150,000 members nationwide.