Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

National Nurses United have led the fight for Medicare for All, staging demonstrations and lobbying politicians since the organization began in 2009. (Photo: National Nurses United/Flickr/cc)

To Galvanize Local Push for Medicare for All in 2019, Nurses' Union Organizing Nationwide 'Barnstorms'

With progressive advocates pressuring lawmakers on Capitol Hill to push for legislation, organizers hope local activism will bolster support in communities across the country

Julia Conley

As progressive groups push Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill to bring Medicare for All legislation up for a vote in the new year—a move that would bring Congress closer to passing a proposal supported by 70 percent of voters—one of the nation's leading advocates for a single-payer system is asking supporters to make their voices heard in the fight to make universal healthcare a reality in the United States.

National Nurses United (NNU), which has been fighting for the proposal since the union's founding in 2009, is asking members and supporters to host Medicare for All "barnstorms" during a National Week of Action from February 9th to 13th.

"To build the mass collective action we know we'll need to win, we're asking activists like you across the country to organize a Medicare for All barnstorm in your community," the group wrote to supporters in its petition asking for volunteers. "At the barnstorm you'd gather with volunteers near you, talk about the plan to win, and begin organizing to knock doors, make phone calls, and more in your community."

Organizers believe that the barnstorms will demonstrate the widespread support that Medicare for All has gained in recent years, especially among Democratic voters—84 percent of whom support the proposal—as the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) and other groups call on the new Democratic House majority to push for a vote on the legislation.

"If Congress brings Medicare For All for a vote, we will see who stands with over 70 percent of Americans, and who stands with the lobbyists. Then we'll know who needs persuasion—and who needs a primary," said the PCCC last week.

Public support for Medicare for All has grown amid repeated attacks on the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—the latest of which came in the form of a federal judge's ruling earlier this month that declared the ACA unconstitutional.

Progressives have pointed to such attacks as clear evidence that Medicare for All legislation would provide a stable healthcare system that would extend care to all Americans. As such, proponents are calling for expanding and improving one of the most popular government-run programs instead of allowing states to administer, or refuse to administer, the ACA's provisions while continuing to prop up the for-profit health insurance industry.

While U.S. District Court Judge Reed O'Connor ruled that the ACA is unconstitutional due to its individual mandate requiring all Americans to purchase insurance, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) noted, Medicare for All would be immune from such claims.

"There's no doubt that would be constitutional. Medicare is already constitutional and what we're saying is extend it to everyone, so there can be no constitutional argument," Khanna told The Hill last week.

The lawsuit, which followed the Republicans' attempt to repeal the ACA in 2017 and the Trump administration's expansion of short-term healthcare plans, among other sabotage efforts, "is one more example of how tenuous the law really is," Eagan Kemp of the advocacy group Public Citizen, told The Hill. 

"You don't see the same type of sabotage to Medicare. So to me it highlights that the Medicare program remains the third rail of politics, so if we're going to build a new health-care system, it's something that can be safe," Kemp said.

Though Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) Medicare for All proposal now has the support of 15 senators, some Democrats have continued to insist in recent weeks that the plan is somehow "unrealistic" or difficult to afford—despite the fact that even a study by the Koch brothers-funded Mercatus Center found that the plan would $2 trillion less over ten years compared to the current for-profit system. 

"We all support Medicare for all," said former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe—who is rumored to be a 2020 presidential candidate—in an interview with CNN over the weekend. "But we have got to figure out how we pay for it. It's unrealistic in terms of how we pay for it today."

McAuliffe was quickly rebuked on social media by advocates who know that with current total healthcare expenditures at $3.5 trillion in 2017—up from 2016—Americans would spend at least $35 trillion on healthcare over the next 10 years under the current system, instead of the $32.6 trillion that Medicare for All is projected to cost.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

UN Chief Urges Global Solidarity on Covid, Climate, and Debt Relief

"The last two years have demonstrated a simple but brutal truth, if we leave anyone behind, in the end, we leave everyone behind," said the secretary-general at the opening of the virtual Davos summit.

Jessica Corbett ·


Sinema's MLK Day Tweet Sparks Online Fury

One group criticized the Democratic senator from Arizona as "the white moderate MLK warned us about."

Andrea Germanos ·


Why Did Democratic AG Kill Flint Water RICO Case?

"Political corruption poisoned Flint and political corruption shielded the wrongdoers from accountability," said one critic following new revelations.

Kenny Stancil ·


Progressives Counter Cherry-Picked Quotes With MLK's True Legacy

Calling out those who have "weaponized" his words "to justify legislated white supremacy," Rep. Ayanna Pressley said King "was a radical dreamer with a bold vision for revolutionary change."

Jessica Corbett ·


'No Celebration Without Legislation': King Family Leads Voting Rights March

"I will not accept empty promises in pursuit of my father's dream," said Martin Luther King III.

Andrea Germanos ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo