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Hoping to Transform 'Momentum Into Policy', Thousands Expected to Flood Capitol Hill to Demand Medicare for All

"By building people power at the local level across the country—while shoring up congressional champions through strategic advocacy—we will win Medicare for All."

Progressive groups including the Women's March and the Center for Popular Democracy are organizing a Medicare for All lobby day on Capitol Hill on Friday. (Photo: Michael Fleshman/flickr/cc)

Ahead of the third annual Women's March this weekend, thousands of Americans are expected to descend on Capitol Hill on Friday for a Medicare for All lobby day organized by progressive campaigners.

The Women's March and the Center for Popular Democracy are among the organizations participating in the push, hoping to convince as many lawmakers as possible to co-sponsor Medicare for All bills in the Senate and House—proposals that represent the majority of American public opinion.

"The grassroots energy over the past two years has brought us to a point where the people have the opportunity to set an agenda," Jennifer Epps-Addison, co-executive director of Center for Popular Democracy Action, told The Hill. "With the most diverse Congress in history, we can turn our momentum into policy to improve the lives of all people in this country. We support Medicare for All because it ensures that all people can access the care that they need to thrive."

"With the most diverse Congress in history, we can turn our momentum into policy to improve the lives of all people in this country. We support Medicare for All because it ensures that all people can access the care that they need to thrive." —Jennifer Epps-Addison, Center for Popular Democracy Action

"We brought our #PowerToThePolls in November, electing a #WomensWave to Congress," wrote Women's March organizers in their Facebook event page. "With a growing progressive caucus inside the most diverse Congress in U.S. history, it's time to push forward our agenda—the Women's Agenda. First up on the list? Achieving Medicare for All, because access to healthcare is a key part of every woman's life."

The House bill, proposed by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), currently has 124 co-sponsors, with more than 100 declining to back it thus far while Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I-Vt.) legislation has 15 co-sponsors in the Senate. More than 30 Democratic senators have yet to support the proposal.

More than 70 percent of Americans support Medicare for All according to a recent poll by The Hill and HarrisX.

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Protesters are planning to convey that message to their representatives and senators Friday during visits to congressional offices, demanding that lawmakers support legislation to provide government-funded healthcare to all Americans—replacing the for-profit healthcare system which has helped make medical costs the leading cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States.

Advocates were hopeful this week that Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) would hold a hearing on Medicare for All as chairwoman of a House subcommittee on health. But Eshoo told Politico on Wednesday that the proposal would only be examined after the subcommittee tackled drug prices reform and protection of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), if there was any "spare time."

Critics urged advocates to make sure their message gets to Eshoo on the lobbying day.

"Jayapal's bill lays out a clear plan to ensure all of us can get the quality healthcare we need, regardless of how much money we have in our bank account," said Connie Huynh, director of the Healthcare for All campaign at People's Action. "It moves us closer to realizing health as a human right, which is what our members have clearly and boldly demanded since People's Action and its member organizations started organizing for healthcare justice decades ago."

The lobby day comes a day before the Women's Wave, the third annual nationwide protest organized by the Women's March. It also coincides with a campaign launched by the advocacy group Public Citizen, calling on Americans to engage with their representatives and demand that they support Jayapal's proposed legislation.

"Predictably, the insurance and pharmaceutical companies that make billions from our broken health care system are working overtime to crush Medicare-for-All," said Melinda St. Louis of Public Citizen in an email to supporters.

"This fight won't be easy," she added. "But taking on entrenched corporate interests to promote the public good is what Public Citizen and our members do best. By building people power at the local level across the country—while shoring up congressional champions through strategic advocacy—we will win Medicare for All."

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