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'They May Have the Money... We Have the People': Sanders Calls for Citizen Co-Sponsors of Medicare for All

"This is a struggle not just about healthcare but about the heart and soul of our country, about what we stand for as a people. It is a struggle we are winning. And it is a struggle we will win."

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks during a National Nurses United event in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Gary Cameron/Reuters)

With his new and improved Medicare for All legislation coming in the next few weeks, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Tuesday issued a call for "citizen co-sponsors" of the bill to show the insurance industry and the political establishment that the public is "ready to fight harder than ever for the fundamental belief that healthcare should be a right."

"In this pivotal moment in American history, let us lead our country forward to guarantee healthcare as a right and not a privilege. This is a struggle whose time has come."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders

"It was not long ago that the idea of Medicare for All was dismissed and ridiculed by the corporate media and political establishment of this country. Too radical, they said. Fringe. Crazy. Pie in the sky. Well, they are not saying that anymore," the Vermont senator and 2020 presidential candidate wrote in an email to supporters. "That is because of you... You've led the way. It is not because of me. It is because of us. That is the political revolution."

Sanders' call for citizen co-sponsors comes as the insurance and pharmaceutical industries are marshaling their limitless resources to stop Medicare for All and uphold the most expensive and least effective healthcare system in the industrialized world.

Acknowledging that the corporate forces profiting from the status quo are "spending billions of dollars in lobbying and campaign contributions" to defeat Medicare for All, Sanders said the deep-pocketed opposition can be overcome by an organized and energized grassroots movement.

"They may have the money, but we have something more powerful: We have the people," Sanders declared. "In this pivotal moment in American history, let us lead our country forward to guarantee healthcare as a right and not a privilege. This is a struggle whose time has come. This is a struggle not just about healthcare but about the heart and soul of our country, about what we stand for as a people."

"Nurses take an oath to advocate for our patients, and we can think of no better way to advance their health and the health of our country than to be on the frontlines of organizing this nationwide social movement to win Medicare for All."
—Bonnie Castillo, National Nurses United

As the Associated Press reported last week, Sanders' Medicare for All legislation is expected to be more comprehensive and ambitious than previous versions of the bill.

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Resulting from persistent pressure by disability rights advocates, the most significant change to Sanders' legislation will be the addition of long-term care. Rep. Pramila Jayapal's (D-Wash.) Medicare for All bill, which was introduced in the House last month, also includes long-term care.

Jayapal's Medicare for All legislation currently has 106 co-sponsors. The previous version of Sanders' Medicare for All bill garnered 16 Senate supporters.

To build on Medicare for All's grassroots momentum and pressure members of Congress to co-sponsor the Sanders and Jayapal bills, National Nurses United (NNU) is hosting over 1,500 canvassing and phone-banking events in all 435 congressional districts this month and through the beginning of April.

"As nurses, we see not only our patients, but family, friends, and neighbors in our community suffering needlessly because healthcare is not provided as a human right in this country," said NNU executive director Bonnie Castillo, RN. "Nurses take an oath to advocate for our patients, and we can think of no better way to advance their health and the health of our country than to be on the frontlines of organizing this nationwide social movement to win Medicare for All."

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