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Despite Obstruction by Capitol Police, Progressive Groups Deliver 2.2 Million Petitions to Democrats Still Not Backing Medicare for All

"Healthcare is a right, not a privilege, and our members will continue to push for it until we get it over the finish line."

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) speaks to activists who delivered 2.2 million petition signatures in support of Medicare for All on Capitol Hill on October 15, 2019. (Photo: Facebook/Screengrab)

A diverse coalition of progressive advocacy groups on Tuesday delivered 2.2 million petition signatures to House Democrats demanding that they use their majority to pass Rep. Pramila Jayapal's gold-standard Medicare for All bill.

The petition delivery hit a brief snag when members of the coalition—representing nurses, physicians, and consumers across the U.S.—were stopped by a Capitol police officer who said the public is not allowed to "deliver" items to members of Congress.

"Does that mean that lobbyists can no longer provide any materials to offices, too?" asked activist Maria Langholz.

Consumer advocacy group Public Citizen said it has "delivered petitions to Congress countless times" and "never encountered this before."

The groups were ultimately able to deliver petition signatures to a number of House Democrats who have yet to co-sponsor Jayapal's Medicare for All Act of 2019, including Reps. Darren Soto (D-N.J.), Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.), and Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa).

"Our members are organizing and pushing other members of Congress to get on board with Medicare for All," Joseph Geevarghese, executive director of Our Revolution, said in a statement. "Healthcare is a right, not a privilege, and our members will continue to push for it until we get it over the finish line."

Melinda St. Louis, director of Public Citizen's Medicare for All campaign, said the 2.2 million petition signatures "are reflective of what we're seeing at the grassroots level through efforts to win city and county council resolutions in support of Medicare for All."

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"As this campaign continues to gain steam," said St. Louis, "we expect to see more and more boxes of signatures from Americans demanding guaranteed healthcare for all."

A majority of the House Democratic caucus has co-sponsored the Medicare for All Act, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has refused to allow the bill to the floor for a vote. Tom Nickels, a lobbyist for the American Hospital Association, predicted in April that Pelosi would ensure there is no vote on Medicare for All as long as she holds the gavel.

Maplight's Andrew Perez reported Tuesday that the for-profit hospital industry is "leading the fight" against Medicare for All by bankrolling the Partnership for America's Health Care Future (PAHCF), a dark-money organization formed by corporate interests to crush single-payer.

Connie Huynh, healthcare for all campaign director with People's Action, said in a statement that "corporate greed keeps healthcare out of reach for millions of people."

"We can't wait," said Huynh. "We need Congress to vote for Medicare for All: it's the best solution to our healthcare crisis right now."

Watch the petition delivery:

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