Urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to "forego political expediency and incrementalism" in favor of a bold solution to the healthcare crisis exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, 116 delegates elected to represent California at the Democratic National Convention issued an open letter Sunday demanding an up-or-down floor vote on the Medicare for All Act before the November election.
The delegates, who represent 50 of California's 53 congressional districts, are planning to hold a rally and deliver the letter to Pelosi's San Francisco office at 12:00 pm PT on Monday.
"Medicare For All is the single most life-saving piece of legislation that Congress could adopt."
—Dr. Hae Min Cho, San Francisco delegate
"Our privatized, employer-based health coverage model is an international embarrassment," reads the letter, which was also signed by 14 delegate alternates. "It economically crushes working families for the private profits of a few elites. Under this unjust system, people are going without care because they can't open up their wallets."
"The time is now to recognize healthcare as a human right," the letter continues. "The time is now to #PassTheDamnBill."
Pelosi has steadfastly refused to allow a vote on Rep. Pramila Jayapal's (D-Wash.) Medicare for All Act despite its popularity in California, across the nation, and in the House of Representatives, where a majority of members have signed on as co-sponsors.
— Bernie Delegates- CA 2020 (@CaDelegates) June 28, 2020
The Washington Democrat's legislation, first introduced last February, would transition the U.S. over a two-year period to a single-payer system that provides comprehensive healthcare to everyone in the nation for free at the point of service. The bill has been hailed by single-payer advocates and experts as the gold standard for Medicare for All legislation.
Even as the coronavirus pandemic has caused millions to lose their employer-provided insurance amid mass job loss, Pelosi and other Democratic leaders have thus far only offered patchwork and expensive solutions like an expansion of COBRA subsidies and strengthening the Affordable Care Act.
By contrast, progressives like Jayapal and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)—who handily won California's 2020 Democratic presidential primary in March—have called for an emergency expansion of Medicare to cover the uninsured.
"Medicare for All is the single most life-saving piece of legislation that Congress could adopt. Covid-19 threatens us all, but not equally," Dr. Hae Min Cho, a San Francisco delegate and letter signatory, said in a statement. "Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders are dying at four times the general rate. Our Black brothers and sisters are dying at 2.4 times the general rate. Young Latinx folks have the highest rates of exposure in CA."
"Homeless neighbors, incarcerated folks, and migrants in ICE detention facilities are in much greater danger," Cho added. "Trans people, the elderly, and poor desperately need coverage. We all need Medicare For All, now more than ever."
Read the delegates' full letter to Pelosi:
The full list of signatories can be read here.