Medicare for All activists rally in Baltimore

Members of the group Healthcare Is a Human Right-Maryland rally for a national health program on January 25, 2023 in Baltimore.

(Photo: Healthcare Is a Human Right-Maryland/Facebook)

Baltimore Becomes Latest US City to Officially Endorse Medicare for All

"Every Baltimore resident deserves healthcare whenever they need it," said one local pastor who backed the resolution. "It's time to join every other developed nation in making healthcare a guaranteed human right."

Baltimore on Monday became the latest of over 100 U.S. municipalities to officially endorse a national healthcare program, commonly called Medicare for All.

The passage of a Medicare for All resolution—introduced by Democratic Baltimore City Councilmembers Kristerfer Burnett and Odette Ramos—puts Maryland's largest city in a growing group of municipalities including Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Denver, Austin, and Washington, D.C. that have endorsed federally funded universal healthcare programs.

"I want to thank the advocates who have been pushing these resolutions across the country to try and show that there are municipalities that understand that our constituents, in order to fully thrive, need access to healthcare," Burnett said Monday.

"No one should be forced to make the desperate choice between paying for insulin or groceries."

Local Rev. Alvin C. Hathaway Sr., pastor of the Union Baptist Church, told the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen that "every Baltimore resident deserves healthcare whenever they need it."

"No one should be forced to make the desperate choice between paying for insulin or groceries," Hathaway added. "It's time to join every other developed nation in making healthcare a guaranteed human right."

According to U.S. Census Bureau figures cited by Public Citizen, more than 1 in 5 Baltimore residents live in poverty, with 6.7% of residents under age 65 uninsured.

The Baltimore City Health Department published a report in 2020 that said, in part:

It is impossible to discuss the health and well-being of Baltimore City's residents without applying the lens of health equity and systemic disparities. While the overall mortality rate in Baltimore City has declined over the past decade, the city still has a mortality rate nearly 30% higher than the rest of the state, and ranks last on key health outcomes compared to other jurisdictions in Maryland.

This reality is compounded by a series of complicated systemic social, political, economic, and environmental obstacles. With more than 1 in 3 of Baltimore's children below the federal poverty line and more than 30% of Baltimore households earning less than $25,000 per year, income, poverty, and race have an enormous impact on health outcomes.

Jean Ross, president of National Nurses United, said that "every day, we nurses see the human cost of our patients delaying care or going without care, simply because they can't afford it, and that's why we need Medicare for All."

"We're grateful to the city of Baltimore for joining more than 100 other cities around the country in passing a resolution in support of Medicare for All," Ross added. "The grassroots movement to guarantee healthcare to all in the United States is growing every day."

Earlier this year, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) joined Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) in reintroducing Medicare for All legislation.

"The American people understand, as I do, that healthcare is a human right, not a privilege," Sanders said at the time. "As we speak, there are millions of people who would like to go to a doctor but cannot afford to do so. That is an outrage."

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