We just won a huge victory in the fight for Medicare For All: the House Ways and Means Committee has announced they will hold, for the first time, hearings on the Medicare For All Act Of 2019, introduced this spring by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT).
Ways and Means plays a decisive role in whether or not Medicare for All advances to the floor for a vote.
Who helped make this happen? You did. People’s Action members from all across the country – nearly a thousand – came to Washington, D.C. this weekend to demand Medicare For All. We took the streets because people – our people – are dying from corporate greed and government complacency. We need solutions to our health care crisis now, not later.
People’s Action hit on all cylinders in D.C. –with rallies, protests and marches, and in committee rooms and offices and on Capitol Hill. Three of our members – Robert Kraig from Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Kristy Fogle from Progressive Maryland and Savanna Lyons from West Virginia Citizen Action Group – were invited by Rep. Jayapal to join the House Rules Committee’s first-ever meeting on Medicare For All on Tuesday.
But first, Rep. Jayapal met with People’s Action. On Monday, she spoke at the plenary of the #PeoplesWave – our national convention of 48 member groups from 30 states. Sen. Sanders joined us too, at our plenary on Tuesday.
This was a homecoming for for Pramila – before coming to Congress, she was a civil rights activist in Seattle and the founding director of OneAmerica, a People’s Action member group.
“This is the kind of energy we need: grassroots organizers, leaders, movement builders, in the streets – making sure we take our country back for working people of every color, for opportunity,” she told us there. “That’s what America should be about – and I can’t wait to see you in the streets!”
We took Pramila at her word: on Monday afternoon, we joined a rally led by National Nurses United in front of the headquarters of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), where People’s Action director George Goehl and Lori Young, a member of People’s Action member group Iowa CCI, both spoke.
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PhRMA has just launched a new anti-Medicare for All lobbying group, the Partnership for America’s Healthcare Future (PAHCF), together with for-profit hospitals and insurers. This group was created specifically to try to kill the momentum of Medicare For All, so corporations can continue to make billions in profits off our broken health care system.
So on Tuesday, we took our message straight to PAHCF: we took over the lobby of their D.C. headquarters.
“We’re here because we’ve had enough,” wrote Goehl and Maria Elena Letona, the board president of People’s Action Institute, in the letter a thousand of our activists delivered to the PAHCF. “We’re calling on PAHCF to immediately cease and desist form all attempts to undermine Medicare For All, and join us in the fight to ensure that health care is a right for everyone.”
After this, we headed to Capitol Hill. After the Rules meeting, Robert, Kristi and Savanna joined leaders from the People’s Action group San Francisco Rising in a meeting with the office of Nancy Pelosi.
And at the same time, People’s Action members held actions in the offices of four lawmakers who stand in the way of Medicare For All, and take money from the PAHCF: Sens. Mitch McConnell (KY) and Susan Collins (ME), Rep. “Dutch” Ruppersberger (MD) and Dan Lipinski (IL).
At the office of McConnell – the Senate majority leader who proudly calls himself “the grim reaper” because of his refusal to advance Medicare For All – six People’s Action members who have been denied care or lost loved ones botched health care were arrested in an act of peaceful civil disobedience.
“McConnell wields his power in the Senate to diminish the checks and balances designed to protect our nation from autocratic rule,” says Adrienne Evans, from United Vision for Idaho, one of the six who were arrested. “He’s determined to take away your health care, and he’s motivated to do whatever it takes to make sure that happens, just so he can demonstrate this power.”
Adrienne is just one of the thousands of People’s Action members who are rising up to demand Medicare For All, because we have had enough. We demand common-sense solutions to our health care crisis. Lives are on the line – our lives.
Your support has been critical in this fight. But it is far from over. The forces working against us are very strong, so we must keep growing our movement. We must continue to rise as the #PeoplesWave: we must make #MedicareforAll a reality!