Last week was a watershed moment in the long fight for healthcare justice. Senator Bernie Sanders submitted his long-awaited Medicare for All Bill (SB 1804) to the U.S. Senate. He was joined by 16 cosponsors.
The Bill would guarantee healthcare to every American from cradle to grave through an expanded and improved Medicare system and is the Senate companion to the House Bill HR 676, which currently has 119 co-sponsors.
It is no accident that Democratic politicians, including several potential 2020 presidential candidates, are lining up to endorse single-payer Medicare for All. This past summer’s fights against Republican efforts to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act have awoken the sleeping giant. Large sections of the American people have come to the conclusion that they want to do more than just fight to preserve a flawed and inadequate status quo. They want to fight for the right to healthcare. This powerful grassroots upsurge is what is moving the political class to stand up to the medical industrial complex and support real healthcare reform.
Within hours of the release of the bill, a number of major national and regional unions –including APWU, ATU, BMWED/IBT, CSEA, IFPTE, NNU, NYSNA, UE, UMWA and UWUA–made public statements of support. Many more have indicated they will speak out after completing internal endorsement procedures.
Bonnie Castillo of National Nurses United (NNU) said, “We speak our patients’ name, we can’t forget their faces, and we will never stop fighting until they have guaranteed access to healthcare as a human right.”
Utility Workers (UWUA) President Mike Langford, many of whose members were deployed in hurricane recovery operations on the Gulf Coast and Florida, noted that, “Utility workers know how to fix disasters safely and efficiently when provided the right tools. Bernie Sanders’ single-payer Medicare for All bill does just that for our broken healthcare system.”
And IFPTE President Greg Junemann applauded the Bill because “Americans would receive the care their doctors prescribe, rather than the reduced or withheld care allowed by insurance companies. Healthcare is a right not a privilege; and Americans should not be squeezed beneath the thumb of multi-billion-dollar insurance companies who profit by withholding medical care.”
On to the AFL-CIO Convention
The Labor Campaign for Single Payer is proud to be listed by the Intercept as part of Bernie’s Army: 24 Organizations with Millions of Members Vow to Pass His Universal Medicare Plan. Our mission is to work to ensure that the labor movement plays a leading role in the fight to make healthcare a right for everyone in America. We will be asking that the AFL-CIO and other national labor organizations actively support S 1804.
A resolution for this purpose is being circulated for consideration at the upcoming AFL-CIO Convention October 22-24 in St. Louis. National unions affiliated with the AFL-CIO, state labor federations and central labor councils all have the right to submit resolutions to the upcoming convention. However, the deadline for submission is September 22 so unions need to act quickly. A number of national unions have already signed on. Please contact us at organizers@
We will be hosting a single payer briefing at the upcoming AFL-CIO Convention for delegates and guests. It is tentatively scheduled for immediately after the close of the convention session on Monday, October 23. We are awaiting the publication of the convention agenda to confirm time and place but all interested unionists are welcome to attend. We will post details on our website in early October.