Sanders has pushed Medicare for all for years and intends to reintroduce it “soon,” he said. It has virtually no chance in the Republican-run 114th Congress, which has taken more than 50 votes trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, instead.
“Health care is a right, not a privilege,” Sanders told the crowd of several hundred people – unionists and retirees -- gathered just north of the Capitol. Other rallies, from coast to coast, drew thousands more. “When you’re sick, you should go to the doctor,” without worrying about how to pay, the senator, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, said. “When you go to the hospital, you should not come out in bankruptcy.” Medicare has ended such outcomes for the elderly, he said. Medicare for all would do so for the entire country, he declared, to cheers.
“Our goal is everybody is in and nobody is out” on health care, added NNU Co-President Karen Higgins, a registered nurse from Massachusetts.
Those same lines from Sanders, the day before at the AFL-CIO Executive Council meeting in the D.C. suburbs, drew a standing ovation, NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro reported. And the council added single-payer to labor’s comprehensive “Raising Wages” economic platform, which will also be the yardstick it uses to judge all political hopefuls next year.
Fine urged the crowd to lobby to expand Medicare. “There would be no Medicare without the labor movement,” he told the group, which included active members and retirees from the Communications Workers, The Newspaper Guild, the Letter Carriers, the Amalgamated Transit Union, the Steelworkers (SOAR), the Teachers and the Steelworkers.
- Press Associates, Inc.; photos by Rick Reinhard