FAYETTEVILLE, WV (WOAY) – The grassroots Medicare for All movement will ramp up like never before Feb. 9-13, during the Medicare for All Week of Action, as volunteers across the U.S. host 150 Medicare for All “barnstorm” mass organizing meetings to kickstart canvassing and grassroots lobbying in local communities throughout the country.
Fayette Fair Share and Political Revolution WV joined forces to organize the first Medicare For All organizing meeting in WV. The event will be Sunday Feb 10 from 4 – 6 PM at The Grove in Fayetteville. “Our communities are suffering due to the greed of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. Thousands of West Virginians that work over 40 hours a week either have no insurance, or co-pays and deductibles that make the decision to go to the doctor a difficult, financial decision. Our people, including seniors and disabled, struggle with the exorbitant prices of prescription medication. Just this week we learned that a drug that was free is now going to cost $375,000 a year for the people who need it. Who can afford that?”, stated Selina Vickers, organizer for this event. “We have doctors, social workers, teachers, moms, dads, students – all coming to our barnstorm because they understand the need for Medicare For All”.
A barnstorm is an organizing and planning meeting. People who actively want to work to make Medicare For All a reality will receive information, tools and resources, as well as meet other volunteers willing to work for this cause. There is no experience needed to volunteer.
The United States spends more on healthcare than any other wealthy nation, yet has much poorer health outcomes. People in the United States die of preventable diseases because they can’t afford to go to the doctor or buy the prescribed medication. Medicare For All would save people money by paying a smaller amount in taxes than what they pay for their insurance premiums, deductibles and co-pays combined. The introduced Medicare For All Act supports care that would be free at the point of service (already paid for through taxes) for healthcare, prescription medication, vision, dental and long term care services.
A recent Reuters-Ipsos poll showed 70 percent of respondents support Medicare for All. According to nurses, ground support has been unprecedented, with volunteers knocking on doors, crowd canvassing, and phone banking—identifying tens of thousands of Medicare for All supporters, from August 2017 through September 2018 alone.
Bonnie Castillo, RN, executive director of National Nurses United (NNU), sponsor of the Medicare for All week of action stated, “The barnstorms are about harnessing that momentum and continuing to build it out even further, into every community, conversation by conversation, neighbor by neighbor—until the people’s will for Medicare for All becomes the political will to get it done.”
What: Fayetteville Medicare for All barnstorm
When: Sunday February 10 from 4pm – 6pm
Where: The Grove, 103 Keller Ave, Fayetteville, WV
See map of 150 U.S. locations at: medicare4all.org/actions
With the impending introduction of Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s new House bill, The Medicare For All Act of 2019, nurses and activists say the barnstorms will focus on organizing to knock on doors, make phone calls to and otherwise rally the American public to lobby representatives for the bill’s passage.
“Profiting off sick people is sick,” said Briana Moss, whose fight to maintain insulin for her Type I diabetes inspired her to host the Dubuque, Iowa barnstorm. “I know people with diabetes literally dying because they cannot afford their insulin. My grandparents are too scared to retire. Having health care tied to your occupation holds everybody back. In what should be the greatest country in the world, there’s no excuse for this.”
Allentown, Pa. barnstorm host Emily Hibshman, 25, says she is fighting for a future in which young people can fulfill their potential, rather than basing life decisions around aging out of family insurance at 26. She says she is committed to holding elected officials accountable.
“I want people who support incremental change in the existing system to think about who will be hurt by continuing to do that,” said Hibshman. “Any politician worth their salt needs to get behind Medicare for All. People want it. If you’re not behind it, you need to get out of office.”
Nurses say they have been blown away by the massive response to the call for barnstorm events, and are heartened to see everyday people stepping up and joining the movement.
“The health care and insurance industries may be able to buy politicians and the media, but they will never be as persuasive as our thousands of volunteers,” said NNU Co-president Jean Ross, RN. “We’re going to put intense pressure on Congress members to sign on as cosponsors of the Medicare for All Act of 2019 and for key House committee members to bring the legislation to hearings. In honor of our patients who have paid the ultimate price in this deadly system, we know we can’t wait any longer – and together, with all of the working people and allies standing up this week and beyond, we will see that Medicare for All makes it across the finish line.”