Poor People's Campaign Demands End to Poverty, Lack of Healthcare

Activists rally in NC for higher wages, anti-poverty relief | Raleigh News & Observer

                                                               Photo Credit: Spectrum News

https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article251958438.html 

Activists and supporters from progressive groups held a rally in downtown Raleigh Monday, demanding that North Carolina’s members of the U.S. House sign onto a resolution calling on Congress to enact a series of progressive priorities aimed at cutting poverty nationwide.

The crowd of approximately 70 people gathered at Nash Square around noon, where a handful of speakers talked about the need to urgently address issues like stagnating wages, high health care costs and systemic racism. In front of a backdrop of supporters holding signs declaring “healthcare is a human right” and “denying healthcare is violence,” the speakers called on North Carolina’s congressional delegation to support their movement for a “Third Reconstruction” to uplift impoverished Americans.

The civil rights movement is sometimes referred to as a second Reconstruction, with parallels to the original post-slavery Reconstruction in which the federal government tried to force the South to provide equality for Black Americans.

“Poverty and low wealth is a policy choice,” said Ana Ilarraza-Blackburn, one of the chairs of the North Carolina Poor People’s Campaign. “And when our representatives do not speak in policy about the 140 million poor and low-wage people suffering, and keeping them [marginalized], it is time that we say, ‘Basta.’ ‘Enough.’”

Other speakers invoked their personal experiences with struggling to pay for the high cost of health care. Pashondra James of Fuquay-Varina said she suffers from a rare disorder that affects her joints and heart, and which is treated by medication that costs her $786 per month.

“Who can afford that? We need Medicare for All,” she said. “Everybody has the right to see the doctors that we need.”

The Rev. William Barber II of Goldsboro, who led “Moral Monday” protests at the legislature in Raleigh, also co-founded the national Poor People’s Campaign — a relaunching of a project led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. just before his death, The News & Observer previously reported.

Later this month, the national Poor People’s Campaign will hold a follow-up rally in Raleigh that will feature Barber. That gathering, at Halifax Mall on June 21 at 5:30 p.m., will launch a yearlong campaign leading up to a march on Washington in June 2022.

After hearing from a few other speakers on Monday, the group of activists marched to the nearby office of Rep. Deborah Ross, a first-term Democrat representing Wake County, to urge her to support the resolution. H. Res. 438 was introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee, a California Democrat, late last month.

The wide-ranging resolution calls on Congress to implement a federal jobs guarantee and raise the federal minimum wage “to a living wage,” enact universal health care, and provide borrowers with relief from student, household, and other forms of debt. It currently has 30 cosponsors, just one of whom, Rep. Alma Adams, a Democrat from Charlotte, is from North Carolina.


NCM4A Signs Letter to Dr. Fauci on Ending Medical Apartheid

Our struggles are interconnected. NCM4A stands in solidarity with all oppressed and marginalized people who are denied health care, and is a co-signer of the letter detailed below.

By: Frances S. Hasso

The Invest in Justice Coalition has asked organizations to sign a letter to Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, at the National Institutes of Health, to take a stand against Medical Apartheid. Read the full letter at www.freedomfuture.org/Fauci.

(Image description:)

The Movement Tells Dr. Fauci: Speak Out on Medical Apartheid:

1. ***Demand the right to healthcare for the Palestinian people:*** Publicly affirm the human rights community’s consensus that Israel is obligated to vaccinate Palestinians as an occupied population under international law.

2. ***Refuse complicity with Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people:*** Reject the prize! Accepting the Dan David Prize serves to legitimize Israel’s refusal to vaccinate Palestinians despite its international obligation to do so as the occupying power.

3. ***Advocate for racially just health policies in the U.S. and everywhere:*** Make vaccine apartheid policies unacceptable anywhere by supporting racially just U.S. health policies in the M4BL COVID-19 Policy Platform [Movement for Black Lives] and specifically: single-payer healthcare, the Anti-Racism in Public Health Act, and the vaccine TRIPS waiver.

Image of check point between Israel and Palestine.One hundred countries are currently fighting the United States, which dominates the World Trade Organization, for a TRIPs (Trade Related Aspects of International Property Rights) Waiver that would allow them to produce anti-CoVid-19 vaccines using patented formulas currently controlled by Western corporations. Similar years-long battles occurred for access to HIV/AIDS and other treatments. Such a waiver will not address the situation of Palestinians colonized by Israel.

Too often we Americans (USians) have little idea how much damage we do in the world as an empire (with over 800 military bases in 80 countries) and how our fates (including lack of universal health care) are connected to investing in such damage. 

 

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"Everybody In" Greensboro LTE

Letter to the Editor, Published in the Greensboro New and Record
March 28, 2021


General Motors (GM) has a new ad campaign to promote a zero emissions future. Its televised version ends with the words “Everybody In” lighting up the screen. That’s a slogan that works for more than GM. It’s a good one for the future of health care.

In health care debates, “Everybody In” describes Improved Medicare for All. This is the reform also known as single payer, universal insurance coverage. It would grant access to every American, regardless of age, income, or employment. More Americans will be covered at lower cost to taxpayers, concluded the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office in a recent analysis.

An Improved Medicare for All bill, HR 1976, was introduced in Congress last week. Coauthor, Rep. Debbie Dingell, a self-described Michigan “car girl”, cited her passion to protect fair playing fields for American manufacturing as a rationale for Medicare for All. We’re competing in a global marketplace against companies not paying for expensive employer-based insurance, she said.

Access and economics. “Everybody In” is just the right health care future to imagine. To make that become our reality, email Rep. Kathy Manning and ask her to hop on board with a car girl Rep. Dingell, by signing up as a sponsor of H.R. 1976.

Robin Lane, RN, PNP, MPH
Greensboro


2021-03-07 Mission Hospital Fails OpEd

Mission Hospital fails Asheville’s freelancers, artists and families on Medicare For All

Asheville Citizen Times OpEd

Jenny Andry and Andrew Paul Guest columnists 

Mission Hospital and its associated clinics are where most of us in Asheville go when we’re sick, injured, or need preventative care. And you’d think that Mission would be happy if more of us would enter their doors and seek their services when we need medical help.

So why is Mission giving support to a big money lobbying group that fights tooth and nail against expanding the ability to get medical assistance to more people?

Mission’s parent company, HCA, is a member of a group called the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, or PAHCF. This coalition of big business has one objective: to prevent Medicare For All from becoming a reality. The sick truth is that Mission, HCA, and PAHCF don’t want you to be able to get well. They would rather that you not be able to afford health care.

Medicare For All (M4A) is a vision for healthcare that will put the United States on par with the rest of the industrialized world, instead of having some of the worst health outcomes of any comparable nations. M4A would not put Mission, or any other hospital, clinic, or independent physician or special-ist, out of business. Medicare For All only eliminates the middleman, the insurance company. Under M4A, Mission would likely see an increase in patients; anyone could go to Mission Hospital or its associated clinics.

We say “anyone” because Medicare For All would eliminate the barriers to seeking care that still affect countless Americans. Even among those that hold insurance, millions are underinsured, which means that deductibles and outof- pocket costs are too high to use whatever policy they have.

M4A would eliminate premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and bills, for all necessary medical and preventative care, and that would include dental, mental, vision, and reproductive health, too. No one would be too poor to get help, and no one would go into poverty because of illness – unlike today, where medical bills are the prime cause for bankruptcy filings.

We can only speculate as to why Mission Hospital (HCA) has decided to spend money that it earns from treating our city’s residents by handing it over to a group dedicated to keeping our community unwell. One reason that Mission and HCA oppose Medicare For All might be that under a “single-payer system,” HCA would no longer be able to pit insurance companies against one another. This is one of the reasons that costs for care are so high in this country. If the government becomes the lone payer for most health services, it will be a powerful check against the greed of hospital CEOs as well as drug companies and medical supply manufacturers.

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Medicare for All Progress in 2020

The Fight for Medicare for All Made Some Important Progress in 2020

The fight for Medicare for All is one of the most important in the United States today. And despite the many horrors of 2020, the movement demanding an end to our privatized health system actually made some headway this year.

With a national death toll quickly approaching 350,000, the need for a universal, single-payer health care system has never been more urgent.

As 2020 comes to a close, we are no closer to winning a national health program in the United States than we were before COVID-19 struck, even amidst so much physical and financial suffering. But it would be a mistake to discount the entire year as a total loss.

Despite immense challenges and setbacks, there were moments during 2020 that offered hope in the movement for Medicare for All. Here are some of the highlights of both.

Coronavirus Pandemic

Much has been written about how the coronavirus pandemic laid bare the fact that everyone, even those fortunate enough to have health insurance, is vulnerable to sickness and death under our cruel and disjointed health care system. But Medicare for All supporters know, America has been in a perpetual public health crisis for more than a hundred years.

Even before the pandemic, as many as 250,000 Americans died each year from medical errors alone. As horrific as it is for 14.6 million people to lose their health insurance as a result of widespread job loss, that statistic is dwarfed by the 87 million Americans who already lacked insurance or were underinsured before 2020. Meanwhile, racial health inequalities were exacerbated by COVID-19.

A more important lesson to draw from the pandemic is that public health crises are not inevitable. In contrast to our multitiered system, Medicare for All would provide a single tier of coverage to everyone in the United States, regardless of income, employment status, disability, gender, or immigration status.

Single payer would eliminate financial barriers like exorbitant deductibles and copays, and strengthen our ability to respond to current and future public health crises by ensuring our tax dollars go toward meeting human needs.

A doctor and a nurse review the clinical records of a COVID-19 patient. (Leopoldo Smith / Getty Images)

The pandemic has been a humbling and disappointing experience for Medicare for All advocates who hoped that the catastrophe of COVID-19 would coalesce a movement toward a national health program in the United States. The reality is the pandemic’s devastation and the disastrous response of the Trump administration forced Americans to focus on survival and meeting their material needs.

The reasons that so many Americans are desperate for Medicare for All are clear. How we win transformative health reform comes down to our ability to build on the momentum fomented, in part, by Bernie Sanders’s 2020 presidential campaign to broaden the appeal for Medicare for All and mobilize a mass movement around it.

Workers Claim Their Essential Status

While many people have continued on selflessly as “essential” workers, the designation has been a death sentence for some. The coronavirus doesn’t care if you are a prisoner transporting dead bodies for $2 an hour, a meat packer at a poultry plant, a stocking clerk at a grocery store or a worker at a long-term care facility.

As the pandemic has shown, when workers don’t get the things they need to do their jobs safely, people die. That realization is what prompted workers like Chris Smalls and thousands of others to walk off their jobs or stage protests throughout 2020 — many of them without the protection of organized labor. Smalls and his coworkers organized a strike in March over lack of safety precautions at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island.

“How essential are we if we’re spreading this virus to customers?” Smalls told VICE News in March. “Amazon is a breeding ground for the coronavirus. We’re going to be the second wave. Right now, I’m trying to prevent that.”

Amazon allegedly fired Smalls for taking a stand, but his protest inspired other workers around the country, like Tre Kwon, an ICU nurse, to organize a protest outside her workplace demanding better personal protective equipment (PPE).

Frontline health care workers are particularly vulnerable to contracting the virus because they work so closely with COVID-19 patients. Over fourteen hundred frontline medical workers are estimated to have died from COVID-19 as a result of unsafe working conditions, including a lack of PPE and testing.

In the face of mounting health risks and unbearable workloads, frontline health care workers not only earned the deserving admiration from the public, they have used the attention to speak out.

“We are afraid for our patients,” Kwon said at a demonstration outside of Mount Sinai hospital. “We are afraid for our families. We are afraid for our lives.”

Medical Staff Protest outside of Mount Sinai Hospital on Friday April 3, 2020. (Theodore Parisienne / New York Daily News)

In California’s East Bay, more than three thousand hospital workers went on a five-day strike that forced major concessions from their employer, including the elimination of an unelected Board of Trustees whose perpetual mismanagement, workers claimed, turned deadly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Later, another five thousand workers in Chicago rallied against their bosses over unsafe staffing levels and poverty wages.

The words and, more importantly, the actions of workers like Smalls and Kwon underscore the connection between workers’ safety and the public at large. Those links will have spread long after the pandemic is over if we ever hope to win a national health program.

Physician Groups Buck the Status Quo

The year started off on a promising note with the release in January of a position paper in support of single-payer health care published by the American College of Physicians (ACP), the country’s largest specialty society with 159,000 members.

“For a century, most U.S. medical organizations opposed national health insurance,” wrote Dr Steffie Woolhandler and Dr David Himmelstein, cofounders of Physicians for a National Health Program. “The endorsement of the American College of Physicians of single payer reform marks a sea change from this unfortunate tradition.”

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Locals gather, share woes of current American healthcare system at 'Bill Burn' rally

Locals gather, share woes of current American healthcare system at 'Bill Burn' rally | WLOS

Photo credit: WLOS StaffASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — Medical bills and claim denials were thrown into the fire Saturday, Dec. 12, in West Asheville Park.

Locals gather, share woes of current American healthcare system at 'Bill Burn' rally. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

“It’s very personal for me,” Elsa Enstrom said.

She attended the "Bill Burn" rally, in support of Medicare for All, to show her support for changing America’s healthcare system.She called herself one of the lucky ones, because she has health insurance through her job, but she said someone close to her does not.

“My boyfriend has been uninsured since he turned 18, and he works his butt off, and he can’t even afford insurance through the Affordable Care Act,” Enstrom said.

Attendees at the Saturday, Dec. 12, "Bill Burn" event supporting Medicare for All shared stories about their interactions with the current healthcare system, followed by a symbolic act of throwing receipts, bills, claims denials and other documents into small fires at West Asheville Park's grills.                                                                                                          

Several others shared similar stories about themselves or loved ones who could not afford to pay off medical bills related to dental work, mental health and even cancer treatment.

“There is a health crisis in North Carolina and across the country right now where millions of people are uninsured and even more are underinsured, which means even though they have insurance on paper, they still can’t afford to get the care and prescription drugs that they need,” Asheville Democratic Socialists of America Andy Paul said.

Attendees at the Saturday, Dec. 12, "Bill Burn" event supporting Medicare for All shared stories about their interactions with the current healthcare system, followed by a symbolic act of throwing receipts, bills, claims denials and other documents into small fires at West Asheville Park's grills. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

Paul is part of the North Carolina Medicare for All coalition (NCM4A).

He said NCM4A organized the rally out of support for not only Medicare, but all bills that Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Pamila Jayapal introduced in the House and Senate last year.

They are pushing for no medical bills, no copays and no deductibles.

“We spend more money than any other country in the developed world, and yet we have some of the worst health outcomes of any industrialized nation,” Paul said.

Enstrom said until healthcare becomes obtainable for everyone, Americans will continue to feel the same anxiety she feels for her boyfriend’s health.

“Who knows what is going on with his body. He hasn’t been to the doctors in 10 years,” Enstrom said.

Many who attended the rally wrote post cards that will be sent to senators and local representatives.

The Asheville rally was one of three "bill burn" events that the N.C. Medicare for All coalition (NCM4A) has organized throughout the state.

 


Replay: NCM4A's Emergency Human Rights Day Press Event for Medicare for All

On Thursday, December 10, a grassroots coalition of frontline workers, including physicians and city workers, along with human rights advocates from around North Carolina held an emergency press conference at the N.C. General Assembly in light of the staggering increase in COVID-19 infections in the United States as the national death toll approaches 300,000. December 10 also marks the 72nd anniversary of the signing of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. In the midst of the worsening coronavirus pandemic with one person dying every minute in the U.S. from COVID-19, International Human Rights Day is an opportune time to highlight the intrinsic value of every person and the tragic results of denying people their basic human rights, including rights in the workplace, the right to economic security from unemployment and deprivation and the right to healthcare.

Watch the full #HumanRightsDay press event replay:

 


NCM4A Observes International Human Rights Day as North Carolinians Struggle Without Care

NCM4A Observes International Human Rights Day as North Carolinians Struggle Without Care

Citing popular support for universal healthcare and NC’s high uninsured rate, the newly formed healthcare coalition plans actions around International Human Rights Day

Our state is in the midst of a dire healthcare crisis. The surging COVID-19 pandemic is compounding the existing healthcare disparities in North Carolina and beyond. NCM4A (the North Carolina Medicare for All coalition), a statewide organization representing dozens of member organizations and thousands of supporters, will hold public events to mark International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2022, and address the continuing health care crisis millions face in North Carolina.

Events include:

  • Thursday, December 10, 10:30 a.m. press conference outside the N.C. General Assembly (16 W. Jones St., Raleigh).
    • Speakers include Jonathan Michaels, healthcare professional; Rohima Miah, mental health care professional; Christine Pernell, NC Council of Churches; Faisal Khan, Carolina Peace Center; Lurika Wynn, National Domestic Workers Alliance; James Moore, Durham DSA
  • December 12 “Bill Burn” Community Bonfires in Asheville, Durham, and Charlotte, which will observe Covid-19 safety precautions. Check https://facebook.com/ncm4a/events for detailed info on these gatherings.

Speakers will address the difficulties they and their patients face accessing healthcare in the U.S. Lack of healthcare access is a direct violation of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that: "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including...medical care and necessary social services.”

Dominic Harris, a util­i­ty tech­ni­cian and pres­i­dent of the Char­lotte City Work­ers Union, chapter of UE Local 150, said, “While COVID-19 is causing pay cuts and job losses, insurance companies are making billions off of our pain and suffering. Medicare for All is a cheaper and better way of doing insurance in America.”

As we observe the right of every human being to medical care without prohibitive costs or overwhelming debt, we call attention to the more than 45,000 Americans who die annually because they cannot afford healthcare. In addition to nearly 90 million uninsured Americans, millions of people with health insurance find that their coverage is too expensive to use. Americans owed $88 billion in medical debt in 2018, and medical bills are the leading cause of personal bankruptcy despite the Affordable Care Act.

In North Carolina alone, an estimated 257,000 residents lost their health insurance and jobs during the first six months of the Covid-19 pandemic. With more than 1.1 million N.C. residents already uninsured at the start of the pandemic, Covid-related job losses increased our state’s uninsured rate to 20 percent for people under age 65. People of color are disproportionately impacted, accounting for 54 percent of North Carolina’s uninsured while making up only 37 percent of the population.

Fortunately, Improved Medicare for All is a comprehensive solution and studies show it will cost less in the long term. Medicare for All is also a winning issue. In poll after poll, the majority of Americans have declared their preference for a universal, government-administered healthcare system. A 2020 Morning Consult poll pegs support for Medicare for All at 55 percent of voters nationally, while a 2020 Fox News exit poll found support as high as 72 percent of all voters.

Despite the fear-mongering, we believe Medicare for All represents true freedom -- to change jobs, start a business, ensure the health of loved ones, and live a life free from medical debt. In this critical moment at the dawn of the Biden-Harris administration, the North Carolina Medicare for All Coalition won’t relent until the dignity of every individual is recognized by providing truly universal healthcare through Improved Medicare for All. 

Join us at our live press conference December 10 in Raleigh and at the Bill Burn Bonfires in Asheville, Charlotte, and Durham on Dec 12 to listen to speakers and take collective action.

 


NCM4A Advances Medicare for All Demand with Human Rights Day-Related ‘Bill Burns’

N.C. Healthcare coalition plans multiple public events to reassert healthcare as a human right.

Our communities have an urgent need for healthcare relief and the North Carolina Medicare for All (NCM4A) coalition believes it's necessary to mobilize now to achieve the health justice we desperately need. As some of us are forced to make hard choices about the coverage we can afford during open enrollment, too many others remain totally locked out. We believe we all deserve better than a corrupt, profit-driven health system and an administration that seeks to uphold the status quo.

This moment in history demands systemic change. Expanded and Improved Medicare for All, a single-payer healthcare system, is within our grasp. To work toward this end, NCM4A will hold public events to reassert healthcare as a human right and mark International Human Rights Day. On December 12, the coalition plans 'NC Bill Burn' events in Asheville, Durham, and Charlotte, which will observe COVID-19 safety precautions.

The Durham Bill Burn event will be held from 4:30pm-6:00pm at SEEDS (706 Gilbert St, Durham, NC 27701), where we will invite people to share their story about struggling with medical bills and symbolically burn their paper bills in a community- and power-building event. The group will encourage donations to local mutual aid groups, including Bull City Mutual Aid and the Fed Up food distribution program led by NC Raise Up and NC Poor People’s Campaign. Click on the link to find info on the Charlotte Bill Burn (12/10 at 6pm) and the Asheville Bill Burn (12/10 at 6:30pm).

(We recommend these guidelines to stay safe when participating in this event: https://bit.ly/NCBillBurnSafety)

Leading up to the Bill Burn events, the NC Medicare for All Coalition will also be co-hosting an Emergency Press Conference on Thursday, December 10 in front of the N.C. General Assembly to address the worsening COVID-19 crisis and advance demands for Medicare for All, as well as health and safety protections and union rights for essential workers.

The surging global pandemic is compounding the existing healthcare disparities in North Carolina and beyond. We will not stand idly by while our country’s unaffordable private health insurance system degrades and bankrupts people and their families. Americans owed $88 billion in medical debt in 2018, and nearly half (45%) of people surveyed said they feared a medical event would bankrupt them. More than 45,000 Americans die annually because they cannot afford healthcare. Around 90 million Americans are uninsured or underinsured, while millions of people with employer-based health insurance are burdened by ever-increasing premiums, deductibles, and co-payments, often making their coverage too expensive to use. 

Despite the fear-mongering, we believe Medicare for All represents true freedom -- to change jobs, start a business, ensure the health of loved ones, and live a life free from medical debt. In this critical moment at the dawn of the Biden-Harris administration, the North Carolina Medicare for All Coalition won’t relent until the dignity of every individual is recognized by providing truly universal healthcare through Improved Medicare for All.

COVID Precautions: The hosts at this bill burn bonfire will enforce Covid-safety precautions, including masks worn by all individuals (including when speaking) and the number of guests around the fire will be restricted to ensure social distancing guidelines, with markers on the ground to serve as a guide. Extra masks and sanitizer will be available for guests. We are encouraging people to drop-in to the event to share their story and some time around the fire, then rotate out to allow more people to join.

About the NCM4A Coalition: Comprised of more than 30 organizations and grassroots groups in North Carolina, the NC Medicare for All Coalition is uniting people across the state to pass comprehensive, single-payer, improved Medicare for All. We are mobilizing North Carolinians and pressuring our representatives to ensure that all our communities have equitable access to quality healthcare.


Statewide Healthcare Coalition to Hold Emergency Human Rights Day Press Event

Emergency Press Conference On Human Rights Day to Address the Worsening COVID-19 Crisis and to Demand Medicare for All

SPEAKERS TO INCLUDE MEDICAL PROVIDERS, ESSENTIAL WORKERS, FAITH LEADERS AND HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATES

This Dec 10 press conference was initiated by the North Carolina Medicare for All Coalition, including Health Care for All N.C. and the Southern Workers Assembly. (Click for Facebook event) (Click for press release published on Common Dreams website)

Raleigh, NC – On Thursday, December 10, a grassroots coalition of frontline workers, including physicians and city workers, along with human rights advocates from around North Carolina will hold an emergency press conference at the N.C. General Assembly in light of the staggering increase in COVID-19 infections in the United States as the national death toll approaches 300,000.

December 10 also marks the 72nd anniversary of the signing of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. In the midst of the worsening coronavirus pandemic with one person dying every minute in the U.S. from COVID-19, International Human Rights Day is an opportune time to highlight the intrinsic value of every person and the tragic results of denying people their basic human rights, including rights in the workplace, the right to economic security from unemployment and deprivation and the right to healthcare.

Dr. Uma Tadepalli, a physician and health advocate from Durham, said, "Our healthcare system was a rip off before COVID-19, but now that millions have lost their jobs and their job-sponsored health insurance, it is an utter failure. We're already paying for everyone to have healthcare, and then some, but we haven't been getting it. As a physician, I want people to have the peace of mind that they won't break the bank when they do what they need to take care of themselves.”

Lawmakers’ egregious refusal to guarantee healthcare to all Americans during the coronavirus pandemic not only shows how out of touch they are with their own constituents but constitutes a direct violation of the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including...medical care and necessary social services..."

Despite deep political divisions, most Americans share similar human values. As a Fox News poll recently demonstrated, the majority of people 72 percent regardless of their political affiliation, are united in their desire for a publicly-funded universal healthcare system, more commonly known as Improved and Expanded Medicare for All.

Medicare for All would cover every American regardless of income, occupation, disability, gender or immigration status and eliminate financial barriers like exorbitant deductibles and copays. Medicare for All is how we move away from job-sponsored health insurance that has failed us, and a punishing medical system that enriches the few at the expense of the many.

Dominic Harris, a util­i­ty tech­ni­cian and pres­i­dent of the Char­lotte City Work­ers Union, chapter of UE Local 150, said “We work too hard to turn around and give a bunch of the money we make to people that don't want for anything. While COVID-19 is causing pay cuts and job losses, insurance companies are making billions off of our pain and suffering. Medicare for All is a cheaper and better way of doing insurance in America.”

In addition to revealing the inadequacies of our current healthcare system, COVID-19 also underscores the interdependence of basic human rights and the tragic results of denying these rights. Without essential workers’ human right to “just and favourable conditions of work,” they have been denied access to COVID-19 testing, proper protective equipment (PPE) and physical distancing.

We have seen that as Americans age, they often lose their basic right to safety and security. Though tragic, it’s not surprising that many nursing homes become funeral homes during the pandemic.

In some states, if people with disabilities make more than a certain amount of income per year, they are at risk of losing their Medicaid eligibility. With the pandemic, their very lives are now at risk by the very people who are caring for them – frontline and domestic workers who didn’t have the right to proper testing and safety protocols.

As the number of coronavirus cases surge, our families, friends and neighbors will continue to die, but our healthcare system was a catastrophe even before the pandemic. We don’t only have a common predicament, we have a shared answer: Medicare for All, a healthcare system based on meeting human needs instead of private interests.

Please join us on Thursday, December 10 at 10:00 AM in front of the N.C. General Assembly Building at 16 West Jones Street in Raleigh.

Speakers will address these and other demands and take questions from the press.

As a follow-up action the North Carolina Medicare For All Coalition will be holding a series of Medical Bill Burns in Charlotte, Asheville and Durham where participants will burn their medical bills and share their stories in opposition to our inhumane for-profit health insurance system. 

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A note about COVID-19: The coronavirus pandemic makes this press conference all the more urgent, however, we want to minimize the risk of infection as much as possible so we will follow Gov. Roy Cooper’s Phase 3 Guidelines as outlined by DHHS for outdoor public gatherings. The press conference will be held outdoors not to include more than 50 participants. All participants will be required to wear face masks and remain physically distanced by 6 to 10 feet.

 



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