Registered nurses will join actions in over 25 U.S. cities July 30 to honor Medicare and Medicaid’s 50th anniversary with a National Day of Action celebrating the theme, “Medicare is as American as Apple Pie” – and call on policy makers to protect, improve, and expand Medicare to cover all Americans with a single standard of quality care not based on ability to pay.
The RNs, affiliated with National Nurses United, and an ad hoc coalition, Medicare Turns 50, plan actions in Chicago, El Paso, Tx., Lakewood, Oh., Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Oakland, Portland, Me., St. Paul, Mn., Washington D.C., and other cities, including additional locales to be announced.
“RNs are celebrating the birthday of Medicare because it has a terrific track record of providing quality patient care to millions of elderly and disabled Americans,” said NNU Secretary-Treasurer Martha Kuhl, RN. “There are still far too many people who are uninsured and under insured, or priced out of access to needed care due to cost. Medicare for all is the answer. As nurses, we are committed to expanding and updating Medicare to cover everyone.”
The Medicare Turns 50 coalition includes Physicians for a National Health Program, Alliance for Retired Americans, Campaign for a Healthy California, Healthcare-NOW!, Progressive Democrats of America, Health Care for All Colorado, Healthcare for All Texas, Illinois Single-Payer Coalition and Public Citizen among others.
Planned actions include public forums, rallies, marches, skits, flash mobs and birthday celebration parties, picnics and BBQ’s. In Washington DC nurses will lobby legislators to support HR676, the Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act. This bill would create a publicly financed, privately delivered health care system that improves and expands the already existing Medicare program to all U.S. residents, and all residents living in U.S. territories.
NNU also supports HR 1200, the American Health Security Act of 2015, a state-based single-payer bill, introduced by Rep. Jim McDermott.
Organizers say the actions will underscore the need to expand access to health care in the U.S. since, despite passage of the Affordable Care Act, millions of residents continue to go without adequate care. Twenty-one states have refused to expand Medicaid coverage to eligible patients and members of Congress, such as U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, continue to push for reductions in Medicare with proposals to increase the eligibility age, eliminate providers and turn Medicare into a voucher program.
“After 50 years, we have a lot of experience with Medicare, enough time to see that it works, has kept tens of millions of Americans out of poverty, and remains enormously popular,” said NNU Co-President Jean Ross, RN.
“Schemes to privatize or erode Medicare would be devastating for many, many people. The best way to protect Medicare is to upgrade it and expand it to cover everyone. It is time for this country to catch up with other nations and implement a universal system of guaranteed healthcare,” Ross said.
Photo: National Nurses United