Unionists, retirees to lead mass pro-Medicare rallies on July 30

Unionists and union retirees will turn out by the thousands from coast to coast on July 30 to celebrate Medicare’s 50th anniversary, and to demand its protection and improvement.

And they also want to use the rallies to again push for “Medicare for all,” namely government-run single-payer national health insurance, says the lead union sponsoring the events, National Nurses United. “Medicare is as American as apple pie,” NNU adds.

The rallies will be in at least 25 cities, with active participation from other unions and from members of the Alliance for Retired Americans, the 4-million-member organization of union and other retirees.

The ad hoc coalition, Medicare Turns 50, plans actions in Chicago, The Twin Cities, El Paso, Lakewood (Cleveland), Ohio, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Oakland, Portland, Maine, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere.

“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,” Kuhl declared.

Besides the rallies, organizers plan public forums, marches, skits, flash mobs and birthday celebration parties, picnics and BBQ’s. In Washington, nurses will lobby legislators to support HR676, the single-payer bill, named the Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act, reintroduced by the senior lawmaker in Congress, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich.

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. The union also backs HR 1200, the American Health Security Act, 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..

“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.”

Photo: Medicare Turns 50.



Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.