Everybody In, Nobody Out
In defense of our right to healthcare and call for a single-payer system
‘Everybody in, nobody out’
In Boston, a call for health care and decency
Pamphlets and petitions scattered to the wind on a mild early-spring day in Boston, where over a hundred activists assembled in front of the Massachusetts State House, demanding guaranteed health care for every American man, woman and child at the Rally to Take Back Health on Saturday.
“You can call it Medicare for all, you can call it single payer, you can call it whatever works for you politically,” said Joia Mukherjee, Chief Medical Officer at Partners in Health and universal health care advocate, “but what it is is a right.”
Speakers with diverse backgrounds, from doctors to activists to politicians and plenty of crossover, took to the megaphone, espousing the need for true universal health care, a temporary defense of the Affordable Care Act and a condemnation of American Health Care Act (also known as Trumpcare, Ryancare, Tryancare or just a dangerous and unpopular idea). One speaker included newly-elected state rep Mike Connolly of Cambridge-Somerville. A “Berniecrat” endorsed by Our Revolution, Connolly is one of the most progressive members of the Bay State legislature and a staunch advocate of a single-payer system.
“We’re the state of the American Revolution,” Connolly told the Massachusetts crowd. “We were at the heart of Constitution, the heart of the abolition movement. We led the way with labor unions and workers’ rights. It’s time to lead the way with health care.”
“We’re here today because we need single-payer health care,” Connolly said. The congressman went on to point out the clear flaws of the American health system: that as life expectancy goes down among certain groups of Americans, health costs go up, that fewer people are insured for a greater cost to society, and that some people in dire situations resort to Go Fund Me campaigns to afford to survive, “a shame on our nation,” according to Connolly.
Passerbys honked horns in solidarity, young people leaned out of Duck Boat windows to give approving thumbs up. Speakers played on the popularity of a universal healthcare system, and the disparity between its support among Democratic politicians and normal people. (Most polls conclude that about 60 percent of the country, including conservatives, support a single-payer system, while less than half of elected Democratic officials support anything more than the ACA. “This is why Democrats are good at winning focus groups, but bad at winning elections,” one speaker said.)
Rand Wilson, a communication director with the SEIU and a Bernie Sanders delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia called on single-payer insurance advocates to pressure the Massachusetts Federal delegation — all liberals — into support a Medicare for all bill which Sanders plans to bring to the Congress floor in a matter of weeks. (Just three of the Bay State’s nine House reps openly support a Medicare for all system, while neither senator, including progressive champion Elizabeth Warren, have endorsed the idea.)
“Call ’em up, call ’em out,” Wilson said.
Chants of “everybody in, nobody out” served as a motif to the event, which was organized by Take Back Health, Mass-Care, Healthcare Now!, PNHP-MA, BUSM SNaHP, Harvard Medicine Indivisible, and Right Care Boston. Also supporting the effort were the Democratic Socialists of America, Socialist Alternative and Food For Activists. Part of the larger-scale National Day of Action for Improved Medicare for All, rallies like the one in Boston were held all over the country on Saturday.
“There is something extremely neglected in the United States when it comes to human rights,” Mukherjee said. “Human rights has two goals: one is what we’re doing here, organizing and demanding our rights…The other poll of human rights is that government are required to respect, protect and to fulfill human rights.”
“We have to organize, and we have to do that across this city and across this country,” said Vikas Saini of Right Care Alliance. “That’s the only way we’re gonna get the health care that we need. And what is that? Universal coverage! Everybody in, nobody out.”