Event Recap: The Fight for Medicare for All

On Tuesday, November 28, East Bay DSA hosted The Fight For Medicare For All at the California Nurses Association in Downtown Oakland. Comrades and members of the community filled the CNA auditorium to learn about the single-payer model and what DSA is doing to build power and grow a grassroots movement demanding Medicare For All in California and across the nation

What we are advocating for is a single payer system that aligns with our socialist vision of the future, and for DSA, this means a healthcare system that works for workers, immigrants, women, the poor, and all marginalized communities.

After a chapter update, we heard stories from our members Matt Stephen, a healthcare worker, and Sandy Barnard, a high-risk policyholder in the eyes of the insurance industry. Michael Lighty, Director of Public Policy for National Nurses United, contextualized their stories within a broader discussion of our current corporate model of privatized healthcare – from the staggering amount of administrative waste and bureaucratic red tape, to the $20 million paychecks awarded to insurance CEOs as a reward for profitability (i.e. denying us care). 

Zach McDonald spoke about the importance of our neighborhood canvasses and how, as a chapter, we are building worker solidarity through conversations with our neighbors around the corrupt system that Michael described. Jeremy Gong then spoke about the four pillars of working class politics that underlie the popularity of the various single-payer healthcare bills out there right now, from SB562 in California to Bernie’s Medicare For All senate bill: decommodification, redistribution, solidarity, and class struggle.

People all over the country are starting to understand that certain things should be off limits to the market, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that healthcare should be decommodified. Because the ACA expanded the market and handed over a trillion dollars worth of taxpayer dollars to the private insurance companies through federal subsidies – who then came up with sneaky ways to deny us care through high costs, restricted networks, poor service, and so on – what we’re really talking about is a massive redistribution of wealth from the private sector back into the public. More and more people understand that no one should go without healthcare because of how much money they make or what their immigration status is, and that the only way we will win Medicare For All is if we build upon this growing solidarity to fight the insurance industry and the politicians they support – a vision toward social change that EBDSA canvassers hammer home at door-knocking events each month.

We want a healthcare system that is truly universal and comprehensive. Health, dental, mental, vision, prescription drugs, reproductive healthcare, medical supplies – a single-payer system would cover everything and everyone. And this is not a radical notion. Meagan Day discussed the ways in which this model is implemented in countries around the world. What seems like luxury socialism to some is commonplace in France, Denmark, the Netherlands, and elsewhere. From state-funded postnatal caregiving to vaginal gymnastics classes for new mothers and elder care on a level that is unfathomable here, we learned all the various ways Americans are affected by healthcare austerity. 

East Bay DSA is actively canvassing to eliminate the profit motive from healthcare and to amass support for a single-payer, Medicare-for-All system. If you’re interested in joining us to build socialism at the doorsteps of Oakland, Berkeley, El Cerrito, and Albany (and beyond), please contact info@eastbaydsa.org.