It’s been 9 months since Bernie Sanders - flanked by a dozen Democrats - officially announced his Medicare for All bill. Though numerous political fires are all raging at once these days, the single-payer movement is alive and well and still building steam.
Last week, medical professionals, politicians, activists and leaders of the Medicare for All movement held their annual Single-Payer Strategy Conference in Minnesota. The conference, jointly sponsored by the Labor Campaign for Single Payer and Healthcare NOW!, aimed to construct a national campaign to make Medicare for All a reality by building momentum through the 2020 elections.
If you’re interested, you can watch some of the conference on the Social Security Works Facebook page via their posts from June twenty second to the twenty-forth.
Although this conference helped shape the launch of a national campaign, that campaign will be executed on the ground locally. And that means you can help by taking the time now to get engaged with your local organizations fighting for single-payer.
Go to Healthcare-now.org and click “Join a local action group” under the Action tab. There you will find a state-by-state list of local organizations working for single-payer healthcare across the country. You may even find that your state is in need of a local advocacy group, in which case, consider being the founding member. We are going to need 50 state coverage to win this.
And, of course, continue to put pressure on members of congress to sign on as co-sponsors to the Medicare for All Act in the House and Senate. If they haven’t seen the writing on the wall yet, come the midterms this November they certainly will.
So, if making Medicare for All a reality as soon as possible is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Joining Your Local Single-Payer Advocacy Group via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.
Honored to give the keynote speech @HCNow to a bunch of activists/heroes fighting for the *only* solution that will guarantee access to health care and bring down costs to what the rest of the developed world pays: #SinglePayer #Medicare4All pic.twitter.com/HW0sCRYE1V— Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) June 25, 2018
CALL/WRITE/TWEET your members of congress to push them to publicly support the Medicare for All Act before the Midterms:
The Midterm Elections and Medicare For All (Healthcare NOW!)
Why So Many Democrats Are Embracing Single-Payer Health Care (The Atlantic)
Posted June 26, 2018; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman
Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1192: Fighting for Single Payer and against our neoliberal health system
First they came for the immigrants…
The news that children of asylum seekers are being forcibly taken away from their parents by ICE and Border Patrol and then kept in warehouse-style detainment centers around the country sparked an immediate outcry and public demonstrations.
Leading that movement is We Belong Together, a coalition of human rights, civil rights, immigrant rights and women’s rights organizations, which held demonstrations in early June under the banner “Families Belong Together.” They are calling for the end of Trump’s family separation policy and to defund Border Patrol and ICE, and you can find their petition, sharable graphics and protest posters for download at familiesbelongtogether.org.
We now know a little bit more about the treatment of these immigrants. After Senator Jeff Merkely's visit to a facility in Texas, he described children in “dog kennel-style cages, people crowded in with nothing but a space blanket.” Representative Pramila Jayapal met with immigrant women at a federal prison facility in Seattle whose children were taken away at the southern border. They described how agents used excuses, like a photograph or bath, to calmly take their child away. But the child was never returned. Some could hear their children screaming for them from the next room. The mothers are being prosecuted in criminal courts, not immigration courts, before they’ve had their asylum hearings. Many plead guilty to border crossing not fully aware that they now have a criminal record, disqualifying them for asylum - which is, of course, the whole idea.
While we’ve heard crickets from Republicans, Democrats do seem to be mobilizing quickly. Representative Jayapal is leading 108 of her fellow Representatives to demand that Congress stop Department of Homeland Security budget funds from being used for separation practices. In the Senate, California Senator Diane Feinstein and 31 other Senators have introduced the “Keep Families Together Act,” which prohibits any agency form separating children from families, unless it is a case of abuse, trafficking, or neglect. The bill was developed with input from child welfare experts and it’s sponsored by organizations including the Children’s Law Center, the Young Center for Immigrant Rights, and Kids in Need of Defense. That also happens to be a short list of organizations that could really use your financial support right now as they hire lawyers and counselors to help these detained children and reunite them with their families.
In the House, Representative Lucile Royal-Allard of California has introduced two different bills. The first is the renewed Help Separated Families Act of 2018, which aims to protect the parental rights of all immigrant parents, no matter their status, and ensures they have the right resources to try to place their children with family members or other caretakers while they are detained. The second bill is the HELP Separated Children Act, which aims to give certain legal protections to immigrant children separated from their families, allowing detained parents to participate in the family court system and ensuring that parents and children can still visit and contact each other while the parent is detained.
So, call your members of congress today to throw your support behind these bills. And of course, if you live in a red state, your persistent calls, emails, tweets, etcetera, are all the more important.
If keeping families together and protecting basic human rights is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Telling Congress to END Family Separation via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.
Since October, Trump has separated more than 1300 immigrant children from their parents. Come out this Thursday June 14 to say #FamiliesBelongTogether! Find an event close to you: https://t.co/6GPoqsOAjy @familiesbelong pic.twitter.com/xzic9TZulF— We Belong Together (@WomenBelong) June 12, 2018
Get involved with familiesbelongtogether.org & follow @womenbelong
Tell Congress to #AbolishICE & pass:
Give to organizations like:
Keep Families Together Act (Feinstein.senate.gov)
Posted June 12, 2018; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman
Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1189: Our dehumanizing, traumatizing, child-abusing immigration system
Last month, 200 activists from the disability rights organization ADAPT put their bodies and lives on the line yet again to fight for justice.
Demanding support for a critical civil rights bill called the Disability Integration Act, or DIA, activists demonstrated outside the offices of policy influencer organizations in DC, including AARP. They blocked AARP employees from leaving in their cars, risking injury and arrest to be heard. The standoff lasted six hours with temperatures in the 90s before police intervened. No one was arrested, but police carried away a man in a wheelchair and took the key from another’s powered wheelchair, effectively paralyzing them.
It’s important to remember that it was disability rights activists that made the news last summer as the Affordable Care Act and Medicare were under attack. The images of people in wheelchairs being physically dragged from the Capitol and from Mitch McConnell’s office had the desired effect. Those valiant efforts were critical in a down-to-the-wire victory where millions of Americans - both able-bodied and disabled - would’ve been affected.
Now the disabled community, which makes up nearly 19% of the population, is demanding their former healthcare allies, like AARP, return the favor. In a ThinkProgress article, ADAPT organizer Bruce Darling said, “People for the first time on national television saw disabled Americans being dragged away and disappeared, but that for us happens everyday. They are taken from their homes and forced into institutions. We are just dramatizing the conflict.”
Darling is referring to an unfortunate gap in the Americans with Disabilities Act: the need to make it easier for people who require long-term care - or Long Term Services and Supports - to stay in their homes and communities instead of being institutionalized against their will.
The Disability Integration Act is civil rights legislation that would address that gap, building on the 25 years of work that ADAPT has done to end the institutional bias and provide seniors and people with disabilities home and community-based services as an alternative to institutionalization. Despite a favorable Supreme Court ruling in 1999 and increased Medicaid funding through the ACA to address this problem, unwanted institutionalization is still rampant in the vast majority of states. The DIA would not amend the ADA, but would strengthen the Supreme Court integration mandate and create federal civil rights laws for those in institutions.
Unfortunately, as with everything, the political struggle to pass the DIA comes down to money in politics. Republicans receive donations from the owners of these institutions and Democrats receive donations from the unions within the institutions. Both have received major donations from the nursing home industry. Even though providing home care services is dramatically cheaper for a state than institutionalization, campaign contributions continue to trump good economics and civil liberties.
So what can you do? Call your members of Congress today to let them know you support the DIA. Spread the word about the DIA and the injustice of forced institutionalization on social media using the #DIAToday. And get involved with ADAPT by visiting ADAPT.org.
To learn more about the Disability Integration Act visit DisabilityIntegrationact.org.
And finally, The National Organizing Project, a collaboration between ADAPT & National Council on Independent Living, is collecting personal stories that they can use on Capitol Hill when talking with legislators. To share yours, go to AdvocacyMonitor.com.
So, if defending the civil rights of all Americans is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Telling Congress to Support the Disability Integration Act via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.
These disability rights activists protested to change a senator’s mind — and won pic.twitter.com/sg9n52PSXS— NowThis (@nowthisnews) May 18, 2018
Call Congress: Tell Congress to Support the DIA!
Help Sway Congress: Call for Stories: Snapshots of Our Lives
Spread the word on social media with #DIAToday
Posted June 5, 2018; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman
Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1188: "Impoverished, Imprisoned and Invisible (Disability Justice)"
Stand with the Students to Demand Real Gun Regulation: Call. March. Boycott. Vote. via @AMarch4OurLives #NeverAgain
The high school student mass shooting survivors from Parkland, Florida are showing us who we need to be. They are angry, grieving and traumatized and have immediately channeled those emotions into a national call to action that has had more impact in two weeks than most movements see in years.
They have held the mainstream media’s fleeting attention on gun control for weeks. Dozens of companies that once offered discounts to NRA members have ended those programs. After the rally Parkland students organized in Tallahassee, the GOP-controlled Florida legislature is actually considering gun control measures that would never have been entertained before. They have even pushed Trump to order a crackdown on bump stocks and propose more thorough background checks. Even Betsy DeVos is calling for Congressional hearings.
Of course, these teenagers have already become targets of extreme right-wing groups and media outlets, including the NRA, but they are laser focused and have had no problem calling out every hypocrite and shutting down every troll touting talking NRA points. This is just the beginning of course, but it’s powerful and hopeful. Parkland students’ success may be partly a combination of their whiteness and affluence and the final straw for Americans exhausted by years of nearly constant mass shootings…but these kids are also naturally savvy activists fighting for their lives.
They have barely finished burying their friends, but they are organizing school walkouts and a major rally in DC, establishing a strong social media presence, giving moving speeches, writing OpEds for major publications, and speaking concisely and plainly to the media to make their points. They have said over and over that they do not want the deaths of their 17 classmates to mean nothing.
So, today’s activism comes directly from the Parkland student activists who have outlined the ways people can support them and the Parkland community in the wake of this tragedy.
Mark your calendars to stand with young people at the March for Our Lives in DC, or the sister rallies around the country, on Saturday, March 24th. Go to MarchforOurLives.com for details and to donate to support the national organizing efforts.
The movement’s hashtag may be “Never Again,” but the student organizers have also explicitly said that this is not just a social media campaign. They want to move everyone, especially young people, to “vote for our lives” in the 2018 mid term elections….and that requires making sure students who are turning 18 this year are registered to vote. They ask that you write and call your members of congress about gun control, make sure you are registered to vote, help get others registered to vote, and, of course, actually go vote in the midterm elections to stop NRA-backed politicians.
Additionally, many companies and banks have been called out in the press as having ties to the NRA or world of guns and ammunition producers and the students are calling for divestment and boycotts. You can help push the movement further by putting pressure on those institutions and withholding your business until they make changes.
The students have also asked that you consider supporting the Victims Fund, the fund for their upcoming Benefit Concert, and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Journalism Program.
So, if striking while the iron is hot to demand the gun regulation we so obviously need is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Standing with the Students Demand Real Gun Control via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.
Donate to support the organizing efforts for the marches nationwide
Call and write your members of congress about gun control and VOTE!
The Parkland Students Aren't Going Away (The Atlantic)
How the Survivors of Parkland Began the Never Again Movement (The New Yorker)
Key Gun Violence Statistics (The Brady Campaign)
The NRA is being supported by these companies (Think Progress)
These are the banks financing the assault weapons industry (Think Progress)
Posted February 27, 2018; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman
Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1167: The kids are alright and they are leading the way again (Parkland Shooting)
Demand Your MoCs Defend Dreamers and Pass a Clean #DreamActNow via Dreamer Pledge Project @IndivisibleTeam @UNITEDWEDREAM
Activist groups have come together to defend Dreamers and demand a clean DREAM Act, and now they have made it incredibly easy for you to do the same.
Groups including Indivisible, United We Dream, the National Immigration Law Center, Democracy Spring, NRDC, Credo Mobile, and many more, have banded together to launch DreamerPledge.org. This website is essentially a simple and effective one-stop-shop tool for voters to find out how their members of congress voted when it comes to Dreamers and provides call scripts to help you either thank them, or tell them just how furious you are.
There are scripts for talking to Republican and Democratic members of congress and they’re written to specifically respond to the passage of the most recent Continuing Resolution bill that did not include the DREAM Act. As you’ve already heard, Democrats said they would not vote for that bill unless it included the DREAM Act, and then…many of them caved. The call scripts help you clearly demand that your Democratic and Republican members of congress vote against the upcoming February 8th Continuing Resolution unless it protects Dreamers in order to avoid complicity in Trump’s racist policies.
Let’s take this moment to remember that Senators Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have been promising to reach a deal with Trump to protect Dreamers since last September. Well, now it’s February and DACA expires just one month from now. Trump has vowed to deport DACA recipients when the program ends on March 5th, so there is no time to be congenial and make concessions. The Trump agenda is not business as usual and members of congress, especially Democrats, need to respond appropriately.
It’s baffling that Democrats have wavered since they know full well that Trump and Republicans have miscalculated this one. Ac