WASHINGTON, D.C. – The D.C. Council voted today to approve a resolution in support of a Medicare for All national health care system, joining a growing list of localities that are demanding an end to our broken for-profit health care system. The resolution, introduced by Councilmember Christina Henderson, was the culmination of a broad coalition effort by local health advocacy groups, including Public Citizen, SPACES in Action, National Nurses United, SEIU Local 1199 and Metro DC DSA.
“The last 18 months have exposed longstanding inequities in our health systems, further placing an unjust burden on Black and Brown residents,” said Councilmember Christina Henderson. “This resolution urges Congress to act. The Affordable Care Act was a strong start, but now it’s time to go further and provide comprehensive access to health care regardless of employment status. It is past time we eliminate discriminatory barriers to health care in the United States.”
“The vast racial and income disparities in infections and deaths related to the COVID pandemic in our city have underscored just how inequitable our for-profit health care system is,” said Melinda St. Louis, Ward 1 resident and director of Public Citizen’s Medicare for All campaign. “We don’t have voting representation in Congress, but by joining with municipalities across the country in passing this resolution, the D.C. Council has put Congress on notice that DC residents demand guaranteed, equitable health care for all.”
While the District has made strides in closing the coverage gap, more than 24,500 people in the District of Columbia remain uninsured, with many more underinsured. Lack of access to quality health care has led to vast health disparities among DC residents. For example, Hispanic and Black residents are respectively four and six times more likely to die from COVID-19 than White residents. Medicare for All would give everyone access to the care they need without the outrageous costs.
In addition to D.C., Public Citizen’s resolution effort has helped more than 70 other cities and counties pass resolutions in support of Medicare for All, including Detroit, Philadelphia, Seattle, Los Angeles and New Orleans, and neighboring Prince George’s and Montgomery counties and Annapolis in Maryland.
“If we do not care for the most vulnerable citizens of DC, we fail DC. All residents should have access to quality affordable comprehensive health care. Health care is a right, not a privilege,” said LaDon Love, executive director of SPACEs In Action.
“Health care is the largest line item in the DC budget, yet we continue to struggle to provide residents health coverage under the for-profit health care system we have today,” said Abel Amene, Ward 1 resident and Steering Committee member at Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America.
“Nurses have long been at the forefront of the push for health care as a human right, and we are so proud to have stood strong with our allies to get this D.C. Council Medicare for All resolution across the finish line. COVID-19 has driven home the massive shortcomings of our fragmented, profit-based health care system and highlighted the health disparities in which our Black, Brown and Indigenous patients have died at disproportionate rates,” said Stephanie Sims, RN, a member of National Nurses United and resident of Ward 8. “We need Medicare for All now, and this resolution sends a strong message that the leadership of our nation’s capital puts patients first — and we demand Congress do the same by backing Medicare for All.”
“As health care workers in the District of Columbia and Maryland, 1199SEIU members know firsthand how critical it is for all families — Black, Brown and white — to have the comprehensive care we all need to lead healthy lives,” said Ricarra Jones, political director of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. “Throughout this pandemic and long before it, our members have seen the consequences of people delaying or foregoing the care they need because they can’t afford it. COVID-19 has shown that we are all in this together — that a healthy you means a healthy me, and a healthy us. That’s why we are proud to stand with our movement partners and the D.C. Council to support Medicare for All.