October 2017Campaigns

Metro DC DSA goes on offense with "Health Justice for All" Town Hall

Metro DC DSA is bringing one of its core projects to a wider public terrain. The local chapter, in a survey in late Spring before convention delegates were chosen, pegged single-payer health care reform, AKA Medicare for All,as our first priority. The national DSA convention showed that our localntiment was one of many converging waves from the various local chapters, and DSAs top priority was affirmed as ours and came back to DC. Saturday, October 7, the local chapter takes it to the community with a public town hall on ealth Justice for All.

Our local chapter is enjoying excellent timing for this public outreach as the Senate's last-gasp Graham-Cassidy attempt at ruinous health care changes implodes and Sen. Bernie Sanders drops his long-awaited Medicare for All bill. We are switching from defense to offense with this Town Hall.

A half-day detailed look the surging popularity of Medicare for All brings community information and engagement Oct. 7 as Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America gathers expert panelists to discuss "Health Justice for All."

The collapse of yet another right-wing attack on health justice in the Senate and the opportunity presented by Sen. Bernie Sanders's "Medicare for All" single-payer bill set the stage for this discussion, 2-5 p.m. at St. Stephen's and the Incarnation Episcopal Church, 1525 Newton St. NW in Washington, D.C. It is sponsored jointly by Metro DC DSA and its Northern Virginia branch, NoVa DSA.

There's a strong sense that the GOP debacle and the Democrats' increasing buy-in to a health care solution well beyond the Affordable Care Act offers a fertile opportunity to bring the details of Medicare for All to a wide and newly receptive audience inside and outside the progressive community.

The challenge has not ebbed -- friends and foes ask how universal health care will be financed without being rationed. The object is showing -- and it can be shown -- that a well-run version of Medicare for All that compels for-profit health insurance entities and for-profit providers to focus on patients first and stock prices last in order to participate can reduce overall medical costs while expanding accessibility of coverage.

At the Oct. 7 Town Hall, expert panelists from Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), Health Over Profit for Everyone (HOPE), the disability-rights group ADAPT, and the People's Policy Project explore the questions of cost, coverage, and the transition away from the for-profit health industry that has made US health care the most expensive and least accessible of any industrialized nation.

Community members at the Town Hall will hear from:

Dr. Margaret Flowers, a Maryland pediatrician and leader in Health Over Profit for Everyone, has been a single-payer advocate and champion for health justice for a decade She is, as well, a leader in PNHP, which has advocated for a single-payer plan since its inception.

Heidi Case , an activist with ADAPT and expert trainer on disability justice and radical access.

Matt Bruenig, a lawyer and a frequently published economist specializing in issues of social public provision. His crowdfunded think tank, the People's Policy Project, "aims to fill the holes left by the current think tank landscape with a special focus on socialist and social democratic economic ideas."

Kevin Zeese, JD, a lawyer and political activist who has long worked on healthcare, the war on drugs, mass incarceration, the Iraq War, and the Occupy movement. He currently serves as co-director of Popular Resistance and as a steering committee member for the HOPE campaign.

Eleanor Sarkodie, MPH, a data researcher with Whitman-Walker Health, a community health center serving the diverse community of greater DC with a special expertise in LGBTQ health and HIV care. Her work focuses on sexual health and HIV and STI prevention and treatment.

Responsive discussions by the panelists will be accompanied by testimony on health justice and its absence in today's neoliberal climate from individuals who have been impacted, as well as wide-ranging questions from those in attendance. Breakout sessions will focus on disability rights, reproductive rights, HIV prevention, and healthcare activism, including the intersection of health justice and environmental justice.

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Through the efforts of the local chapter's Health Care Working Group, an originally defense-minded spinoff of the Economic Justice Committee, Metro DC DSA is ideally positioned to be a lead agent in bringing Medicare for All to a much wider audience -- starting proactively with this Town Hall and building continuity, advocacy and action. During the spring- and summer-long struggle to protect the minimal comprehensive health care program represented by the ACA, the Health Care Working Group coordinated the presence of many DCDSA members at rallies and lobbying actions, and the local chapter can feel confidently that it is on the winning side as the GOP's abject failure was most recently accented by the collapse just this week of the Cassidy-Graham final attempt at "repeal and replace."

 

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