‘Medicare For All’ Comes To Michigan

The idea that everyone in the United States should have healthcare, a concept promoted most recently by Democratic former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, is coming to Michigan on Monday in the form of a rally at the state Capitol.

But the timing is coincidental, organizers say. Michigan People’s Campaign (MPC), a statewide progressive organization, originally picked up the rally date months ago from a national call put out by Millions Marching for Medicare. Since then, MPC has formed a coalition with ten progressive organizations in the state to co-sponsor the Michigan event.

“Basically people would be able to have the same coverage that currently Medicare affords,” said Ayman Khafagi of Michigan for Revolution, who joined the effort to set up a rally on Monday, July 24 in Lansing. Khafagi said an event will take place in Kalamazoo on Monday as well for those who can’t make it to the state Capitol, but details on that were not immediately available.

Michigan plays a major component in the conversation, as U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit) earlier this year reintroduced legislation (HR 676) in support of the single-payer system.

“Passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was a step in the right direction,” Conyers said in a statement at the time. “It has provided health insurance to millions of our nation’s uninsured and eliminated many of the worst practices of the private health insurance industry. Rather than repealing it and taking a step back, we should build on that progress by expanding Medicare to All.”

Conyers continued, “Single-payer isn’t just the moral thing to do or a good government issue, it’s what Americans want. Many leading healthcare practitioners and experts share my belief, and that of most Americans, that establishing a non-profit universal healthcare system would be the best way to effectively contain healthcare costs and provide quality care for all Americans.”

Khafagi agrees, noting that the number of events nationwide centered on this issue have continued to increase over time.

“It’s natural for people to be drawn to this. We don’t think twice that police is a public service (that is publicly funded), or fire or anything education … Healthcare is no different,” Khafagi said. “Healthcare is not a commodity, and all the ideas of marketplace working for healthcare never really worked for the people. People are realizing ‘yeah, it cannot be a commodity, because I never have a choice when I’m sick.’ Anyone who is sick is on their knees, and people on their knees don’t bargain.”

He said at the moment, current polls show more than 60 percent of Americans support a single-payer system, and while this is the first nationwide push, it’s just a start in Michigan.

“We believe that states can implement single-payer if they want to,” Khafagi said. “We’ll continue to push, we’ll make it grow. … We will organize in different cities in Michigan for rallies and we’ll create some specific policies we’ll push. We’re getting some candidates for 2018 on the record (too). On Monday, some will be speaking. We didn’t allow anyone to have a public speaking spot unless they put out a public statement out before the rally.”

A press release on the event indicated speakers at the rally will include Abdul el-Sayed, candidate for Michigan Governor; David Benac, a candidate in Michigan’s 6th Congressional District; Robert Davidson, a candidate in Michigan’s 2nd Congressional District; T.J. Kimball, a candidate in the 29th state Senate District; representatives from the Michigan Nurses Association and Physicians for a National Health Plan, as will individuals with stories related to their struggles with healthcare expenses and experiences with health insurance companies.

Co-sponsoring organizations include Michigan for Revolution, Michigan United Washtenaw County Huron Valley Democratic Socialists of America, Our Revolution Michigan, Ann Arbor Indivisible, Indivisible Michigan 7th District, Progressive Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party, and Greater Detroit Democratic Socialists of America.

The Lansing event is set to begin at 4 p.m.

Danielle Emerson

Danielle Emerson