Statement from Socialist Alternative Organizers:
Mass Mobilization Strategy Needed to Pressure Establishment
“We’re protesting Simcha Felder’s role in blocking the passage of the NY Health Act. The political establishment of New York had an opportunity to guarantee health care to all New Yorkers at a time when we are fighting against the threat of Republican healthcare reform in Washington. They failed.
“We can’t let that happen again. We need mass protests. We need a systematic campaign, led by the main progressive organizations and the unions, that aims to mobilize thousands of people into action, starting with a mass demonstration on day one of the next legislative session. Let’s build a fight to demand the passage of the New York Health Act.”
– Tyler Hassan, mental health care worker, Socialist Alternative member, and resident of Senator Simcha Felder’s district in Brooklyn
“Young people face a future of skyrocketing tuition, rent, and healthcare costs. But we are fighting back. The for-profit health care system is rotten and we’re tired of politicians making excuses for why people have to keep dying. We want to know where Senator Felder actually stands. Is he on the side of the predatory insurance companies? Or is he on the side of the uninsured and the sick?”
– Juliet DePaula, Socialist Students BMCC in NYC
On June 20, members of Socialist Alternative, Democratic Socialists of America, and the Green Party organized a protest inside Democratic Party State Senator Simcha Felder’s Brooklyn office. Jabari Brisport, the DSA member running for city council as a Green Party candidate in Brooklyn District 35 also joined the protest.
Felder is the only Democrat in the State Senate who has not come out in support of NY Health Act S4840, which is a Medicare for All plan for New York state supported by healthcare workers unions and the Physicians for a National Health Plan.
The Democrats technically have a majority in the Senate, but Felder and other Democrats choose to caucus with the Republicans and give the GOP a majority to block the health bill.
Defeat Trumpcare – Pass Medicare for All
For the third year in a row, the NY State Assembly passed the act, and for the third year in a row the NY State Senate has sided with the health insurance companies.
This year is different because the stakes have never been higher. Trump’s election has put the Republicans in a position to gut the Affordable Care Act, a real threat to millions of people who could lose their insurance. The NY Governor’s office estimates that 2.7 million residents of NY state could lose coverage.
Passing the NY Health Act now would ensure nobody loses their healthcare because of Trump, and it would also extend healthcare to the more than 1 million people in NYC who still lack insurance despite Obamacare. Passing the NY Health Act would also inspire people around the country to defeat Trumpcare and fight for Medicare for All.
Support for Medicare for All is growing. A May 2016 Gallup poll showed 58% of Americans support “replacing the ACA with a federally funded healthcare program providing insurance for all Americans.”
Nobody should have to rely on the patchwork of competing, predatory, for-profit insurance companies who are more interested in profiting off the sick than delivering high quality care.
Role of the Democratic Party Establishment
Unfortunately, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and other establishment Democrats are not backing Medicare for All legislation, preferring to uphold the prestige of Obamacare. The ACA extended care to millions of people and we defend that, but it hasn’t been enough to stop rising costs or provide everyone insurance.
Meanwhile, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo has not said if he would actually sign the NY Health Act. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, who organized a rally of 25,000 to protest Trump’s inauguration, has done nothing to mobilize support for passage of the NY Health Act. This was a huge opportunity and the political establishment failed.
The hesitation and opposition of establishment Democrats reflects the huge pressure of the insurance industry who will not be passive in the face of threats to their power and profits. They have spent tens of millions of dollars lobbying politicians over the decades and have bought off entire sections of both parties.
New Strategy Needed
That’s why we can’t rely on the politicians to simply “do the right thing.” We need a new strategy in the fight for health care that mobilizes the power of working people.
We call on the powerful unions of New York and all the progressive organizations who are already working hard in the fight to pass the NY Health Act to build for a united mass demonstration in Albany at the start of the next legislative session.
We should systematically build for the protest, with local actions building up to the main demonstration, to ensure the widest participation.
The for-profit healthcare system is failing. Under capitalism, every service is turned into a cash making operation for the billionaires at the expense of the needs of working people.
There are so many issues to fight on – health care, racism, sexism, poverty, housing, transit, jobs, the environment. But the key underlying issue is power – the billionaires have too much and working people don’t have enough. The fight for Medicare for All can be a starting point for changing that.
Socialist Alternative calls for:
- Pass the NY Health Act now! No more delays!
- A mass demonstration on day one of the next session of the NY state legislature demanding passage of NY Health Act
- A united mass movement to escalate pressure on the political establishment, led by progressives organizations like Physicians for a National Health Plan, healthcare unions, and the broader labor movement
- Free quality healthcare and public services for all, paid for with a massive tax increases on Wall Street and the billionaire class
- An end to for-profit healthcare – democratic public ownership of the predatory pharmaceutical industry and the largest medical supply companies, hospital chains and healthcare providers
- For an ongoing mass movement against poverty, inequality, racism, sexism, and all forms of oppression
- For independent candidates and a new party of the 99% that reject corporate cash and fight for the urgent needs of all working people
- A democratic socialist society organized to meet the needs of people and the environment, not profits.