Universal Health Care New Jersey

New Jerseyans Rally in New Brunswick to Demand Medicare for All

July 24 Rally

Rally speaking 1 On Monday July 24, New Jersey Universal Health Coalition(NJUHC) and many other organizations (see the list below), held a rally and march to demand a single-payer healthcare system, Medicare for All. Participants called on Congressman Frank Pallone to sign on as a cosponsor of HR.676—the House of Representatives bill to enact Medicare for All. HR.676 has 115 cosponsors, more than ever before and growing, but Congressman Pallone is not one of them. Pallone is the Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has one of the broadest jurisdictions of any congressional committee. Its jurisdiction includes issues pertaining to energy, environment, healthcare, commerce, food and drug safety, consumer protection, telecommunications and the internet. Pallone has held a seat on the Committee since 1992. Rally organizer Carol Gay, the President of the New Jersey State Industrial Union Council and a board member of the New Jersey Universal Healthcare Coalition, led a delegation into Congressman Pallone’s office to deliver letters urging him to become a cosponsor.

Carol speakingThe march and rally began outside Pallone’s New Brunswick office and ended at the corner of Albany and George. Over seventy-five people were in attendance, chanting, singing—the Industrial Union Council’s Solidarity Singers were in the house—carrying placards, and distributing printed flyers to passers-by.

July marks the fifty-second anniversary of the signing of the Medicare Act on July 30, 1965. Medicare continues to help millions of people with their healthcare expenses, and the best way to celebrate its anniversary is to join with others to demonstrate for its preservation, expansion, and improvement.

Organizations that Participated

NJ State Industrial Union Council
NJ Universal Healthcare Coalition
Central Jersey Coalition Against Endless War
Progressive Democrats of America NJ
Food and Water Watch NJ
Green Party, NJ
Our Revolution
New Labor,
National Organization for Women, NJ
Socialist Alternative,
Democratic Socialists of America, NJ
Bus for Progress
Medicare for All, NJ

Green Party Candidate for Governor Addresses
New Jersey Universal Healthcare Coalition

On May 6, 2017, New Jersey Universal Healthcare Coalition had its first semiannual meeting of 2017, and hosted Reverend Seth Kaper-Dale (Green Party Gubernatorial candidate) as the keynote speaker. The event attracted an enthusiastic group of Medicare-for-all supporters, diverse in both age and ideology. All gathered for the same reason-to discuss the organizing ahead to win single payer for New Jersey residents. Representatives from Medicare for All NJ were voted in to join our coalition, and local leaders stepped up to change the stances of the 4 democratic NJ congressmen still not co-sponsoring HR676 (Gottheimer, Norcross, Pallone, Pascrell). Additionally, there was interest in targeting one Republican congressman-Leonard Lance.

Following general business, Reverend Kaper-Dale, or as he called himself, Seth, was given the floor. The most striking aspect of his presentation was how much he approached single payer as an ally first, and policy maker second. He insisted that we, the activists, take the leading role in policy creation, crediting organizers in our movement as leading him to his ultimate stance in favor of expanded and improved Medicare for All NJ residents. Single payer activist Ariane Benefit expressed appreciation for “the way [Seth] connected the benefits and cost” of statewide single payer. He emphasized the​ savings achieved by implementing Medicare for All, and connected single payer to other NJ issues, such as ​fixing​ the pension funding problem, and ​ lowering property taxes. This video covers most of Seth’s portion of the program.

Seth Kaper-Dale and Kim Meudt

While there were many Green Party activists in attendance, as their party membership is particularly strong in their support for Medicare for All, and some even made suggestions to promote Seth and the healthcare coalition together on the same outdoor sign, NJUHC Chair Tom Knoche reminded folks that NJUHC is not about endorsing candidates.  We both organize with and target candidates to strengthen the movement; we don’t endorse any of them officially.

Tom Knoche

Wisniewski Champions Healthcare as a Human Right!

December 10 meetingThe large turnout at last Saturday’s NJUHC membership meeting demonstrated the growing interest in single payer health care policy in NJ. The room was over-flowing with single payer supporters representing many different political, labor, health care, religious and advocacy groups as well as many unaffiliated supporters.

WisniewskiAfter the general business meeting, NJUHC Board members addressed how a single payer system would look under NJUHC’s vision. Specifically, the plan is to expand Medicare to serve all NJ residents of all ages, including undocumented people. Medicare has effectively provided comprehensive care with the least administrative cost to millions of retirees and other patients in NJ. With this vision in mind, Assemblyman John Wisniewski began to lead his portion of the meeting, specifically addressing where our efforts stand in the context of NJ’s political climate.

Wisniewski both clarified the challenges we face, and highlighted the distinct advantages we have. Among our challenges, Wisniewski specifically referred to our state’s generally messy political history, Governor Christie’s predictably obstructive tendency to veto most progressive legislation that passes through our legislature, and the moneyed pharmaceutical interest groups we’re up against.

Admitting these challenges, Wisniewski still encouraged us to be hopeful for the future, reminding us that NJ has a predominantly democratic legislature and assembly, and that he himself plans to run for Governor in the next election, and will make single payer one of his key platforms despite the backlash he’ll face for doing so. Wisniewski’s confidence in single payer as good policy, and its inclusion in his platform, suggest our efforts are impacting public opinion about health care in NJ.

Indeed, if a hopeful candidate for the upcoming gubernatorial race would publicly come out in support of single payer, no one can tell us anymore that our cause isn’t politically viable.

A Letter to the New York Times
The Health Law, in the Real World

To the Editor:

As Elisabeth Rosenthal eloquently documents in “Insured, but Not Covered” (news analysis, Sunday Review, Feb. 8), our health insurance system is little better than the nonsystem we had before the Affordable Care Act.

President Obama’s reform was doomed by the failure to exclude the major profit-driven industries (health insurance, drug manufacturers and for-profit, hospital-based medical-industrial corporations) from taking it over and milking it for profits.

Virtually all of the problems (excluding the initial enrollment difficulties) can be attributed to tactics intended to transfer more cost to the consumer (and the government, which is ultimately us), while delivering higher profits for less actual care, which we are discouraged from seeking.

Congressional Republicans propose to turn even more of the system over to private, for-profit entities; instead, we should be instituting “improved Medicare for all.” Covering everyone equally, and eliminating time- and money-consuming confusion with a clearly defined, dependable system, relatively simple to understand and administer, would save billions of dollars while providing better care.

Berkeley Heights, N.J.

The writer is a psychiatrist.

A Letter to the New York Times
The Costs of a Trip to the Doctor

To the Editor:

Re “Patients’ Costs Skyrocket; Specialists’ Incomes Soar” (“Paying Till It Hurts” series, front page, Jan. 19):

The American health care system fails irrefutably and unacceptably with its economics and its ethics. How is it acceptable that the other leading countries of the world provide universal health care at half the cost and generally with higher quality?

The increasing national recognition of single-payer (improved Medicare for all) offers a singular and simple solution to both the economics and the ethics of our health care system. Single payer is simple, economical and humane, and it is desperately needed in the United States.

Morristown, N.J., Jan. 20, 2014

The writer, a retired family medicine specialist, is New Jersey chapter president of Physicians for a National Health Program.