Council 36 Retiree Represents at Nat'l. Single Payer Conference

Longtime activist Lenny Potash, representing the AFSCME Retiree Chapter 36, participated in a national gathering of universal health care advocates organized by HEALTHCARE-NOW. He was among labor and other organizational leaders from 25 states who met in Las Vegas at the end of September, energized by  growing support for single payer healthcare legislation on the federal and state levels. The weekend focused largely on sharing and learning from the different experiences and campaigns.

Congresswoman Dina Titus (CD 1-NV) welcomed everyone to the meeting. The Keynote Speakers were Paul Song, MD from Los Angeles and Amy Vilela, Congressional Candidate in Nevada. Dr. Song presented a dramatic and detailed description of the US. healthcare system and the monies and lives that would be saved by a single payer system such as SB 562 in California (a bill not officially endorsed by AFSCME Council 36). Everyone got choked up when Ms. Vilela related the story of her daughter who died because she mistakenly thought she had no healthcare coverage since she had left her employment. It turned out she was still covered for a period. “Confusion should not be a death sentence,” she said,  adding, “There needs to be something better than a GoFundMe account to provide healthcare."

There was attention paid to “Preparing for Opposition… from our Enemies and our Friends”. Although the great majority of Democrats and Labor unions support a Medicare for all-type system, there is still considerable “But not now.”, or “Yes, but where will we get the money?”, and many other excuses and delays, never acknowledging that almost all industrial nation have had single payer healthcare for decades. Michael Lighty from National Nurses United drew enthusiasm when he recognized how health intersects with all the other issues we face and said, “We can only win if we are the healthcare wing of the broader social justice movement."

A speaker from Physicians for a National Health Plan spoke for everyone when the Improved Medicare for All movement must fight on three fronts at the same time: 1) Oppose Trumpcare, 2) Defend the ACA (Obamacare) and 3) Promote single payer universal healthcare.