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ICYMI: House Democrats Lift Medicare for All As Racial Justice Issue

Following the release of a Medicare for All support letter from prominent racial justice organizations.

**Listen to the press call recording here**

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-7), Barbara Lee (CA-13)   Ayanna Pressley (MA-7), and Debbie Dingell (MI-12) held a call on the release of a letter from several prominent racial justice organizations urging Members of Congress to sign on to H.R. 1384, also known as the Medicare for All Act of 2019. 

In the letter, the organizations – including the NAACP, Center for Popular Democracy, League of United Latin American Citizens and United We Dream – illustrate the need for a Medicare for All universal health care system and how it would impact communities of color. 

“This letter is important because it highlights the tremendous burden felt by communities of color when it comes to accessing quality, affordable healthcare. It is an incredibly powerful reminder that any conversation on American healthcare is incomplete without a discussion of racial injustice. There are long-standing structural biases and challenges within our current healthcare systems that create barriers for people of color and prevent them from receiving the care they need – but Medicare for All can change all of that,” said Rep. Jayapal. 

The authors of this letter discussed the Medicare for All Act of 2019’s unprecedented support from racial justice organizations and how Medicare for All would remove key structural and racial barriers in our healthcare system to ensure everyone, including communities of color, has guaranteed quality, affordable health care. 

“Our current healthcare system is marred by racism, sexism, and classism. The immense health and healthcare disparities among poor folks and in Black, Latinx, and indigenous communities are a direct consequence of long-standing structural biases created by the profit-driven private insurance industry. We need a system where everyone is in, and nobody is out. And a single-payer Medicare-for-All system is the only way that we can do that. It’s the only way we will realize health care as a human right, and stop big pharmaceutical and insurance companies from profiting off the pain of our families,” said Jennifer Epps-Addison, Co-Executive Director and Network President, Center for Popular Democracy.

“Communities of color need a comprehensive, high-quality health care system that rectifies long-standing structural biases and challenges,” said Hilary O. Shelton, Director of the NAACP Washington Bureau and Senior Vice President for Policy and Advocacy.  “While disparities in health care outcomes may persist, evidence shows us that they decrease dramatically when health insurance coverage increases.  Medicare for All would be a crucial and much-needed improvement to our health care system. Medicare for All universal health care would much more thoroughly support the health and economic security of patients of color, alongside controlling the costs of prescription drugs, thereby addressing both glaring affordability and access issues for low and moderate-income patients of color. With Medicare for All, patients can get the care and preventative services they need, and as such disparities in care and treatment will dissipate,” he added.

“Latinos face the highest rates of uninsurance in the United States and comprise a large part of the workforce that is unable to get health coverage through their job. Thus, Latinos suffer from poorer health outcomes due to disparities in accessing health insurance coverage and quality care. Healthcare is not only a question about access, but about appropriate medical care for communities of color. A Medicare for All system is necessary to overcome these health disparities by ensuring everybody, without exception, receives comprehensive health care, while lowering overall health care expenditures. By ensuring Latinos have access, we ensure that America has a healthy future workforce,” said Sindy Benavides, Chief Executive Office of League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).

Deyanira Aldana, DACA recipient with United We Dream, said “When I was 11-years-old I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. Because of my mom’s private health insurance, I was able to afford treatment. But at 16-years-old, the factory my mom worked at shut down and she was laid off. The only thing my diabetic counselor could offer me was help with getting charity care. In 2017, I was shocked to find out my health had declined and that I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. My life changed forever as I became insulin dependent and required to wear a pump. The only thing that’s keeping me alive is DACA, which has allowed me to obtain my own insurance so that I can prioritize my health. You hear on the news the tragic stories of people who plead to stay or else they’ll be deported to their deaths — for the undocumented and uninsured, death doesn’t wait on the cruelty of deportation. Every single person has a human right to life and dignity. That’s why I, and countless immigrant youth and families, believe in healthcare for all and support the Medicare for All Act of 2019.”  

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