Largest U.S. Nurses Union Endorses Medicare for All

The Group Showed Its Support at a Rally Outside PhRMA

The largest U.S. nurses union, National Nurses United (NNU), has had enough of big pharma. At an event outside of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), which represents the country’s leading biopharmaceutical researchers and biotechnology companies, NNU and dozens of other healthcare organizations showed their support for Medicare for All. This progressive new policy would put the entire U.S. healthcare system in the hands of the federal government, getting rid of private medical and insurance companies that often inflate the cost of care.

As members of NNU argued in front of PhRMA, for-profit healthcare companies often put profits above the health and safety of their patients. Implementing Medicare for All would do away with this system, ensuring everyone can access the health services they need.

Learn more about the union’s decision to endorse Medicare for All and what this policy would mean for the country’s healthcare system.

Rallying Outside of PhRMA

On April 30th, hundreds of nurses, patients, and other supporters of Medicare for All took to the streets outside of PhRMA to show their support for this groundbreaking policy and tell stories about their experiences in the healthcare industry. Many nurses and care providers talked about how for-profit companies have caused hardships for their patients.

NNU Executive Director Bonnie Castillo, RN had this to say at the event: “We have seen patients rationing their insulin to stay alive and families who can’t afford the medications their children need for treating leukemia. Families have to choose between facing homelessness or caring for their children. Drug companies know this, and still choose to prioritize profits over people. This is why we need Medicare for All, to protect patients from the abuses of Big Pharma.”

Towards the end of the rally, nurses used Band-Aids to paste images of GoFundMe campaigns on the sides of the building. These personal fundraising campaigns were designed to raise money for vital medications and medical procedures that these families and individuals can no longer afford. This is just one of the reasons so many nurses showed their support for Medicare for All.

While the details of this plan have yet to be finalized, it would replace the current healthcare system with one single government-run program, getting rid of private insurance and for-profit companies. Healthcare services and medications would be free for patients, doing away with premiums and copays. To pay for these services, the plan would raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

Why Medicare for All?

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was the first to introduce a Medicare for All bill back in 2017. Since then, the idea has garnered support from patients and healthcare advocates across the country. Some of the leading Democratic presidential candidates have also since endorsed Medicare for All, making it a central issue in the 2020 presidential race.

Under the proposed new system, the federal government would oversee every aspect of the healthcare system, replacing private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act. It would automatically provide free healthcare to everyone living in the U.S., including routine doctors’ visits, mental health, dental, and prescription drugs. The government would set rates for medical procedures, drugs and medical equipment.

While the details of the plan are still being hammered out, some patients may still see a bill if they want cosmetic surgery or certain prescription medications, but for the most part, the government would subsidize all care for every patient.

Too Much, Too Soon?

As promising as this plan may sound, the overall cost of Medicare for All remains unclear. The Mercatus Center at George Mason University estimates it would cost more than $32 trillion over 10 years, while health finance expert Kenneth Thorpe at Emory University estimates it would cost about $25 trillion over the next 10 years.

It’s also unclear who would pay for the plan or where the money would come from. Under Sanders’ plan, he would use the $2 trillion the government already spends on healthcare and raise taxes substantially on those making more than $250,000 a year. He has also suggested a wealth tax on the top 0.1% of households.

Supporters of Medicare for All believe that by combining the current healthcare system into one single entity, the government will be able to reduce costs and simplify the delivery of care, which would also help pay for the plan. But it remains unclear exactly how much the plan would reduce the cost of care.

The U.S. healthcare system currently accounts for one fifth of the U.S. economy, which means Medicare for All would replace countless for-profit companies with government-run entities. The Congressional Budget Office also released a report that suggests Medicare for All would increase patient demand, which means patients could see longer wait times if there aren’t enough care providers to go around.

Even as politicians and policy advocates continue debating the details of the plan, nurses aren’t shy when it comes to showing their support for Medicare for All. Watching patients struggle to pay for care can be devastating for care providers. Getting rid of the current for-profit system may help relieve these issues, but the country is still a long way from passing any form Medicare for All legislation into law.

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