Movement for Medicare for All in Harris County
The pandemic has exacerbated an already failed healthcare system that prioritizes profit over people. There is a federal bill in Congress, H.R.1976, the Medicare for All Act of 2021, that was introduced in March 2021, and the Senate bill is still pending introduction by Bernie Sanders. Medicare for All is a federal bill that, if passed into law, would establish a single health insurance program that would make all healthcare, including dental, vision, mental health and pharmaceuticals, free at the point of service, with no copays, no deductibles, and no premiums. Everyone would be covered, including non-citizens.
Until then, the movement to build support to pass H.R. 1976 and whatever comes from the Senate is underway, not just nationally, but here at home too.
Harris County Medicare for All (M4A) Coalition
Harris County M4A Coalition is a fairly new coalition, having formed last summer. Their goal is to have the Harris County Commissioner’s Court pass a resolution to support M4A.
M4A resolutions have been passing throughout the country at different levels of government. Resolutions provide a symbolic gesture at the local level to encourage state and federal elected officials to understand their constituents support a specific policy. It does not cost any money to pass a resolution to offer support.
In Harris County, Democratic Congress people Sylvia R. Garcia, TX-29, and Lizzie Fletcher, TX-07, have not cosponsored the bill. Each elected official ran on a progressive campaign, and they still have not cosponsored the M4A bill introduced in March 2021. Cosponsoring a bill is a symbolic gesture signaling they would vote in favor of it when it’s time. While cosponsoring does not guarantee a vote since the bill can change from introduction to passage, it does make it more formal.
Passing a M4A resolution at the county level would bolster the movement by applying pressure on elected officials like Garcia and Fletcher. Since Harris County is the third most populated county in the country, the resolution would also get national attention.
What You Can Do
They are asking the community to sign the “Support a Harris County Medicare for All Resolution!” Action Network petition that calls on the Harris County Commissioners Court to introduce a M4A resolution. The petition currently has 200 supporters.
“The more people we can get to sign the petition, the more credibility we’ll have especially when it comes to talking to Congress people,” Stephanie Villanueva, DSA Medicare for All Steering Committee member, told me in a recent interview.
The coalition’s first meeting is on Jan 26 at 7pm/CST. You can register here. They plan on having the meetings online every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month from 7 to 8pm. For any questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“If you’ve never organized before or aren’t sure what you can contribute, come to our meetings. I felt like that in the beginning. We can figure out what to do and where your skill set fits in,” Lauren Gaunt, Houston DSA member, said in the same interview.