Activists and healthcare unions marched in New York this weekend in opposition to recent efforts to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA), and put pressure on local senators to support a statewide Medicare-for-all bill.
Around 300 protesters gathered at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue for the March for Health, which climaxed in a rally under the shadow of the Trump International Hotel at Columbus Circle.
Speakers took the stage to discuss women’s healthcare rights, disability rights, mental health, the LGBTQ community, and how the ACA is still at risk.
“I’ve seen sniffles, I’ve seen the critically ill, I’ve seen the invincible, I’ve seen the invisible. Disease doesn’t discriminate. Cancer doesn’t care about your credit score. Diabetes doesn’t care who you voted for. Depression doesn’t care about your profession, and pain is non-partisan,” said Bernard Kadosh, internal medicine physician and training cardiologist.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer also spoke at the event, as well Medicaid users who labelled the current system “difficult and dehumanizing.”
Many people at the event supported a statewide Medicare-for-all grassroots effort. In Albany, a bill introducing such a program is currently a few votes short of adequate support in the New York State Senate.
Last week, State Senator Jeffrey Klein, of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), said he would co-sponsor the measure, moving the bill closer to passage.
“I think it would be much more cost effective,” said Meg Rosenberg, a physician at Montefiore Medical Center. “We spend so much money on administration and keeping people out of the system. We could take that money and put into the system and give people healthcare,” she said.
Eileen O’Connor, a nurse practitioner in the Bronx, said she is currently on the fence about whether a single-payer model would be practical. However, she added that it is important for New York to support those who will be harmed by the Trump administration’s repeal-and-replace actions.
“I’m still not sure Medicare-for-all is practical right now but I want to see New York shore up its safety net for those who will be hurt by what Trump and his band do,” O’Conner said.