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Bring Healthcare Justice to Greater Boston!

HEALTHY BOSTON

 
A dozen stalwarts braved early winter's icy blasts on December 10th in Jamaica Plain to consider launching a grassroots movement in Boston to make quality health care a right all can equally enjoy. Bringing together insights and experiences from such varied organizations as Mass-Care, Massachusetts Peace ActionService Employees International Union, the Budget for All campaign, the Massachusetts Nurses AssociationUnited for Justice with PeaceDemocratic Socialists of America and theCommittees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, some common themes and concerns quickly emerged.
 
Health insurance companies are universally reviled, wasting thirty percent of our healthcare dollar. A single-payer, Medicare-for-all approach, without the commercial health insurance companies, would bring us closer to our shared vision of a just healthcare system, guaranteeing universal access, affordability, quality and equality.
 
But we are now confronted with health disparities based on neighborhood, language, gender, sexual orientation, age and background. Our choice of doctor and hospital is increasingly narrowed as out-of-pocket costs rise.
 
Boston has pioneered the use of community health centers, culturally competent care close to home. But Roxbury Comprehensive Community Health Center has been closed and rumors abound that another center is on the brink of closing. Violence and substance abuse are threatening our communities yet the clinics to treat addiction and mental health problems are being closed both at safety-net hospitals and at richer facilities.
 
And the threat of the importation of the deadliest germs on the planet, for which there are no known cures, continues at the Boston University site on Albany Street near Boston Medical Center. These Level-4 bioterror labs have proliferated since 2001, and development of biological weapons is the result. Environmental racism remains a major risk to the Roxbury-South End community. The focus now is on the incoming mayor and city council to follow through on promises made during the recent election campaign.
 
We took note of the party caucuses beginning in February as places to lobby for healthcare justice and step up the pressure on prospective candidates for state offices. For example, Don Berwick, founder of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and former head of the the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, is planning a gubernatorial race and has stated his openness to single-payer universal health care in the Commonwealth. Vermont comes to mind, where a solid grassroots movement for health care as a human right, launched in 2008 by the Vermont Workers' Center, has blossomed into a mandate to unfold a single-payer system in 2017, when the federal Affordable Care Act will allow states to experiment with new approaches to cover everyone.
 
Seven questions are headed to the Massachusetts ballot in November. Two relate to healthcare justice. The Patient Safety Act would set enforceable staffing standards in hospitals to counter the deadly corner-cutting tricks pushed by consultants and administrators. The Hospital Profit Transparency & Fairness Act tackles the have/have-not split in health care, where some hospitals and their CEOs roll in dough while the safety-net and community facilities teeter on the brink. The success of these questions in 2014 may open the path ahead for such breakthroughs as a single-payer ballot question in 2016.
 

We agreed not only to continue our efforts in our neighborhoods and in our unions but to continue working together to help launch a healthcare human rights campaign right here in Boston. Won't you join us?

For more information: 
Quentin Davis @ 6I7-364-5025 or occsludge@occupyboston.org 
Sandy Eaton @ 6I7-5I0-6496 or sandyern@comcast.net

 

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