By Isabelle A.
The proposed expansion of Medicare to all Americans (and Alexandrians) would solve an important health problem in our community: nearly 10% of Alexandrians are currently uninsured. This matters because under-insurance disproportionately impacts our marginalized and undocumented communities. Medicare For All would alleviate this disparity by providing universalized care. At present, 25% of pregnant Alexandrians do not receive early prenatal care. With reproductive healthcare under attack in the United States, this is unacceptably immoral. Medicare For All is an antiracist and intersectional method of minimizing disparities for Alexandrians, and will support our local service economy; 69% of restaurant-industry workers lack work-provided insurance. You can help by taking action today.
What is Medicare For All?
Medicare For All will provide equal access to quality healthcare, managed at the federal or state level. Congress has proposed a bill to provide this care: the Medicare for All Act of 2021 (H.R. 1976). The Medicare for All Act of 2021 would give U.S. residents freedom of choice for their medical providers. This federally-supported program would be a significant update relative to traditional Medicare adding, for example, dental and vision services. It would eliminate private insurance premiums and copays (unless one chooses to purchase private insurance to cover additional services). Not only would Medicare For All reduce the burden of private insurance endured by Americans, but it would prevent private companies from profiting off of illness and injury. Medicare For All simplifies healthcare; it adds access for people from all walks of life. No person should have to deny themselves care out of fear of medical bills or exploitation from private companies.
As a lifetime Alexandrian, I am personally invested in bringing Medicare For All to Alexandria. For one, the COVID-19 pandemic heightened my awareness of healthcare inequities. I grew dissatisfied with the Biden administration’s lack of support for at-risk, frontline workers as well as disparities in vaccination rates that have emerged among marginalized communities. More recently, with the Supreme Court threatening reproductive rights, I am painfully aware that childbearing Alexandrians need federally-protected access to healthcare. If the Virginia Senate loses its Democratic majority in next year’s elections, it is likely that abortion rights will become restricted. The promise of reproductive healthcare, a part of Medicare For All, is therefore crucial in Alexandria.
How Grassroots Alexandria is Getting Involved
Grassroots Alexandria is working alongside the Northern Virginia branch of the Democratic Socialists of America and OurRevolution Virginia to promote Medicare For All. Specifically, we are working to obtain passage of a resolution by the Alexandria City Council in favor of Medicare For All. The draft resolution supports the Medicare for All Act of 2021 (H.R. 1976), which is co-sponsored by Congressman Don Beyer. As previously explained, H.R. 1976 would provide federally-supported healthcare that would give all U.S. residents free choice over their medical providers. By passing a medicare For All resolution,the Alexandria City Council will join communities across the USA. With our hometown, and our many coalition partners, staunchly supporting Medicare for All, we can expect federal action.
A Growing Threat: Medicare privatization without consent
During the Trump presidency, a program of privatizing Medicare was launched, utilizing the services of Direct Contracting Entities (DCEs). These private companies reap profit by minimizing delivery of actual health services. This program, discreetly rebranded as “REACH” in February of 2022 and set to go live on January 1st, 2023, has become even more dangerous. Specifically, beneficiaries of Medicare have been automatically switched to this profit-focused model without their knowledge or consent. This uniquely impacts senior citizens and underserved/marginalized communities; their only way out of this new program is to switch primary providers. Medicare For All offers a solution by providing a) governmental quality control for medical care and b) free choice of providers that will help to end the existing disparities in healthcare.
What Can You Do?
How can you as an Alexandria resident get involved? Firstly, you can help Grassroots Alexandria bolster support for the local Medicare For All resolution. You can read the resolution draft and contact the City Council. You can also write to the Council’s Public Health Advisory Commission. If taking action in person is something you’re comfortable with, the Commission meets on the third Thursday of the month at 5:30pm. Making personal connections is a significant part of our effort, so attending these meetings is crucial! Finally, you can educate yourself on this issue and talk about it with those in your life. The more Alexandrians who recognize the need for Medicare For All, the better! Public Citizen’s website on Medicare For All is a great resource, as it offers both educational resources and ways to get involved in your hometown. Finally, if you would like to get involved with Grassroots Alexandria and/or DSA, you can subscribe to Grassroots Alexandria announcements or visit the DSA web page.