By Kim Jones, HC4AWV Coordinator
One month ago, Gary, Eve and I attended the national People’s Action Strategy Summit in Denver, CO. It was a truly inspiring weekend.
There were five tracks in the Summit: Movement Politics, Home Guarantee, End the Drug War, People and Planet First, and Health Care for All. Gary attended the People and Planet First Track. He and West Virginia Citizen Action have long been committed to environmental justice and the climate crisis. Eve and I attended the Health Care for All track.
It was powerful to hear how people from all over the country are working towards justice. I was particularly moved by the personal stories of people who got involved in this work because of personal experiences. Like the people who are working on a Renter’s Bill of Rights, speaking about their time being homeless or living in unsafe conditions. I will never forget the activist who spoke from the End the Drug War cohort, bearing her heart about her two sons who spent 16 years in prison for possession of marijuana. Their whole youth was wasted in this destructive losing battle.
In the Health Care for All cohort, our true north vision is a national health system. A number of our fellow organizers went to Washington, DC on May 12th and attended the Senate Budget Committee meeting on the Medicare for All Act of 2022 to show their support.
We believe that healthcare is right, not a privilege. The United States is the only major industrialized country to not offer every citizen, regardless of income, critical health coverage. We want the exploitative, corrupt practices in the healthcare industry that cripple families around the country to be a thing of the past. No one in the richest country in the world should go without healthcare because they can’t afford it. No one should die because insurance, deductibles, copays, hospital costs, and pharmaceutical prices are such an unregulated and lucrative way for unscrupulous corporations to make money at the expense of our sick.
The Health Care for All national cohort and People’s Action have two main campaigns this year, one is Care Over Cost. This campaign focuses on claims denials, when insurance companies refuse to pay for what their clients are covered for. They are pairing this with a candidate pledge to reject money from insurance companies, private hospitals and pharmaceutical companies.
The second campaign is Make Meds Affordable (MMA). This campaign is focused on breaking monopolies on medicines, like insulin, to lower prices through competition. The federal government already has the power to do this, and the campaign and its allies are working to move HHS Secretary Becerra to use these existing powers to bypass ineffectiveness in Congress to make a few very high priced medicines accessible and affordable.
Health Care for All WV will be working on the MMA campaign. In fact, we’ve already been doing so for years. Over the last three years, we and our partners have worked towards policy that would lower the price of insulin copays and diabetic supplies. We did get a copay cap passed in 2020 that capped the monthly cost of insulin to those with standard insurance to $100. This was a big step in the right direction, but that is still way too expensive for most families in our state.
We are excited to work on MMA with our national partners. Hopefully we can bring our skills and experiences together and create real change. We must take some of the financial burden out of having a chronic illness, and the physical pain and suffering caused by rationing insulin or other medications. We see these citizens as victims of the merciless price gouging of pharmaceutical companies that have evaded any meaningful regulation or accountability for decades.
As always, we need all of our state allies in order to accomplish this. Thank you to all of the legislators who have supported our bills, especially Delegate Barbara Fleischauer and Delegate Matthew Rohrbach. And thank you to everyone who has stood up for the diabetics they know and love, and helped us for these three years.
If you would like to volunteer with Health Care for All WV, or help with the Make Meds Affordable campaign, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.