The aim: Guaranteed quality health care for all for life
By Sara Wright
Supporters of health care for all—including the more than 20 percent of Coloradans who voted yes for Amendment 69 in November—are on the side of history that will win—if they are willing to take a page out of Bill Moyer’s playbook, “History as a Weapon.”
According to Moyer, many social movements die at the stage where Colorado’s Medicare-for-all supporters find themselves now—when they’ve gained significant traction toward victory. He urges activists to move on quickly from battle fatigue and a (false) sense of failure.
“We need to realize and celebrate the fact that we are already successful because of all of you and your unique contributions to this social movement,” Colorado Foundation for Universal Health Care Board Vice Chair State Sen. Jeanne Nicholson told the group comprised of Foundation board members, staff, and regional leaders. “You have what it takes to win: You have a vision, you can communicate the vision to others, you are never overwhelmed by mistakes and you are persistent.”
Despite the amendment’s defeat, leaders say the campaign was the “trigger event” to propel health care for all forward. It not only raised awareness of widespread pain from the broken U.S. health care system: It built a solid base that believes everyone deserves quality health care and that it costs less when everyone is covered.
The group worked to chisel the mission statement/“end goal” for the Foundation, a 501C3 nonprofit sister organization to the group that gathered signatures to put ColoradoCare onto the ballot. (ColoradoCareYES formed to run the A69 campaign and disbanded afterward, per Colorado law.) The Foundation, while it can’t advocate for any piece of legislation, will serve as a hub for the movement around its new mission: Guaranteed, quality health care for all, for life.
The point now is to “Keep everyone in the state moving forward toward universal health care,” said T.R. Reid, a nationally known health care journalist and movement spokesperson.
Originally scheduled as a board retreat, Sunday’s gathering swelled to involve regional organizers so that their input—as well as feedback gathered statewide during a post-election listening tour—would help set the course. The group also approved a rough draft of a vision statement, agreed to follow Moyer’s strategies for gaining majority public support, committed to developing a robust fundraising strategy (many gave generously at the retreat) and asked that a strong rallying cry such as “Medicare for all,” be used for the movement.
“You mobilized for the take off with getting the health care initiative on the ballot,” said Monyett Ellington, who facilitated Sunday’s retreat. “You have met the wall of the fifth stage referred to as the perception of failure. I understand that the initiative did not pass. However, I also understand you managed to acquire enough volunteers, secured enough petitions, dispensed enough information, created enough awareness, to garner more than a half million votes in far less time than it took women to get the right to vote, with much less strife than César Chavez or Martin Luther King had to endure. You’re battle-tested and ready for Stage Six – Winning over the majority.”