By Elaine Branjord
Over 500 supporters of single payer health care—150 more than 2016—gathered Jan. 13-14 in NYC for the Single-Payer Strategy Conference, sponsored by Healthcare-NOW, Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare and One Payer States. After a rally for single payer health care at Trump Towers and a show of support with local union members striking for better health care, attendees gathered at the Wyndham New Yorker to network with friends and old new. Keynote speaker, Nina Turner, former Ohio state legislator and spokesperson for the Bernie Sanders’ campaign, set the tone for a weekend dedicated to a positive vision of healthcare justice. Speakers from local and national unions, progressive political movements, academics, and those involved in coalition building to include a broad spectrum of people shared their ideas and experiences. A wide variety of smaller group workshops addressed the challenges and opportunities to activists who will return to communities across the country.
Sunday morning attendees broke into small groups to discuss:
1. How to work to protect existing programs while fighting for a more transformative vision of healthcare.
2. We all win when we all win, partial victories.
3. How to work with allied movements for social and economic justice.
4. Sharing networks and personal stories.
On January 15, 200 activists marched to the financial district to a rally for health care sponsored by the New York State Nurses Association, where we again heard the story of a 22-year-old nursing student who died an unnecessary death after being refused care. Her parents have now become activists who are speaking for their daughter and so many others.
This conference met its objective to bring supporters together to network and learn from one another. Healthcare-NOW is organizing an umbrella campaign called Guaranteed Health Care for All. Watch for it soon.