July 19, 2019 | 87° F

Pro-Medicare 'barnstorm' event held at Rutgers labor education center

Photo by Wikimedia |

Congressman Frank Pallone (N.J.-6) is currently the chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee. He has previously stated support for universal healthcare, but the New Jersey Healthcare Coalition is urging him to support Medicare for all. 

The New Jersey Universal Healthcare Coalition (NJUHC) held a Medicare for All barnstorm event at Rutgers’ Labor Education Center yesterday.

A barnstorm event is a gathering of volunteers who talk about the plan for Medicare for All and organize to knock on doors and make phone calls to the community, according to NJUHC's website.

The goal of the event was to convince Congressman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), who represents New Brunswick in the House of Representatives, to support Medicare for All, according to an event flier.

“Today we are all here to crank up the pressure on Congressman Frank Pallone of CD-6. Congressman Pallone has been elevated to a very powerful position. He now chairs one of the most important committees in the house (Energy and Commerce Committee), the committee that will inevitably be dealing with this issue, and we need to urge him to step up,” said Charlie Kratovil, a Rutgers alumnus and a 2018 independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.

Pallone already supports universal healthcare, according to his website. He believes, as the ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, that all Americans should have access to high-quality, affordable healthcare and advocates for legislation that will help achieve these goals.

Kratovil provided opening remarks at the event.

“We should understand by now that this is not only a political issue, this is a human rights issue, right here in our country. It’s also an economic issue. Right now, we’re paying more and getting less, and we deserve better,” Kratovil said.

Other issues with the American healthcare system were addressed. Current issues include high costs for health insurance and high co-pays and deductibles for people who do have insurance, said NJUHC member Herb Tarbous.

The event coincided with actions taken in Congress, as Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) introduced a Medicare buy-in bill on Wednesday, according to The Hill.

“The new measure would allow people to purchase Medicare plans after turning 50, instead of waiting until 65,” according to The Hill.

Sudip Bhattacharya, a graduate student in the Department of Political Science, said that healthcare is a human right and thus should be a required government program.

“I support Medicare for all because I believe healthcare is a human right. To lead a life of dignity, people need healthcare,” Bhattacharya said.

New Jersey has a fair amount of residents without healthcare. Seven hundred thousand New Jersey residents currently do not have health insurance, according to NJUHC's website.

A single-payer system may also help employers and employees save money, Tarbous said.

“Because single-payer healthcare is provided by the government, it’s no longer attached to your job. That actually helps the employers as well as the employees. Now the employers don’t have to be in the healthcare business, buying and providing health insurance,” Tarbous said.

The implementation of universal healthcare does not come without costs, according to Forbes. The European Union (EU), for example, is beginning to face issues with its long-standing single-payer system.

“As their economies languish, many EU members, especially those in Southern Europe, have begun relying on debt to finance their increasingly unsustainable welfare systems,” according to Forbes.

Medicare continues to remain a highly contested political issue, as shown by the new Medicare buy-in bill introduced in Congress. Although many congressional Democrats are likely to support Stabenow’s health care bill, it is unlikely to pass through the Republican-controlled Senate, according to The Hill.

Bhattacharya said that until significant reform is passed, the American healthcare system will remain flawed.

“As you see now, what’s happening, oftentimes people have healthcare emergencies and they can’t scrap the funds necessary to get a simple procedure done without falling deeper into debt. I just feel that’s unjust,” he said.

Jake McGowan

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