Los Angeles Speaks Out for Medicare for All

On November 5, 2019, the Los Angeles City Council passed a resolution in support of Medicare for All.  With a city population of almost four million, it is the second-most populous city in the U.S.  

More than 30 Los Angeles residents, representing small business owners, unions, patients, nurses, doctors, and more spoke in favor of the resolution before the council, sharing powerful personal stories. Below are excerpts from some powerful testimonies by Los Angeles residents and councilmembers in favor of Medicare for All.

“Last year I had lost my basic healthcare but fortunately landed a job with a new health insurance just before I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. So, a few weeks ago, I had surgery and luckily, they caught it early enough. But we should not rely on luck to save lives… I think that healthcare should be a human right, and everyone should have the ability to go and see a doctor. Had I not been diagnosed this year, it would have metastasized, and I would have had three or four years to live.”
-Susan Shannon, Los Angeles City Health Commission

“I’m an original gigger, an OG of the film industry and frankly most of the young people in this industry will not have health insurance if we continue the ways we are now. We need Medicare for All now. Many of those people will have their dreams dashed because they need to take jobs that do not fulfill their dreams just to get health insurance… Medicare for All is the moral imperative and it’s the way we should be going now.”
-Betty, Film Industry Professional 

“In Los Angeles, we’re supposed to be leaders, setting an example for the rest of the country. But in L.A., there are 893,000 medically uninsured residents. My neighborhood includes parts of Skid Row…. In those 50 blocks, tens of thousands of my neighbors are homeless, two out of three of them are people of color and despite their medical needs, which include higher rates of heart cancer, kidney disease, skin infection, HIV-aids, et cetera, our primary medical treatment comes from jails. They have a life expectancy of less than 50 and are the least likely to be able to afford healthcare. Our city spends two billion to maintain the status quo for people living in Skid Row.” –
-Julia Posin, Business Owner and Neighborhood Councilmember, Little Tokyo/Arts District

“I lived in Los Angeles for 35 years. I’m a cancer survivor and I’ve spoken with neighborhood councils about why we need healthcare for all. Many on the neighborhood council boards will bring up their own experience of health care despair. One board member shared that she worked full-time but, after paying her rent, she can’t afford health insurance. Now she is worried about getting sick. Another got choked up regarding the desperation she often feels as a disabled person who can’t afford the medication she needs. Right now, we’re denying care to make profits; we need single-payer Medicare for All.”
-Cheng-Sim, Cancer Survivor and Filmmaker

“I have been without insurance since my boss took away my healthcare benefit three years ago. Medicare for All will take away employer control and their ability to leverage that over workers. A majority of union members support Medicare For All. We need to take health care off of the bargaining table so that workers can secure better wages and benefits for themselves.”
-Ryan Andrews, SAG Union Member, Democratic Socialists of America

“I am a cancer survivor and I have been on both sides of the fence as I joined Medicare just a year ago. What I have to say is not having to argue with places for authorization for screenings that I am recommended to get has been wonderful.”
-Mark, American Federation of Musicians Local 47

“Like many Angelinos I am self-employed. When I was pregnant, I had to work 18 hours a day till 3:00 in the morning so I could pay for the birth of my first child. My pregnancy was not full-term. Exhaustion forced my doctor to induce labor to save my son. Instead of celebrating a beautiful life event, I was crying, thinking no mother should be forced to choose between paying rent or paying for a pediatrician. Please vote “yes” on Medicare For All, for the sake of all the working families.”
-Emily, Self-Employed

“This is a life and death issue. People are dying every single day because of lack of health insurance. Even folks who have good insurance are losing everything they worked to build, their American Dream, because of the greed of our health insurance companies. We need Medicare for All, we need to catch up with the rest of the world and provide healthcare to our population.”
-Mari Lopez, National Nurses United

“I was reminded a couple of years ago why we need single-payer healthcare. Even though I had very good health insurance, there was a glitch where I went and got a physical and my bloodwork was sent to Quest Diagnostics Laboratory, with which my insurance plan had lapsed, just for three days, and that was the window when I got the blood test, so I got the bill for $1000. After over a year and multiple appeals, I was able to get that reversed, but it took a lot of effort on my part to appeal that and fight that, and it was also a year of grief.”
-Jesús, Democratic Socialists of America

“My sister has rheumatoid arthritis. She has to get a medication monthly that was originally $2,500 and then when another pharmaceutical company bought the patent for that drug, they bumped it up even more and her copay is $2,500. This is ridiculous and if we had Medicare for All we would have leverage over what pharmaceutical companies can charge us and people would be able to survive.”
-Kris, Business Owner

“Fifteen years ago, my daughter spent months in the hospital for an immune disorder, and the cost was $800,000. If we didn’t have insurance, she may not be alive today…

[Medicare for All] would bring a major savings in administrative costs, lower drug prices, improved efficiency of the healthcare system. If it did wind up costing us a little money, we could find that with the incredible tax cuts making the wealthy even wealthier.”

-Councilmember Paul Koretz

“I say there is nothing more local than this. These are our people getting sick, our people making a choice between sending their kids to school or paying a prescription or buying a meal…

Medicare for all would actually save the city money. We would be paying less in overhead for medicare than we would be the untold millions that we pay for private corporate insurance. And that means we have more money here to spend on our parks, or on our streets or hiring more firefighters or addressing homelessness.”

-Councilmember Mike Bonin

“I’ve been advocating for single payer for decades. It’s about time that we move forward. It is painful to see where we are right now. The idea is we want to incentivize actual healthcare, we want incentivize prevention. How do you do that? You do that with single payer medicare for all…

I’m glad to be up here and I cast my yes vote and to help us as a city make this statement that we need to move forward on a single payer system.”

-Councilmember Bob Blumenfeld

“Today we have an opportunity to affirm that healthcare is a fundamental human right. And we are one of the biggest cities in this country and I think that it’s important that we do what we need to do to lead the way. And I wonder when the history books are written about this chapter in the life of this country, what will it say about us?…

Los Angeles, let’s take the United States of America in the right direction.”

-Council President Herb Wesson