New York Health Care Activists Regroup After Successful (so far) 9-Month Campaign to “Save Our Health Care!”

It’s been a whirlwind of activities since the beginning of January as many groups and unions joined forces to stop moves in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), decimate Medicaid as we have known it for over a half a century, and cut-off funding for family planning services provided by Planned Parenthood. Nationally, Health Care for America Now (HCAN), the national umbrella campaign that pushed the ACA through Congress back in 2009-10, was revived to form a field operation out in the states, and the new “Protect Our Care” collaboration among national groups based in Washington, DC worked Capitol Hill and undertook messaging research.


Here in New York, we helped to lead HCAN’s New York City Organizing Committee, and participated in HCAN’s New York State Network. Across the state, local coalitions were formed in strategic congressional districts to engage their local congressmember, inform their constituents about what was happening and mobilize them to take action, and help local media understand what was at stake for local communities.

Here in New York City, our focus was on the 11th District comprised of Staten Island and the southwest Brooklyn communities of Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights, Ft. Hamilton, and Gravesend. Local grassroots groups came together as “NY-11 for Health Care”, building on collaboration they’ve been doing since 2009. On a citywide level, we organized events to respond to developments in Congress, and contribute to various National Days of Action. We also helped to resource a coalition of local physician groups (#nydocs) that formed to project the voices of medical professionals into the debate.


Here’s the list of 2017 Organization and Union Partners in HCAN-NYC’s “Campaign to Save Our Health Care”:
• 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East*
• ACT UP New York
• Caring for US Indivisible
• Center for Independence of the Disabled-New York
• Center for Popular Democracy
• Children’s Defense Fund of New York
• Citizen Action of New York City
• Committee of Interns and Residents, SEIU Healthcare**
• Communications Workers of America, District One, Local 1102*, Local 1109*, and Local 1180
• Community Service Society of New York
• District Council 37, AFSCME
• Doctors Council, SEIU Healthcare**
• Doctors for America, New York Chapter**
• El Centro del Inmigrante*
• Empire State Medical Association, Manhattan Central Medical Society**
• Fight Back Bay Ridge*
• Get Organized Brooklyn
• Greater NYC for Change
• Healthcare Education Project, 1199SEIU and Greater New York Hospital Association*
• Housing Works
• Make the Road New York*
• Medicare Rights Center
• Metro New York Health Care for All* **
• Move Forward Staten Island*
• National Physicians Alliance, New York Chapter**
• New York Immigration Coalition
• New York State Nurses Association*
• New York Statewide Senior Action Council
• Physicians for a National Health Program, New York Metro Chapter**
• Progressive Doctors**
• Project Hospitality*
• Radical Aging
• Raising Women’s Voices-New York
• Rise and Resist
• South Brooklyn Progressive Resistance*
• Staten Island Family Health Coalition*
• Staten Island for Change/OFA*
• Staten Island Peace Action*
• Staten Island Women Who March*
• Strong Economy for All
• Upper East Side for Change/OFA
• Upper West Side MoveOn-Indivisible Group
• West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing

(* Participants in “NY-11 for Health Care”) (** Participants in “#nydocs”)


…And here’s a list of ALL that we did together (in various configurations):

• Dec. 22 – “Protect Our Care” speak-out outside Staten Is. office of Rep. Dan Donovan, hosted by Staten is. for Change
• Jan. 5 – “Protect Our Patients” press conference featuring leaders of NYC physician groups and NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett, at the Catherine Abate Health Center on Manhattan’s Lower East Side
• Jan. 13 – “Health Care is a Human Right” rally outside Trump Tower, in conjunction with NYC single-payer advocacy groups
• Jan. 13 – Solidarity March to a rally for striking Momentive workers, in conjunction with CWA District One
• Jan. 15 – “Medicare for All” rally at the Wall St. Bull at Bowling Green, in conjunction with National Nurses United and NYS Nurses Assoc.
• Jan 18 – NYC kick-off of “Save Our Care” national bus tour, at City Hall with Deputy Mayor Herminia Palacio
• Jan. 19 – “Candlelight Vigil for Health Care” outside the Staten Island office of Rep. Dan Donovan, led by NY-11 for Health Care
• Jan. 21 – “Women’s March NYC” health care contingent, from the UN to Trump Tower, led by PNHP NY Metro


• Feb. 3 – Meeting of Health Care for America Now’s NYS Network, at 1199 SEIU in Albany
• Feb. 21 – “Save Our Health Care” rally outside the Bay Ridge office of Rep. Dan Donovan, led by NY-11 for Health Care
• Feb. 23 – Health Care Town Hall in Stapleton, Staten Island, in conjunction with the Healthcare Education Project
• Feb. 25 – “Protect Our Patients” speak-out at the Bay Ridge office of Rep. Dan Donovan, in conjunction with NYC physician and nursing groups

• Mar. 12 – Health care forum hosted by United Through Action, at the Church of the Village in Greenwich Village
• Mar. 17 – Press conference at the Bay Ridge Senior Center, led by the Healthcare Education Project and AARP/NY
• Mar. 21 – “Medicaid Block Grants Kill” protest outside 26 Federal Plaza, led by Rise and Resist
• Mar. 30 – ACT UP/New York 30th Anniversary March and Action, from NYC AIDS Memorial to Union Square


• Apr. 1 – “March for Health”, from Trump Tower to Columbus Circle, led by a variety of physician groups including #nydocs
• Apr. 19 – Health Care Town Hall in Bay Ridge, hosted by Fight Back Bay Ridge, South Brooklyn Progressive Resistance, and allies
• Apr. 25 – Meetings with Capitol Hill offices of NY Members of Congress, as part of People’s Action convention

• May 7 – Press conference with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand at her NYC office
• May 9 – “Protect Our Public Schools and Health Care” protest outside Success Academy in Harlem, during a visit by House Speaker Paul Ryan, led by the Alliance for Quality Education and allies


• June 3-4 – Workshop Sessions at the 2017 Justice Works conference, in Albany
• June 21-22 – “24-Hour Vigil to Save Our Health Care” in Columbus Circle, opposite Trump International Hotel; led by Rise and Resist
• June 22 – “Statewide Health Care Advocates Strategic Planning Meeting”, jointly hosted by Health Care for All New York, Medicaid Matters New York, and Health Care for America Now, at 1199 SEIU in Albany
• June 23 – Press Conference with Sen. Charles Schumer, at Bellevue Hospital
• June 27 – Multi-Stakeholder Day of Capitol Hill Visits with members of the New York Congressional delegation
• June 28 – “Emergency Vigil to Save Our Health Care” solidarity action in Foley Square, across from Federal Plaza

• July 6 – “Koch Addiction Kills Our Health Care!” symbolic funeral march, led by Rise and Resist
• July 10 – “Faso Fat Cats Make Us Sick!” protest outside an NYC fundraiser for Rep. John Faso, joint with NYS Nurses Assoc., 1199 SEIU, and Rise and Resist
• July 15 – Press conference with Rep. Carolyn Maloney, at Bellevue Hospital
• July 24 – Medicare for All rally, in Union Square
• July 26 – Health care unions press conference at City Hall, led by 1199 SEIU and NYS Nurses Assoc.
• July 29 – “Our Lives Are Still on the Line” Victory and Recommitment Rally


• Aug. 4 – Anniversary Celebration of Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP, hosted by the NYS Nurses Association
• Aug. 13 – Solidary Rally Against White Supremacy in the U.S, in conjunction with Rise and Resist

• Sept. 22 – Press conference about the “Graham-Cassidy” bill outside the Staten Island office of Rep. Dan Donovan, led by NY-11 for Health Care
• Sept. 23 – “Funeral March to Bury TrumpCare” in Times Square, in conjunction with Rise and Resist
• Sept. 25 – Press conference with members of the NYC congressional delegation, NYC Councilmembers, and HCAN members

In the end, grassroots activism proved essential to stopping Congress from its attacks on the ACA, Medicaid, and Planned Parenthood …for the 2017 federal fiscal year. However, debate is now starting in Congress over various proposals for tax cut and spending bills for the new 2018 fiscal year that started on October 1st. Health care and a wide range of related social programs will be squarely in the bullseye again in the process, so our work to protect and improve health care programs continues. Medicare, Medicaid, family planning, and the ACA are all at risk. No rest for the weary!


On the positive side, Sen. Bernie Sanders recently introduced his long-awaited “Medicare-for-All” universal health care bill. While not likely to be taken up in the current Congress, this bill provides a goal we can all point to as where the U.S. needs to go once the current doings in Congress are squashed once and for all.

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