During this year’s 47th Annual Legislative Conference also known as Congressional Black Caucus week held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C. September 20-24 , U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) held a press conference call to discuss her first nine months in office. Harris discussed civil rights, health care, immigration, and her work to support California’s African-American community.
This was the first Congressional Black Caucus convention for Harris as Senator, as conversation and concern loomed as Republican Senators attempted for the second time a new Graham – Cassidy healthcare bill.
While we asked the Senator about her co-authoring of the Bernie Sanders Single Payer Healthcare Bill she cautioned Black journalist’s to stay focused on the current challenge of keeping Obamacare the law of the land. “It is about saying that healthcare is a right for all, not a privilege for a few,” Harris stated.
However, the week before Harris joined Sanders and 15 members of the Democratic caucus and introduced legislation to guarantee health care to every American by expanding and improving Medicare. The Medicare for All Act of 2017 which establishes a national health insurance program called the Universal Medicare Program. Under this legislation, every resident of the United States will receive health insurance through an expanded Medicare program with improved and comprehensive benefits.
“Healthcare should not be thought of as a partisan issue – it’s a nonpartisan issue,” Harris stated. “Cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure affects folks around our country regardless of whether they are in a red state or a blue state, regardless of their income, and regardless of their status. We should not differentiate in the way that we do public health policy and we should understand that everyone should receive the healthcare they need regardless of where they live, their income, or their zip code. That is what this bill is about, and I’m proud to co-sponsor the Medicare for All Act.
The Act would ensure that Americans will no longer have to delay or avoid going to the doctor because they can’t afford it; that a hospital stay will not bankrupt you or leave you deeply in debt; that you will be able to get the prescription drugs you need at a price you can afford; that middleclass families will never have to spend 20 or 30 percent of their incomes on health care; and, that Americans will save billions of dollars a year in medical administrative costs.
Under this bill, Americans will benefit from the freedom and security that comes with finally separating health insurance from employment. As is the case in every other major country, employers would be free to focus on running their businesses rather than spending an enormous amount of time, energy and money trying to provide health insurance to their employees.
Harris continued, “Taxpayers of the United States deserve a better return on their investment. We know the public health model shows us so well, if you want to deal with an epidemic, the smartest, most effective, and cheapest way to deal with it is prevention first. That means early intervention. If we’re dealing with it in the emergency room, it’s too little, too late and it’s too expensive. Let’s give the taxpayers of the United States a better return on their investment, which means Medicare for All.”
The bill has been endorsed by 30 national organizations and unions including: Labor Campaign for Single Payer, Our Revolution, Social Security Works, Progressive Campaign Change Committee, Democracy for America, Working Families Party, MoveOn, All of Us, Demand Progress, Health Care Now, Progressive Democrats of America, CREDO, Public Citizen, Latinos for Healthcare Equality, Americans for Democratic Action, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, DailyKos, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, 350.org, American Sustainable Business Council, LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens), National Nurses United, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, New York Nurses Association, Utility Workers Union of America, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, United Mine Workers of America, Amalgamated Transit Union and Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
Harris remained busy during the convention delivering brief remarks at a screening of the film
“Marshall,” about a young Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court Justice, as he battles through one of his career-defining cases. The film stars Chadwick Boseman, directed by Reginald Hudlin and is set to hit theatres October 13.
Next she delivered remarks at a reception held in her honor for CBC week, hosted by Universal Music Group and Ebony Magazine. Harris remarks included, “This is a moment in time for all of us to speak truth about what is going on. All of those executives like Jeff Harleston, who sit in those rooms where important decisions are being made about what the message will be, and how it will be spoken and whether it will reflect the truth. As we party and enjoy all of the success of all the individuals in this room, let’s also continue to support black press. Support black media. That’s the press that will speak the truth that the country must hear.”
Harris also accepted the President’s Award at the Black Women’s Agenda, Inc. 40th Annual Symposium Workshop and Awards Luncheon. The President’s Award is the highest award given by The Black Women’s Agenda (BWA) for exemplifying the ideals and goals of BWA, including upholding the rights of black women and their families.