Photo courtesy Ben Fiorillo
Protesters in Harrisburg staging a "die-in" to protest for universal health care
The push for universal healthcare is a serious movement. For Pittsburgh resident Lizzie Anderson, that means getting arrested.
Last week, Anderson and 200 others rallied in Harrisburg and called for the Pennsylvania state government to ensure no cuts were made to Medicaid or the food-stamp program. On June 4, about 30 of the protesters exited the Capitol building, and held a “die-in,” where protesters laid down in front of the doorway until they were arrested. Anderson says getting arrested was necessary to send a message to lawmakers that our current health-care system is not adequate.
“I am a therapist and work with people who can't always get therapy because of our broken health-care system,” says Anderson. “It seems in this country we need to disrupt everyday life to get the obvious done.”
Anderson, a member of social-justice advocacy group Put People First! PA, lives with multiple sclerosis and says health care should be a human right and a public good. She wants Pennsylvania legislators to establish a universal health-care
program. She cites the election victories of Summer Lee and Sara Innamorato
, two women who campaigned on universal health care and will likely be joining the general assembly in 2019, as positive progress on universal health care becoming a reality in the state.
Nationally, however, access to health care could be taking a big hit soon.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently ordered the justice department not to defend
a condition in the Affordable Care Act that mandates people with preexisting conditions qualify for the ACA. Without this condition, millions
of Americans could face more expensive coverage and more difficult access to any health coverage.
Anderson says this move is typical for American health-care systems. “The people who are that are most impacted by lack of health care, are people that have been historically oppressed,” says Anderson.
The protesters in Harrisburg were part of the national Poor People’s Campaign
, a revived 1960s campaign that focuses on reducing poverty and inequality. Anderson says it’s important to think about health care as connected to the nation’s battle against poverty. She says the U.S. has the resources to provide health care to all residents, even its poorest residents.
“This country has the money for universal health care. It’s not about not having enough resources,” says Anderson. “If we put that energy not towards foreign wars, or giving it to the country’s top earners, we would have a totally different health-care system.”