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Chicago nurses, community leaders plan celebration for Medicare's 50th anniversary

National Nurses United, July 23, 2015

CHICAGO -- Registered nurses and other community leaders will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid Thursday July 30 with a festive event and action in Chicago.

The celebration is part of a national day of action, in over 25 U.S. cities, that calls on policy makers to protect, improve, and expand Medicare to cover all Americans with a single standard of quality care not based on ability to pay. The overall theme is  "Medicare is as American as Apple Pie," i.e. to Protect, Improve and Expand (PIE) Medicare to cover everyone.

"After 50 years, we have a lot of experience with Medicare, enough time to see that it works, has kept tens of millions of Americans out of poverty, and remains enormously popular,” said NNU Co-President Jean Ross, RN, who will be one of the event's speakers.

Details on the Chicago event:

What: Celebration and Protest Action for Medicare's 50th Anniversary
When: Thursday, July 30 11:30 am - 2 pm. Protest action at Humana 11:45 a.m.
Where: Heritage Green Park, 610 W. Adams (at Des Plaines)
Protest action at Humana, 550 W. Adams

As part of the day's activities, a protest will be held at Humana health insurance, to highlight the problems with privatization proposals put forth by Medicare opponents, such as Rep. Paul Ryan. Efforts to even partially privatize Medicare, such as through the Medicare Advantage program, through companies like Humana, costs much more than public delivery of healthcare through traditional Medicare, nurses say. The action will underscore the fact that while Medicare's administrative costs remain very low at 1.6%, Humana has charged billions of dollars in "administrative costs," that should have gone directly to patient care.

“Schemes to privatize or erode Medicare would be devastating for many, many people. The best way to protect Medicare is to upgrade it and expand it to cover everyone. It is time for this country to catch up with other nations and implement a universal system of guaranteed healthcare,” Ross said.

"The Affordable Care Act has failed to eliminate the vast numbers of uninsured and underinsured. It is weak in its attempt to control costs as insurance companies seek to increase their rates. A Medicare-for-all system would be a strong negotiator for fair pricing and give truly equitable access for all," said Duane Dowell, M.D. a retired pediatrician and past president of Physicians for a National Health Program-Illinois.

"July 30th marks the 50th anniversary of the successful Medicare program. In order to guarantee access to comprehensive, high quality health care for all residents in the U.S. Medicare has to be improved and extend to everyone from birth to death. Everybody in, nobody out," said Sonja Rotenberg, Board President, Illinois Single Payer Coalition.

The event is co-sponsored by National Nurses United, Illinois Single Payer Coalition, Physicians for A National Health Plan, Alliance for Community Services, Chicago Federation of Labor, Champaign County AFL-CIO, Northern Illinois Jobs with Justice, Chicago Jobs with Justice, Health and Medicine Policy Research Group, Radical Public Health, Students for a National Health Plan, Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans, Fox Valley Citizens for Peace and other co-sponsoring organizations.

The day of action for Medicare's 50th anniversary includes actions in Boston and Western Massachusetts, Chicago, Dearborn, Detroit, El Paso, Tx., Lakewood, Oh., Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Oakland, Portland, Me., St. Paul, Mn., Washington DC, and other cities, including additional locales to be announced.

Information about events in other cities can be found at: https://www.healthcare-now.org/medicares-anniversary/50th/events/#DC

Source: www.nationalnursesunited.org