Northwoods residents gather to support Medicare For All bill

By Evan Verploegh
The Lakeland Times (Minocqua, Wisc.), April 14, 2017

A group of roughly 50 gathered at Torpy Park in Minocqua on April 7 to express their support for H.R. 676, also known as the Expanded and Improved Medicare For All Act.

With periodic support given by honks and thumbs up from passersby, the rally was deemed a success by the Northwood Progressive group, who organized the event. Attendees held signs and peacefully shared their encouragement for the bill to pass through congress.

"No one has given me 'the finger' yet," said a participant of the rally after an hour. "There's still time, though."

H.R. 676 establishes the Medicare For All Act, which seeks to provide cost-free health services for medically-necessary care. This includes primary care and prevention, dietary and nutritional therapies, prescription drugs, emergency care, long-term care, mental health services, dental services, and vision care.

Under the bill, health insurers would not be permitted to sell health insurance that would duplicate the benefits of H.R. 676, but would be allowed to sell services deemed unnecessary, such as cosmetic procedures.

The program would be funding by five major sources: (1.) Existing sources of government revenues for health care. (2.) Increasing income tax on the top 5 percent earners in the United States. (3.) Instituting a progressive excise tax on payroll and self-employment income. (4.) Taxation of unearned income, such as interest, dividends and capital gains. (5.) Tax on stock and bond transactions.

The bill also includes language that would provide employment transition benefits for those who would lose their positions with the institution of H.R. 676.

Further, Indian Health Service would be integrated into the program after five years. Congress would also evaluate the current independence of Department of Veterans Affairs health programs.

The single-payer system was introduced to the U.S. House by Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.).

In the wake of administration change, the Northwoods Progressives have been ever-active in conducting similar rallies for causes such as the Women's March and condemning President Trump's travel ban for residents of selected Muslim countries.

"I've been protesting for over 20 years in the area, and I've never seen the kind of political activism that I have in the last few months," Jerry Woolpy, Northwoods Progressives organizer said. "For awhile, I didn't know if there was anyone else. The support that has been shown has been inspiring."

The group will host a March for Science at 10 a.m. on Earth Day, April 22. Beginning at the Calvary Lutheran Church in Minocqua, those in attendance will march to Torpy Park, where a rally will be held.