Nurses speak out for Single Payer:
How To Build a Grassroots Movement? By Saying 'Yes!'
--Rachel Prusak, Family Nurse Practitioner and Vice President of Nurses for Single Payer
Since supporting the medical arm of the Women’s March in Portland, I’ve looked for more ways to get involved in the effort to build a grassroots movement for the resistance. To this end, I decided to make the month of May, “the Month of Yes.” If I was asked by anyone to help with anything, the answer was 'yes!' I found myself on panel discussions, testifying at the state house, attending rallies and participating in fundraisers. Every event shared a common theme: the need to build a strong grassroots movement that can finish what it starts. We can't wait for the politicians to lead us. That is not what politicians do. We, the activists, need to lead. We need to fight. We need to win!
So here was my 'Month of Yes' in a nutshell:
On May 7th, I said yes and joined Nurses for Single Payer, the Health Care Committee for Portland Jobs with Justice, and Health Care for All-Oregon for a screening of the documentary Now Is The Time at Portland’s Clinton Street Theatre. The film highlights the growing nationwide movement to achieve the type of universal, publicly funded health care enjoyed by all the other advanced industrialized nations in the world and exposes the forces preventing us from winning single payer health care for all. Following the film, I joined panelists for a spirited discussion with the audience about single payer health care and how to make it a reality here in Oregon. The lively audience asked great questions, and many mentioned interest in hosting an event to screen the film. All panelists offered support in screening efforts, including offers to come to house parties, and encouraged people to visit the Now Is The Time website to get copy of the DVD,
On May 13th, I said yes to sponsor a table and attend the Celsi fundraiser and celebration, “We the People” with other HCAO and NFSP members. The fundraiser brought together politicians, civic leaders and community members who support the shared commitment to progressive values. The speakers celebrated the many volunteers and legislators who work tirelessly to cultivate the activism and grassroots engagements of the progressive movement that so important today. The best part of the night was hearing the push for single payer from every political leader that came to the stage, including Merkley, Blumenauer, Dembrow, Keney-Guyer and guest speaker former Congressman Les AuCoin. It's inspiring to hear a roomful of people applaud at every mention of the phrase, 'single payer!'
On May 19th, I said yes to attending a rally and press conference with Sen. Merkley. I, as well as other members of NFSP and HCAO showed up to support the fight against the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Alongside Merkley were nurses, physicians and patients ready to speak out against repealing the ACA. My favorite quote of the event came from ONA member Teri Mills, RN, MS, CNE, who for decades has been a stalwart advocate for expanding access to accessible, affordable health care for all Oregonians. She stated, “We should not be repealing and replacing this bill. What we should be doing is repairing what does not work. The nursing profession adheres to a non-negotiable Code of Ethics. And if you think Congress is tough, believe me you do not want to mess with a group of nurses! Our pledge is to promote health, prevent illness and alleviate suffering. We will continue to fight alongside Senator Merkley to make sure that Medicaid funding is protected, pre-existing conditions are covered and every Oregonian receives the care that they need and deserve.” Watch Live HERE.
The running theme of all this action is continuity and constituency. We as voters can be our own leaders. We as a community need to stand together, create a grassroots movement and fight. The movement is rising. The reality is that it will take a massive progressive movement to turn our country in a healthier direction, so I encourage everyone to say "Yes" to joining organizations, to boycott, to protests. Say "Yes" to speaking up and speaking out. Of course, not everyone can do everything. Life can get in the way. But there are so many avenues of communication and action. Some of us can call and write our representatives; some of us can attend rallies and marches; some of us can edit newsletters or post on social media; some of us can donate money. If you believe in health care for all, please find your own way of helping and saying "Yes!" Grassroots advocacy is all about banding together like-minded people for a single purpose. When we speak with one voice we can begin to change the world around us. We know the questions and we know the answer. The answer is "Yes!"