DSA Lobbies for NY Health Act

By Chi A

NYC-DSA members headed to Albany on June 5 for the annual Lobby Day in support of the NY Health Act. If passed, this bill would create a single-payer healthcare system in New York State, outlawing private health insurance. All state residents, including undocumented residents, would be able to access healthcare without the co-pays, premiums, deductibles and other costs associated with our for-profit healthcare system.

The lobby day in Albany is one of the largest events organized by the Campaign for New York Health, a coalition of over 100 organizations, including DSA chapters throughout the state, that have pledged support for the NY Health Act. Over 500 people from nearly every region of the state participated, making it the biggest lobby day in the Campaign’s history. About 30 DSA members from the NYC, Rochester, and Hudson Valley chapters attended.

The day started with a rally in front of the State Capitol, followed by over 80 lobby meetings with both Democratic and Republican state senators, including members of the notorious Independent Democratic Conference (IDC). One group of activists rode their bikes from Brooklyn to Albany to speak at the rally in honor of their friend, a bike messenger who died from a preventable health condition that could have been treated if he had had access to healthcare.

For the last 15 months, NYC-DSA has been holding canvassing events, town halls, panels, and trainings in support of the NY Health Act, first as part of Socialist Feminist Working Group’s universal healthcare campaign, and now as part of the citywide campaign for healthcare justice. After all the hard work we’ve been doing, it was great to meet other coalition partners, exchange ideas, and see how much momentum is growing for universal healthcare. A few of us were able to confront our own State Senators who have yet to endorse the bill. It was gratifying to hold them to account for their lack of leadership on universal healthcare, arguably one of the defining issues in American politics today.

Achieving healthcare justice in New York and nationwide will take more than just lobby days. By building on the work our chapter has been doing in New York City and developing better relationships with our diverse coalition partners, we can build our organizing capacity, mobilize working class folks in our communities, and ultimately achieve a more just healthcare system.