Government

Speakers make the case for Bernie Sanders and Medicare for All at Coe College town hall

30 attend town hall on Coe College campus

Dr. Victoria Dooley of Flint, Mich., speaks Thursday night about her support for Sen. Bernie Sanders because of his commitment to Medicare for All. She was among three speakers at a town hall at Coe College. (Cliff Jette/Freelance for The Gazette)
Dr. Victoria Dooley of Flint, Mich., speaks Thursday night about her support for Sen. Bernie Sanders because of his commitment to Medicare for All. She was among three speakers at a town hall at Coe College. (Cliff Jette/Freelance for The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Imagine that 70 percent of the public favored a change in the status quo.

Then imagine a political party that says “no” to that.

“That’s the Democratic Party,” according to Dr. Victoria Dooley, a Flint, Mich., physician who is supporting Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

“He is the only candidate fully committed to Medicare for All,” she said.

Dooley made the case for Medicare for All and Sanders’ campaign at a Thursday evening town hall at Coe College moderated by Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker, who has endorsed Sanders.

The only way to get guaranteed health care for everyone is if it’s the top priority of the president, three speakers — Dooley, Michael Lighty and Amy Vilela, an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for the U.S. House from Nevada — told about 30 people, a third of them students.

Other candidates may talk about Medicare for All or other significant changes in the health care system, but Lighty, who worked for a nurses union for 25 years and is an adviser on health care issues for the Sanders’ campaign, questioned their commitment.

“There is only one candidate who is fully committed for his entire political life to a reform that will guarantee Medicare for All,” he said.

He believes those who believe in Medicare for All are on the verge of winning, and Iowans can make it happen.

“If Bernie Sanders wins the caucuses, everyone will know Medicare for All is a big reason why,” Lighty said. “You all have that in your power. Take it seriously. It matters.”

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A report Thursday from the University of Virginia’s Sabato’s Crystal Ball, however, found that, based on the performance of 2018 Democratic House candidates, those who supported Medicare for All fared worse than those who did not.

Medicare for All is a “vote loser,” according to Sabato’s analysis of 2018 Democratic challengers and open seat candidates in competitive districts.

Lighty discounted those findings because congressional elections often are decided on local issues or district-specific issues.

“When you’re looking at it nationally, as part of a federal election, it’s a very different dynamic,” and Sanders’ leadership will matter, he said.

He predicted that Medicare for All would be a decisive issue in the caucuses and the 2020 presidential election. Health care is the No. 1 issue for voters, and “majority support for Medicare for All has been maintained despite an escalated campaign against it,” he said.

“That tells you that people’s experience drives their position and that experience is getting worse,” Lighty said. “If they’re going to vote on health care, they’re going to see Sanders as a champion.

“Don’t let any candidate tell you they believe health care is a human right if they keep insurance companies in health care,” Lighty said. “It ain’t a human right if they’re telling you what care you get.”

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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