Hundreds of nurses and their allies from across the country rallied Monday outside the headquarters of the pharmaceutical industry’s top lobbying group and plastered the GoFundMe pages of Americans “suffering in an immoral healthcare system” to the building’s walls and windows.
“The people inside this building spent $28 million on lobbying last year to keep prescription drug prices so unaffordable that some of our patients needlessly die.”
—Zenei Cortez, National Nurses United
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, spends tens of millions of dollars a year lobbying on a variety of healthcare issues, and it is currently bankrolling efforts to crush Medicare for All.
“We are here today—at the headquarters of PhRMA—because this is the scene of a crime,” said Zenei Cortez, president of National Nurses United (NNU), which organized the demonstration in Washington, D.C.
“The people inside this building spent $28 million on lobbying last year to keep prescription drug prices so unaffordable that some of our patients needlessly die,” said Cortez.
Following their rally, nurses used Band-Aids to cover the walls of PhRMA’s headquarters with the GoFundMe pages of Americans who have been forced to crowdsource their medical expenses under the for-profit healthcare system.
According to GoFundMe’s CEO, a third of all donations on the fundraising platform go toward healthcare costs.
The nurses’ day of action comes just 24 hours before the House Rules Committee is set to hold its first-ever congressional hearing on Medicare for All, which NNU celebrated as a “historic” step toward achieving a just and cost-effective healthcare system.
During a speech at Monday’s rally, Renelsa Caudill, RN, told the audience that “it is disgusting to me that profit comes from denying care.”
“The way to stop this is by passing Medicare for All,” said Caudill, “and I’m here to tell you that nurses across the country are going to fight for it.”
Barkan joined the nurses’ rally outside of PhRMA’s headquarters on Monday.
Because Barkan can no longer speak due to his condition, Darius Gordon of the Center for Popular Democracy read remarks on the activist’s behalf:
In addition to rallying and marching for single-payer, nurses from across the nation will also be on Capitol Hill all week pressuring lawmakers to support Medicare for All legislation, which has been introduced in both the House and Senate.
“The nurses are back in town,” said Kathy Kennedy, RN, “and… we are here for one reason and one reason only, and that is to get Medicare for All.”
Trish Gonzalez, RN, said “what we’re really fighting for is our patients.”
“Medicare for All is what we need in this country for people to not just have access to healthcare but to be provided healthcare,” Gonzalez said. “Nobody should have a GoFundMe account to pay for their healthcare, and we’re here to make sure that that stops.”
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