Western Mass. Medicare for All has been working at the municipal level this spring and is glad to report two recent victories. The Holyoke City Council voted overwhelmingly on May 7thto pass a resolution in support of the state bill, “An Act to Establish Medicare for All in Massachusetts.” This success was largely the result of great organizing by WMM4A’s Holyoke hub, hosted by the Pioneer Valley chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.
A non-binding ballot question in support of Single Payer healthcare passed in Holyoke last November with a 67% “yes” vote. Hub members had canvassed door to door for several months and the question passed in every ward: not only in the most liberal wards, but also in more conservative ones.
The Holyoke hub also met with their elected officials to gain support. After hearing the results of the ballot question last year, Rep. Aaron Vega signed on as a co-sponsor of the state bill for the first time. He spoke at a spirited rally before the Council meeting along with Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, lead sponsor of the House bill, and Mayor Alex Morse.
Several Holyoke residents also made strong public statements before the Council deliberated on the resolution. They described how the current health care system has failed them personally and failed the community.
The next night, on May 8th, the Town Meeting of South Hadley also passed a resolution in support of the state bill with a vote of 66 to 31. Again, the large margin of victory was mainly due to energetic organizing by the South Hadley hub of WMM4A. For months before the Town Meeting vote, the hub met with public officials to discuss the financial impact of Single Payer on the municipal budget. In addition to writing several letters to the editor for the local press, they also sent information about Single Payer to all Town Meeting members, hosted a special showing of “Fix It” for them, and spoke at a pre-TM information session.
More municipal resolutions are planned in Western Mass. for the fall. These resolutions have been a great way to raise visibility around the issue of Single Payer, attract media attention, educate our local and state officials, and strengthen our own skills in civic engagement. For information contact us at info[at]wmMedicareforall.org. We are glad to talk with folks interested in organizing in their own town or city.