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News :: Labor
"Bridge the Gap" actions on June 19 spur movement for health care for all
29 Jun 2004
As the health care system fails more Americans, a movement is growing for a political solution to the crisis of cost, quality and access.
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Bridge Walk from above.JPG
Over a thousand people from 85 labor and community organizations marched across the Longfellow Bridge from Cambridge to the Boston Common on Saturday, June 19 calling for a political solution to the mounting crisis of health care cost, quality and access.

The Boston 'Bridge Walk' was one of 165 actions that occurred in every state calling for quality, affordable health care for all. Other large events also took place in Chicago, New York and San Francisco. National sponsors included Jobs with Justice, SEIU, its Americans for Health Care project, and Rock the Vote (for more info visit

As costs continue to skyrocket, employers are shifting more of the burden to workers or abandoning health care coverage entirely. The trend is leaving record numbers of Americans uninsured – and many more underinsured. And new changes to Medicare are only making matters worse.

The Boston rally featured many people who voiced their growing frustration over a failing health insurance system.

"I'm spending my retirement savings and my son's funds for college education on health care," said Nancy Benson, a recently widowed mother from Marshfield, Mass. "I'm faced with tough choices: do I pay the mortgage or pay for our health insurance? We need an affordable national plan that covers everyone. The politicians better wake up!"

"I'm tired of witnessing the needless suffering of so many patients who lack health insurance, adequate prescription drug coverage, and access to preventive care," said Barbara Cooke, a surgical nurse and board member of the Mass Nurses Association

"Local 2222 members will never forget our three month strike to preserve our health care benefits in 1989 and we will always support those who support us," said John Horgan, a Verizon service tech and member of IBEW Local 2222. "Fifteen years later, we are still fighting employer attacks on our health benefits. The problem can't be solved at the bargaining table, we need a national solution!"

"Even though we provide health care, we can’t afford it for our own families," said Alfred Sandaire, a nursing home worker and member of SEIU Local 2020. "We need a plan that covers all of us."

“Covering everyone under a universal plan is the only way to contain out-of-control costs and affordably 'bridge the gap' between those who have health insurance and those who don't," said Paul Cannon, co-chair of Jobs with Justice's Health Care Action Committee, which has been promoting comprehensive reforms in Massachusetts. "The savings from eliminating insurance industry waste and red tape will keep it affordable and improve the quality of care.” Cannon is President of Teamsters Local 122 in South Boston.

The enthusiasm for the Bridge the Gap actions shows the power of a movement that unites the struggles of union members against health care cost shifting with the outrage that caregivers and community activists feel about cuts in essential health care services.

Between now and the November election, health care reformers have an opportunity to escalate the struggle and further broaden the reform movement by linking up the anger and frustration over the recent Medicare sellout with the campaign for secure, affordable coverage based on its original vision: health care for all!

Rand Wilson is an organizer for Jobs with Justice. He can be reached at rand (at)
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This work is in the public domain