There have been some posts and alerts about attending health care town hall meetings on the blog lately, and I thought I'd post a few thoughts about what I think health care reform should include, and also what the difference is between ACT UP, who are some of the original activists who did direct action around health care, and the current right-wing direct action.
Things health care reform should include (borrowed heavily from our allies in the Prevention Justice Network http://www.preventionjustice.org/blog/untangling-health-care-reform-time-action):
- Create a strong public insurance option.
- Include the Early Treatment for HIV Act (ETHA), giving states the option to make Medicaid available to people living with HIV instead of being ineligible until an AIDS diagnosis as currently required.
- Track and end health disparities, including health disparities for LGBTQ people (for whom health data is not collected and analyzed, so that we don't know and can't address it if there are worse health outcomes for LGBTQ people).
- Expand Medicaid to all low-income adults, in particular childless adults who account for a large number of uninsured people living with HIV.
- Increase eligibility for individuals with incomes up to 200% of the federal poverty level, or change how the federal poverty level is calculated.
And as for the people who are disrupting town hall meetings... AIDS activists have disrupted stuff before, and have bussed in disruptors, but there are some pretty glaring differences between grassroots AIDS activism and what we're seeing at these town hall meetings.
Disruptions are designed to intimidate and silence fellow citizens participating in the democratic process.
Disruptions target meetings that aren't transparent or democratic, and bring those traditionally denied access to power to the table.
Direct action is underwritten by un-democratic interests (lobbyists and big business) and that fact is hidden or lied about.
Activists don't accept funding from the government or pharmaceutical companies and other businesses that profit off of the outcomes of action, and we say who we are and what we're about.
Pre-action teach ins deliberately distort facts and inspire fear and anger (which has led to violent and out of control behavior).
Pre-action teach-ins focus on facts and don't deliberately anger and provoke participants. Activists are encouraged to stay on message, and protest marshalls make sure all participants and bystanders stay safe and calm.