North Texas Daily

Alumni play crucial role in passing of Medicare for All

Alumni play crucial role in passing of Medicare for All

Alumni play crucial role in passing of Medicare for All
June 02
11:00 2022

Denton City Council passed a resolution endorsing Medicare for All on May 17, making it the first municipality in Texas and 100th nationally to support the passage of the act federally.

The resolution passed 4-3, with council members Vicki Byrd, Brian Beck, Allison Maguire and Brandon Chase McGee voting in favor and Jesse Davis, Gerard Hudspeth and Chris Watts voting in opposition.

If passed federally, Medicare for All would guarantee health care to all U.S. citizens. Currently the U.S. is one of the only major countries in the world to not provide universal health care to its citizens.

The resolution was spearheaded by the North Texas chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, who worked with several UNT alumni to pitch it to City Council. Among those involved were DSA regional organizer Sean Kirkpatrick, political communications worker Priscilla Yeverino and Karla Palomares, precinct chair 2557 for the Tarrant County Democratic party.

Kirkpatrick had been working with DSA to get the resolution passed for a year and a half when Yeverino got involved. As Latinx women — a group that is often underinsured — it was important to both Yeverino and Palomares for the resolution to pass.

“It’s an issue that impacts students, poor and working families, disabled folks, folks without homes, immigrant families and so many other communities,” Yeverino said. “The wealthiest country should grant healthcare to all people, as healthcare is a right, not a privilege.”

Kamyon Conner, activist and executive director for the Texas Equal Access Fund, and Alex Moon, Denton resident and general manager for Harvest House were also involved in helping pass the resolution.

Moon says the reason he decided to get involved is because of the freedom Medicare for All would give servers to pursue passions they normally would not be able to because of their lack of access to health care.

“If you want to be a musician or an artist, the service industry gives you the flexibility to do that,” Moon said. “Unfortunately it is very rare and hard to offer [health care] with these jobs […] So much of our community is a musical artsy town. I mean, there’s even the walk of fame through downtown Denton. It’s sad that within that walk, I know people that are in excruciating medical debt.”

After working on the resolution for nearly two years, Yeverino and her team pitched it to council member and activist Deb Armintor, who worked with them to get it passed.

“They asked me if I would sign onto it and I said absolutely, and I would also be happy to be the one to propose this to the council,” Armintor said.

After working with Armintor and ensuring they had the support of council members Maguire, Beck and Byrd, Yeverino and Conner requested to present at a City Council meeting, where Yeverino gave the main presentation.

Following Yeverino’s presentation, the resolution was added to the agenda of the following work meeting, where Armintor gave a two-minute pitch. The resolution was then pitched again by Conner at the May 17 City Council meeting, where it passed.

Locally, the resolution could save $23,462,000 of Denton City Council’s annual budget– money that would typically be spent on employee health care and benefits, according to council member Maguire.

“In light of all that, I wholeheartedly agree that it’s appropriate for the Denton City Council to voice our support for Medicare for All at the federal level,” Maguire said.

Conversely Mayor Hudspeth voted against the resolution, arguing that Medicare for All is a federal issue, not a local one.

“I didn’t support that because I don’t think it’s the most effective use of time, and it has very little to do with Denton,” Hudspeth said. “It is a national initiative, a national push, and if you look at that group, DSA, they push a lot of stuff that I don’t agree with.”

The best way to support those in need is locally, according to Hudspeth.

“Local government is the closest to the people [and is] able to affect the people the best,” Hudspeth said. “The best way to do that is right here in Denton with current service providers.”

Featured Image: The Denton City Council listens to a speaker during a meeting on March 22, 2022. Photo by Maria Crane

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Madeleine Moore

Madeleine Moore

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