Thousands expected for symbolic Longfellow Bridge Walk and Rally on Boston Common
CANTON, Mass. — On June 19, 2004, the Massachusetts Nurses Association will join more than 80 other community and labor organizations from across the Commonwealth in a march from Cambridge to Boston across the Longfellow Bridge to call for health care justice in America. Citizens across the country will march by the tens of thousands in additional regional demonstrations to join the Boston demonstration in their symbolic bridge walk as part of a nationally coordinated “Bridge the Gap March for Health Care for All” day of action.
The demonstration is designed to highlight a growing crisis in health care, where 44 million Americans and more than 600,000 Massachusetts residents lack insurance and millions more are underinsured. Under President Bush, 4 million more Americans lost their coverage, average health care costs have risen nearly 50 percent, and premiums have increased more than three times faster than average wages.
Russ Davis, the director of Jamaica Plain’s Jobs with Justice, which is organizing the local march, explains that the event has attracted an impressive range of people from 80 area organizations, including labor, women’s, immigrants’, veterans’, and seniors’ groups. "It’s a people’s movement," Davis says. "This issue affects literally every segment of society except the extremely rich. People feel like there’s a failure to recognize this as a major crisis."
"For nurses, walking that bridge and standing up for reform of the health care system is our moral obligation. Nurses will be marching because we are tired of witnessing the needless suffering of too many patients who are under our care simply because they lack adequate insurance and access to preventive care. They are in the hospital because they have had to delay treatment until it is too late. They are there because they lack adequate prescription drug coverage and their conditions have deteriorated for lack of basic medications; and once they are there, they are receiving substandard care because of poor staffing conditions caused by failed health care policies," said Barbara Cooke, RN, a frontline nurse at Brockton Hospital and member of the Board of Directors of the MNA who will speak at the rally.
Organizers hope the march will mark the first step in a movement for fundamental American health-care reform. The Bridge the Gap March for Health Care for All kicks off at Kendall Square in Cambridge at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 19 and will culminate with a rally on the Boston Common at 12 noon. For more information, contact Jobs with Justice at 617.524.8778, or visit its Web site at www.massjwj.net.