On March 10, 2011, the Borough of Fort Lee, NJ endorsed a resolution supporting single-payer healthcare as proposed by HR 676, the “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act.” Fort Lee’s endorsement is one of over 70 state and local governments that have already passed similar resolutions supporting HR 676.
If passed through Congress, HR 676 will create a single-payer healthcare system administered by private entities and funded by the government. The legislation will provide access to health insurance for all Americans.
New Jersey One Plan, One Nation members and healthcare activists Paula Friedman, Matt Shapiro, Bonnie Shapiro, Jeanine Ciliotta, and Edie Garbowitz organized the push to pass the endorsment as part of Healthcare-NOW!’s Win-Win Campaign targeting local government entities–cities, towns, counties, school boards-–in an effort to get them to endorse HR 676.
The activists began by finding their town’s budget and figured out the healthcare costs for one year. Next, they found the city’s total salaries. Under HR 676 employers pay about 4.75% payroll tax on employee salaries. Given Fort Lee’s current health insurance costs and total salaries, the city would save close to $5.5 million a year from the municipal budget alone. They suggested that the savings from the Board of Education budget would be similar, and the Mayor and Council later confirmed that.
The group identified a council person who they thought might be sympathetic. They met with him and gave him a small packet of information–some of which included resolutions passed by other towns, the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders, and the United States Conference of Mayors, as well as evidence of NJ State Government savings of about $2.2 billion. The councilman met with the Mayor and other council members in an Executive Session to discuss the resolution. It was voted on, and passed, at the next open meeting on March 10.