Taylor Hines

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Taylor Hines is a Phoenix Arizona activist. Faculty Associate, Arizona State University.

DSA pressures Stanton on healthcare

In May 2018 local leftists were pushing Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton to support single-payer health care before he resigned to run for Congress.

The Phoenix chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America submitted a citizen petition to the City Council on May 2, urging Stanton and the council to support a universal system of national health insurance like the so-called Medicare for All plans that have been introduced in Congress.

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Because Stanton must resign by May 30 in order to run for Congress under state law, DSA members believe this could be their last opportunity to compel him to take a stand on single-payer.

Citizen petitions are a simple way to force an item onto the City Council’s agenda. Per the city charter, any individual can submit a written petition, and the council is required to act on it within 15 days. As a result, the council must take some action on DSA’s petition at its formal meeting on Wednesday.

Council members could approve DSA’s symbolic resolution supporting single-payer health care, or approve a version of the petition that does not go as far as the DSA health care goal (which is a single, tax-funded public health insurance program for all U.S. residents). Council members also might deny the petition outright.

Of course, the City Council doesn’t set national health care policy, which city staff noted in a brief response to the petition: “The City Council does not have the authority to change federal law.”

So, approving the petition would mean a statement of support and nothing more.

DSA members, however, see an election-year opportunity to push Stanton on an issue that has become a litmus test for Democrats.

“In this political climate, a lot of Democrats are trying to establish themselves as progressive candidates,” said DSA Phoenix member Taylor Hines, 31, the chair of DSA Phoenix’s health justice caucus. “I think this is just another opportunity to show that they are serious about progressive reforms.”[1]

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