Remarks of Senator Bernie Sanders

Remarks at National Nurses United Endorsement

Let me begin by thanking Rose Ann DeMoro, and the 185,000 members of National Nurses United, for providing high quality healthcare to the American people.

I am honored to have the support of the largest nurse’s union in this country!

Year after year, I have been proud to work with National Nurses United fighting to expand Medicare, fighting to address the nursing shortage in this country, and fighting to make sure that nurses at the VA and all over this country have the right to collectively bargain for decent wages and benefits, among many other things.

There is no job in this country that is more demanding, more important, and more fulfilling than being a nurse.

You take care of our young children when they get sick. You take care of the elderly in their time of need. You take care of our veterans, many of whom have come home with no arms, no legs, and no eyesight.

And, you give people hope that they will live to see a better day.

Last year, when nurses became infected with Ebola after treating sick patients, I marched with you in Oakland to make sure that every nurse in America has the training, the equipment, and the protective gear that they need to stay healthy. And, we need to make sure that gets done.

We have a nursing shortage in this country that we have got to address. We need to make it a national priority to work together to train more nurses, and that’s exactly what I intend to do as your President. We all know that nurses prevent medical errors, reduce health care costs, and help patients recover more quickly. We need to be looking at health outcomes and nurses are the key to making patients healthier.

During the debate over the Affordable Care Act, I was delighted to work with you to substantially increase funding for the National Health Service Corps to provide scholarships and loan repayments for nurses and other health care professionals who work in areas where there is a desperate need for quality healthcare.

As you know, I have spent my career fighting for something that I consider to be a human right. That human right is health care. And let me say loudly and clearly – health care is a right of all people, not a privilege.

The time has come for us to end the international embarrassment of the United States of America, our great country, being the only major country on earth that does not guarantee healthcare to all people as a right. And together – with your help – we are going to end that embarrassment.

All of you here today – nurses who see people at their sickest, at their most vulnerable – understand better than anyone the extent of the tragedy that exists in this country when people have no health insurance.

Every single year thousands of our fellow Americans die because they don’t get the preventive care they need when they should. They wait and wait until the problem can’t be ignored any more and they show up in the emergency room – far sicker than they should have ever gotten. Sick with an illness that could have been prevented, could have been caught far sooner.

And when the doctor or the nurse say well why didn’t you come in when you were first sick, they say well, I didn’t have any health insurance. I didn’t have any money. Or maybe I did have insurance, but my deductible was so high I just couldn’t afford to take the money out of pocket.

That should not happen in the United States of America. When you’re sick, you should be able to access health care. When you go to the hospital, you should not come out in bankruptcy.

Nobody understands that reality more than the National Nurses United!

That’s why I have been proud to work with all of you to guarantee health care as a right of citizenship to every man, woman, and child in this country. The time has come for the United States to join every other major industrialized country and make sure that we have a health care system that works for all of our people.

The time has come for a Medicare for All single payer health care program.

We have got to move towards a healthcare system which is based on providing quality care to all of our people rather than worrying about the profits of the insurance companies.

We have got to move toward a healthcare system which ends the absurdity of Americans paying, by far, the highest price for prescription drugs in the world.

And, we have got to require Medicare to negotiate with the drug companies to lower the outrageously high prices of prescription drugs.

And, do you know what we are also going to do? We are going to impose a financial transactions tax on Wall Street speculators in order to make sure that tuition is free in public colleges and universities throughout this country.

One of the major reasons why the middle class is collapsing, 45 million Americans are living in poverty, and the gap between the very rich and everyone else is growing wider, is because of the greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior on Wall Street.

In my view, if we are going to rebuild the middle class, and allow Americans to get the education, the healthcare, and the jobs they need, we have got to make sure that Wall Street pays its fair share in taxes.

Not only would a tax on Wall Street speculation provide us with the revenue that we need to make a college education tuition free, it would also reduce speculation and encourage Wall Street to invest in the job-creating productive economy.

This is not a radical idea. It was done in this country from 1914-1966. Today, it’s what 40 countries around the world are doing.

And I am very proud to have worked with you on legislation to do just that!

Wall Street has got to understand that it can’t have it all. If we are going to have the best educated workforce in the world and a vibrant middle class, Wall Street has got to pay its fair share in taxes.

And with your support, and the support of millions of other Americans we can build a political revolution in this country that can make this happen.

It’s time to say enough is enough!

We are going to make healthcare a right of all of our people!

We are going to make public colleges and universities tuition free and substantially reduce student loan debt in America!

We are going to make it easier, not harder, for nurses and millions of Americans to join unions and collectively bargain for better wages and benefits!

We are going to rebuild the middle class in America!