ORMA statement on the COVID-19 emergency

The ORMA General Assembly that was planned for April 18, 2020 has been postponed due to the global pandemic. We don’t know when it will be safe to reschedule.

The pandemic underscores the importance of ORMA’s goals and ORMA members continue to be actively engaged in advocating for progressive legislation, progressive social action, and progressive candidates.  We all know that as a people we are only as strong as the most vulnerable among us.

In this time of global emergency, here is a list of policies that would have helped in times like these:

  • Medicare for All
  • Universal Childcare
  • Free School Lunches
  • $200/yr Prescription Drug Cost Cap
  • Paid Sick & Family Leave
  • Our trust when we listen to the science community
  • Not bailing out corporations currently tanking in the markets

ORMA demands that our lawmakers order health insurers to waive deductibles and copayments associated with getting tested for the virus if a doctor deems it necessary.

Beyond that, we like the statement from the Democratic Socialists of America on COVID-19, excerpted below, and we support the measures proposed in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, including federal funding for free coronavirus testing for all and paid emergency leave.

However, Congress must go further.

  • Pass Bernie Sanders’ proposed Medicare for All legislation. Only a comprehensive healthcare delivery system, free at the point of use, can mitigate this crisis and its vastly disproportionate impact on poor and working-class people.
  • Pass an emergency moratorium on evictions and on utility shut-offs until the crisis abates. If workers are unable to work because of quarantines, they should not be punished for being unable to pay their rent and utility bills.
  • Take advantage of low oil prices to begin to phase out domestic oil production while introducing aggressive Green New Deal legislation that mandates carbon neutrality by 2030 while creating millions of good, green jobs. Transition our economy off of fossil fuels.
  • Given the torturous conditions, overcrowding, and unaccountable nature of our current incarceration/jail system, ORMA calls for non-violent individuals in prisons, jails, detention centers, and camps to be released from custody and that such facilities be properly staffed with medical teams to ensure the well-being of those who cannot be temporarily released.
  • There should be a moratorium on deportations to ensure that immigrant communities are kept safe and are not discouraged from seeking treatment.
  • A vaccine, when developed, must be free.  Any medicine developed to help with the crisis must be sold at cost.
  • The ICU and ventilator shortage must be addressed.
  • Medical residents, retired medical staff, and other medical personnel should be mobilized, staffed with proper instruction and given personal protective equipment.
  • There should be emergency unemployment assistance at 100% of a worker’s income for ALL people, including those who work for tips, gig workers, domestic workers, and independent contractors.
  • There must be emergency shelters erected, complete with healthcare and food, for the unhoused, domestic violence survivors, and college students.

Finally, all of this social spending should be paid for by taxing the rich. The American working class has repeatedly bailed out the same massive corporations and billionaires that cause and exacerbate crises. The Trump administration’s proposed solution, a payroll tax cut, would not provide any relief for the working class and, in fact, would exacerbate the issue by providing an incentive to continue working, even if sick, particularly for those without remote work settings or paid sick leave, as well as endangering vulnerable populations by gutting funding to Social Security and Medicare. …

Our current system is unequal, unjust, and careening towards disaster.  We implore affiliates to review this COVID-19 Resources Guide for Organizers to form demands and identify resources that can inform our organizing in this crucial moment.

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