Healthcare in America is a system that can provide incredible, life-saving care and treatment, yet it is accessible for only the wealthiest Americans to use. No one should avoid medical care due to cost or go into debt seeking care. Health care is a human right and rather than piecemeal solutions, we need comprehensive and universal solutions like Medicare For All. These solutions need to recognize the struggles of workers in the mental health care industry—such as unionized workers at Journey Mental Health Center—and allow for workers to organize within their workplace. While we demand Medicare For All at the national level, our community can take steps forward to make universal mental health care a reality.
We need to:
- Make all funding decisions for health, public health, and safety-net programs through an equity lens
- Require that all City employees’ health care coverage includes gender transition
- Prioritize the local public health infrastructure to monitor problems and provide evidence-based interventions, support, and data essential to improving population health and informing local policies
- Implement initiatives that promote clean air and environments for the health, safety, and comfort of all, including people with respiratory illness.
- Recognize racism as a public health crisis, with a multifaceted response, providing adequate funding, and leadership by those most impacted.
- Center public health responses to opioid abuse, alcohol abuse, drug and other addictions that emphasize treatment rather than criminalize illness.
- Universal Mental Health Care: Regardless of the cause or condition, all people have a right to receive quality mental health and addiction treatment. Commercial insurance and privatized Medicaid have failed to provide care for the mental health of our community, and it’s time to find a new solution. We propose that Dane County implement universal mental health care insurance coverage that would cover all county residents, children and adults alike. The coverage would include outpatient therapy, psychiatry and medication, substance use and addiction treatment, and inpatient care.
- Emergency Mental Health Response: Currently, Dane County and Madison use law enforcement officers to respond to mental health emergencies. We support Mayor Rhodes-Conway’s proposal to build alternative emergency response services for mental health crises.
Treatment, Not Prison: Countless people end up in our jails and prisons due to a lack of addiction and mental health treatment options. Often, incarceration is the result of a lack of resources and space available at existing treatment providers. We demand that Dane County build a crisis center providing non-carceral inpatient and outpatient addiction and mental health treatment, as well as homelessness intervention.
The body is an essential location for the intersection of ageism, sexism and racism; hatred and love; slavery and freedom. We believe that bodily autonomy is integral to liberation. We operate from a human rights framework of reproductive justice, which encompasses the right to have children if, when, and how we choose, as well as the right to terminate a pregnancy at any time and for any reason. Our society functions on stealing the autonomy of women’s bodies and the subsequent exploitation of women’s unpaid labor. To achieve gender equity, we must work towards reproductive justice that is centered around the bodily autonomy of all people, regardless of their gender.
- Repeal the abortion ban: With the Roe v. Wade decision under imminent threat from an illegitimate and reactionary supreme court, Wisconsin should move to strike the 1849 law that makes it a felony for doctors to provide abortions. If the court were to overturn Roe v. Wade, Wisconsin’s current laws would immediately criminalize abortion.
- Abortion coverage for all people on state-employee health insurance and public-funded health insurance such as BadgerCare Plus plans. This must also include the legalization of telemedicine to administer abortive medication.
- End the practice of shackling inmates during childbirth: This practice still occurs in jails across the state and should end immediately.
- Childcare at public functions: Childcare is a significant barrier for people who want to be citizens involved in their communities. In order to make sure all voices can be heard at public meetings, the city and the county should provide free child care during all public meetings.
- Tax exemption for menstrual products: Menstrual supplies are a necessity. However, unlike other necessities, menstrual products are subject to sales tax in Wisconsin. Menstrual products should be added to the list of exemptions for the purposes of sales tax.
- Provide free menstrual products in all public buildings. Dane County has successfully piloted providing free menstrual products in the restrooms of all county-owned buildings. The City of Madison and Dane County should develop this program into an official policy that all public buildings will provide menstrual products free of charge to those who need them.
- Provide free over-the-counter hormonal birth control and long-term reversible birth control so that everyone who needs birth control, including minors, can have it.
People’s Pandemic Response
The pandemic of COVID-19 has exposed the crisis of care in American society that has been growing for decades. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been needlessly lost, and many more thrown into suffering, on account of a systemic response that continues to favor corporate welfare over human health and wellbeing. The pandemic shows no sign of abatement due to the failure of our corporate healthcare system, decimated welfare state, and anti-union legal system. We need to prioritize humans over corporate welfare and redress the appalling racialized disparities of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of these tasks are national, but there is a lot that can be done on a city/county level.
The People’s Vaccine: Vaccinations should be free and accessible to all as soon as they are available. Corporations should not be profiting from a deadly virus. State, county, and local governments should immediately enact free public vaccination programs.
Free them all: We don’t have the death penalty in WI, but people are dying in prisons. Prisons are cruel and do nothing to ensure the safety of communities. The State of Wisconsin and county jails must immediately begin a program of decarceration in order to save incarcerated persons from the pandemic and eventually build towards the abolition of jails and prisons.
Guarantee expansion of testing capacity to match the spread. In dire times, we cannot have four hour waits for public testing – or people waiting weeks for results – we should invest resources to ramp up testing and contact tracing so that it is free and rapidly available for all as needed.
Moral restart: We support the TAA, ASM, UFAS, and others in demanding that the UW system pursue a Moral Restart policy instead of the reckless, unilateral “Smart Restart” that precipitated a tenfold increase in COVID hospitalizations in our community. The UW must enact real shared governance and prioritize the health of its students, employees, and our community.
Essential is not expendable: We must stop asking workers with the least to do the most. We call for guaranteed paid sick and quarantine leave for all workers and require employers to provide hazard pay for any worker who works directly with the public in-person, including all healthcare workers. We also demand expansion of unemployment benefits and recall rights for workers laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.