CVS: Stop blocking Medicare for All


From Honolulu to Houston, people have been taking on the fourth biggest corporation in the country, demanding that they stop blocking Medicare for All.

Hundreds of nurses and supporters have targeted nearly 400 CVS stores from coast to coast. Our message is clear: CVS must stop putting profits over patients. That means they must end their efforts to stop Medicare for All.

Our message is simple, but our protest has been creative! We have been taping our demands to the front of CVS stores. Our demands are in the style of the notoriously long CVS receipts. But instead of overpriced medications and candies, our ‘receipts’ are long because they contain the names of the tens of thousands of people supporting our campaign.

On one Saturday in September alone, activists visited over 200 stores in 27 states, showing the size of our movement and the strength of our conviction that CVS Health is part of the problem and not part of the solution when it comes to health care.

People have stepped up all across the country. Every one of these red dots shows a location where someone took action at a CVS!

Nurses and activists have been working together to turn up the heat. Here’s Shirley in Sacramento, California, registered nurse and retired California Nurses Association Board member!

And here’s Margaret taking action against CVS in Virginia:

These actions are part of a growing campaign against CVS. When we heard about their efforts to stop Medicare for All, we launched a massive social media campaign to expose them, collected over 30,000 petition signatures, drove hundreds of calls to their corporate headquarters during their annual shareholder meeting, and followed these up with our receipt actions. We also started a program of political education, hosting a panel discussion featuring anti-monopoly experts, journalists, and activists where we mapped out a plan to fight back against CVS Health’s corporate greed. And this is just the beginning.

What has CVS been up to?

In April 2021, it was uncovered by The Intercept that CVS Health had become the largest single donor to the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future.

In the middle of a pandemic that has killed millions worldwide, CVS Health had quietly made a $5 million donation to the number one dark-money lobbying group fighting against Medicare for All.

The Partnership is a corporate front group set up to block any attempts at reforming our broken health care system. It was formed back in 2018, in direct response to our campaign for Medicare for All. It represents the most consolidated and well organized corporate opposition of our movement to date.

Together, they represent the biggest ‘health care’ corporations in the country. These are companies that would be seriously weakened, if not eliminated, by Medicare for All — because Medicare for All puts people above profits. But the Partnership is not just committed to stopping Medicare for All. They are opposed to any health care reform that would take a single dollar away from their bottom lines. The truth is that they benefit from it being broken, and they have their own dark vision for the future of health care in the US.

The corporate vision for our health care future

You might wonder why your local pharmacy is bankrolling efforts to turn politicians and the public against guaranteed health care for everyone. We know that Medicare for All would save the public $300 billion a year on prescription drugs alone, and with CVS taking in 25% of prescription drug revenue nationwide, Medicare for All would hit CVS’ bottom line by helping people get the care they need.

But there’s more to it. Because CVS sees themselves as more than a pharmacy. After purchasing the health insurance corporation Aetna in 2018, CVS became the largest ‘health care’ corporation in the world. And they have plans to get bigger. The Wall Street Journal recently characterized CVS as trying to become the ‘Amazon of health care.’ What does that mean?

Imagine you show up acutely ill in the emergency room and the medical staff agree you need to be hospitalized immediately — but instead of admitting you, they tell you to pop into your nearest CVS. Or you get sent home with an iPad, a monitor, and the promise of “virtual care.” No hands-on care, no 24/7 registered nurses and other skilled providers to watch for those slight tell-tale changes in your condition, no one to hold your hand or calm your fears.

This is the dark vision for our health care future shared by CVS — with their ‘Minute Clinics’ and ‘Health Hubs’ — and other corporate ‘health care’ outfits.

Just like with Kaiser’s plans to leave patients ‘Home All Alone’, this is all about squeezing more money out of our broken health care system, closing hospitals, and denying patients care from professional health care workers.

This is the opposite of the nurses’ vision for health care: top quality care for everyone when they need it.

Winning Medicare-for-All means challenging ‘health care’ corporations head on

Our campaign against CVS is part of our bigger plan to win Medicare for All. Nurses have been leading the fight for Medicare for All for decades because we know it’s the only way to build a future where everyone has the right to health care, and nurses are free to care for our patients without constraints imposed by profit-driven corporations.

Nurses witness the devastation and harm caused to patients by profit-driven ‘health care’ corporations every day. Those same corporations are using their billions in profits to unduly influence politicians and candidates running for office in order to prevent any significant health care reforms from progressing. We want to heal the root cause of the disease, and that means taking the fight to the politicians that oppose us and the corporations that bankroll them.

In the last three years, our grassroots campaign for Medicare for All has grown by leaps and bounds, leading to unprecedented support in Congress. But we know that if we want to win, we need to directly take on the health care corporations that are trying to stop us.

What’s next?

CVS has been put on notice. We do not trust them with our health care. We will not allow them to get in the way of our movement for true health care justice. ​​Thanks to months of pressure and activism, CVS Health was forced to respond to us. They put out a weak statement claiming to not ‘currently’ fund the Partnership. But that’s not enough for us, so we will continue to ramp up the pressure. Stay tuned for our next actions, and for some exciting plans in the new year. If you are not already on our CVS campaign email list, make sure to join here.

We know that CVS is not the only corporation profiting from people’s suffering and working to deny health care to the country. That’s why CVS is not our only priority. We will keep working to expose the actions of the Partnership and to drive a wedge between these corporate lobbyists and the politicians they seek to influence. We will challenge the Partnership at every turn, and we will challenge the corporations who are using it to further their efforts to squeeze more dollars out of our broken health care system and to buy our democracy.

Challenging our corporate opponents is one part of the strategy to win Medicare for All. Another crucial piece is building pressure on members of Congress to stand with us and to co-sponsor the bill. Our grassroots movement has had great success at doing this, but we cannot and will not let up the pressure. If this is your first time hearing about this part of our campaign, you can take action with us here.

When nurses started campaigning for guaranteed health care for all, we knew that it would not be an easy task. Every major victory for the people — from workers’ rights to voting rights to Civil Rights — has taken a huge amount of effort and perseverance from a movement of people committed to the cause. But they knew that the cause was just, and that the change was necessary. We know that companies motivated by profit will never be a match for nurses motivated by care. We know that corporations have money, but that we have people. And we believe that we will win.



Nurses' Campaign for Medicare for All

National Nurses United is the largest union of nurses in the US. NNU is leading the fight for Medicare for All on behalf of our patients and our communities.