A Vision, A Movement, A Video

Music and Universal Health Care

Volume CV, No. 2February, 2005

Lee Ballinger

Across America there is a huge amount of activity revolving around the connection between music and health care.

First and foremost, there are the thousands of benefit concerts that musicians stage for each other every week when a brother or sister is in health crisis.

Some have dubbed this the “musician-for-musician health care movement.”

Also, unions which musicians belong to — like Local 802 — are fighting to maintain and expand health care benefits.

There are musicians’ clinics in several cities — like the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic here in Manhattan — with many more on the drawing board.

Many organizations, such as “blues societies” or the Jazz Foundation with its office here at Local 802 maintain emergency health care assistance funds.

If all this activity could be linked up, it would be a very powerful force for fundamental health care reform.

The problem is that the enormous potential of all this activity goes unrealized because it is scattered, each element unknown and unconnected to all the rest. How can all this activity be united?


First, there must be a vision of a fundamentally different type of health care system, one of universal access with a single standard of care.

This could be summed up as “Everybody In, Nobody Out,” which just happens to be the title of a new video produced by Rock A Mole Productions in Los Angeles.

In a hard-hitting seven minutes “Everybody In, Nobody Out” tells the story of musicians working with the California Nurses Association (CNA) in Los Angeles.

In December 2002, CNA won a union election to represent the 1,700 nurses at the giant Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The hospital appealed to the Bush appointees on the National Labor Relations Board to throw out the democratic decision of the nurses and the NLRB did just that.

CNA is now conducting an aggressive public campaign, with the aid of musicians and other artists, to compel Cedars-Sinai to recognize the union.

But “Everybody In, Nobody Out” isn’t just about the battle at Cedars- Sinai.

With the aid of a soundtrack by Yayojones (the house band at the Arrowhead Pond Arena in Anaheim), the film demonstrates the potential power of bringing together labor, community, and artists to build a movement for universal health care by working step by step to bring each particular health care struggle into that movement.

The promotion and distribution of “Everybody In, Nobody Out” is designed to make connections all along the music/health care battlefront.

Rock A Mole Productions has already made relationships with the following organizations or campaigns:

  • Music for Health Care in Nashville;
  • Single Payer Action Network in Ohio (Rock A Mole has gotten Steve Earle, Bobby Rush, and local artists to help promote this effort);
  • A Florida campaign to put universal health care on the ballot;
  • An ongoing series of benefits for musicians in rural Missouri;
  • Local 802 and other AFM locals around the country.

As a musician, you can get a free copy of “Everybody In, Nobody Out” by e-mailing your name and address to or by writing to Rock A Mole Productions, Box 341305, Los Angeles CA 90034.

Lee Ballinger is West Coast editor of Rock & Rap Confidential ( and can be e-mailed at