March 21, 2020

Keep Calm and Fight for Medicare for All

by Tobias Kirchwey, Robert Fain, Pranav J. Sharma, Elias Kleinbock

Originally appeared in Jacobin on March 18, 2020.

Photo by Duncan C. (via Flickr)

Every gap in health coverage threatens to accelerate COVID-19’s spread. If the estimated 87 million Americans who are uninsured or underinsured delay testing or treatment due to cost, we will struggle to “flatten the curve” of the pandemic no matter how well we socially distance. Our health system may well collapse under the weight of COVID-19 cases, as did the health systems in Northern Italy and China’s Hubei Province. If this happens, we will run out of ventilators for those who need them, while our capacity for routine lifesaving interventions, like stents for people who have heart attacks and emergency surgeries for trauma victims, will be curtailed.

Our inadequate preparation for COVID-19 extends beyond the lack of guaranteed health care for all. Years of underfunding the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and its laboratories impedes our ability to track, confirm, and intercept cases. Furthermore, chronic disinvestment from local and state departments of health prevents us from addressing emerging health crises and communicating vital information to communities. This lack of investment in public health infrastructure is symptomatic of a system oriented toward covering individuals rather than communities. Our vulnerabilities speak to our health... (read more)

March 10, 2020

[All In: March] Super Tuesday results show Bernie won with Medicare for All

by DSA M4A

Hello and thank you for reading the March issue of All In, the DSA Medicare for All campaign newsletter!   

Super Tuesday showed us one important thing: Bernie Sanders can run, and win, on Medicare for All. Sanders won California, the contest’s largest prize, by sweeping with almost 34% of the vote (out of about 4 million votes). The state is notorious for taking weeks to reveal the final delegate tally, but the fact that Sanders solidly won the popular vote in the world’s fifth-largest economy shows that his platform, and Medicare for All in particular, resonates with voters. And with six states headed to the ballot box today, we know Sanders can win again with Medicare for All.

Now that the contest for the democratic nominee is down to him and Biden, Medicare for All will likely be one of Bernie’s strongest talking points, too. Sanders himself has floated the idea of an hour-long debate with Biden on healthcare while doubling-down on the crucial need for Medicare for All

It’s an area where Biden is vulnerable. His healthcare plan is especially weak because it creates a “public option”—which preserves the role of private insurers to the detriment... (read more)

February 29, 2020

Surprise! We Need Medicare for All

by Meagan Day

Originally appeared in Jacobin on June 6, 2019.

Photo by Molly Adams (via Flickr)

Aetna’s website has a list of precautions you can take to avoid getting surprise medical bills. It reads:

  1. Research your preventive care coverage and billing codes before your visit.
  2. Ask your doctor to use in-network labs for bloodwork, MRIs and other tests.
  3. Shop around for the best price on medical tests and procedures.
  4. Beware of “facility fees.”
  5. Prep for emergencies by finding out about ambulance providers in your area.
  6. Know your rights around “balance billing.”

This is absurd. We shouldn’t have to do any of this. Here’s a better to-do list:

  1. Dismantle private insurance companies like Aetna.
  2. Implement Medicare for All instead.

Fifty-seven percent of Americans say they’ve received a medical bill they weren’t expecting. Sometimes their crime was being unconscious in an ambulance taking them to the nearest (out-of-network) hospital. Other times their mistake was failing to stop their (in-network) provider from commissioning an $18,000 urine test from an (out-of-network) lab. Surprise medical bills like these are a major contributing factor to medical debt, which is the leading cause of bankruptcy in the US.

Pretty much everyone agrees that this situation is intolerable. Democrats, Republicans, and even Donald Trump are promising to do... (read more)

February 11, 2020

Mayor Pete’s Health Care Plan Is a Joke

by Matt Bruenig

Originally appeared in Jacobin on Feb. 10, 2020.

Photo by Gage Skidmore (via Flickr)

The health care debate has popped back in the news again, as Pete Buttigieg attempts to gain ground in the primary by attacking Medicare for All. Buttigieg’s health plan has mostly avoided scrutiny in the debate so far, which is a shame because it is so bad that it borders on comical.

Impossible Enrollments

In the first part of Buttigieg’s plan, he says he is going to automatically enroll the millions of uninsured people with incomes low enough to already be eligible for free insurance:

Over half of people with no insurance are eligible for either free insurance or an affordable insurance option. Anyone eligible for free coverage in Medicaid or the public option will be automatically enrolled, and those eligible for subsidized coverage will have a simple enrollment option.

Upon reading this, you should wonder to yourself: how on earth is the bureaucracy going to be able to automatically determine, in real time, who the low-income people are that are eligible for free insurance?

Remember, the people he is talking about here are not people who come into the welfare office and fill out forms recording their income information. These are the... (read more)

February 3, 2020

[All In: February] Bernie leads with Iowans while M4A leads with doctors

by DSA M4A

Hello and thank you for reading our first issue of 2020! 

Sen. Bernie Sanders leads Joe Biden by 9 points in Iowa and 15 points in New Hampshire. In fact, he’s favored over Trump in every major poll conducted in the last month! But with Super Tuesday on the horizon, it’s more important than ever to continue building support behind Sen. Sanders because he’s the only candidate committed to enacting Medicare for All from day 1.

It’s also key to remember that Sanders is the only candidate whose healthcare plan adheres to our campaign’s 5 principles and truly earns the right to be called Medicare for All. Other candidates’ plans just don’t stack up, and this recent campaign video explains why:

Watch the full video here!

We’re still encouraging individuals and chapters to put pressure on their representatives to support Medicare for All, and now we’re also asking that people canvass, make calls and/or send texts for the Sanders campaign. Keep the momentum up!

As the Medicare for All movement grows, it’s also picking up support from crucial players in the healthcare system itself: doctors. The American College of Physicians — the country’s largest medical specialty organization representing more than... (read more)

January 27, 2020

Building momentum for Bernie with the largest Week of Action yet

by DSA M4A

Jabari Brisport, left, running for New York State Senate District 25, and Phara Souffrant Forrest, right, running for New York City's 57th Assembly District, attended a Medicare for All/Bernie town hall hosted by New York City DSA. (Photo via New York City DSA). 

In partnership with the DSA for Bernie campaign, we wrapped up our largest Week of Action yet in January!

From Jan. 13-19, more than 60 DSA chapters across the country held town halls, canvasses, watch parties and phone/text banking parties in support of Sen. Bernie Sanders and Medicare for All. In fact, many chapters even held more than one event! This was the first time the DSA for Medicare for All campaign joined forces with the DSA for Bernie campaign, and it was inspiring and motivating to see the power and strength of our movement.

With the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries in sight, we need to keep the pressure on. You can still get involved by volunteering directly with the Sanders campaign, or see our organizing guide for information and resources on how to build a local Medicare for All coalition in your area.

A huge thank you to every chapter... (read more)

January 25, 2020

The Labor Movement Must Fight for Medicare for All — Not Employer-Based Plans

by Mark Dudzic

Originally appeared in New Politics on Jan. 17, 2020.

Photo by Molly Adam (via Flickr)

At the June 2019 House Ways and Means Committee Hearing on Medicare for All, Texas Republican Kevin Murphy lamented, “That great health care plan that your union negotiated for you? It’s gone. Banned under Medicare for All.”

A right-wing congressman with a 7 percent lifetime voting score from the AFL-CIO crying crocodile tears for great union health care plans can be easily dismissed as just another absurdity of the increasingly dysfunctional American political system. But when Joe “the workingman’s friend” Biden repeats the charge almost word for word and when AFL-CIO president Rich Trumka insists — on Fox News no less! — that “if there isn’t some way to have our plans integrated into the system, then we would not support [Medicare for All],” something is certainly happening out there. Talking points, after all, don’t just come out of thin air. They are carefully crafted and disseminated by a coterie of lobbyists and publicists often working on behalf of shadowy corporate and political interests.

Trumka was shortly joined by American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president Randi Weingarten, who just six months earlier had delivered a full-throated endorsement of the Medicare for All Act at... (read more)

January 6, 2020

When Senator Elizabeth Warren Went to Bat for a Corporate Health-Care Interest

by Zaid Jilani

Originally appeared in Jacobin on Jan. 2, 2020.

Photo by Lenore Edman (via Flickr)

On December 20, 2019, the medical device industry — the folks who make everything from surgical gloves to prosthetic legs — breathed a sigh of relief. It was on that day that President Trump signed into law a spending package that, among other things, permanently repealed the medical device tax included in the original Affordable Care Act legislation. (It had been suspended since 2016, but was set to go back into effect.)

The 2.3 percent excise tax had become a source of ire for the industry, which had complained about its profits being sucked away to pay for the government’s health care overhaul.

“This is a great day for American patients, American jobs and American innovation: The medical device tax is officially history. With the end of this burdensome tax, the US medtech industry can do what it does better than anyone else in the world: develop life-changing innovations that save and improve patients’ lives, and create high-paying, high-tech jobs to keep the American economy booming,” Scott Whitaker, president and CEO of the Advanced medical Technology Association, said. “We thank President Trump and his administration for their strong support of medical innovation and... (read more)

December 10, 2019

ALL IN - DECEMBER: Union Support for Bernie Shows Why He's the Only M4A Candidate

by DSA M4A

As we head into 2020, we have everything to gain and the polls to back it up: support for Sen. Sanders is growing in key states like New Hampshire, and voters consistently say he’s the candidate they trust most to enact Medicare for All in office. This is an unprecedented moment in history where the United States could see a Sanders presidency, and Medicare for All is closer to reality than ever before. Working alongside dozens of other coalition organizations, thousands of socialists in DSA chapters across the country have spent countless hours this year organizing events, door-knocking, phone banking and talking to their friends and neighbors about Medicare for All. We know we’ll have to fight much harder in 2020, but it’s clear our hard work is paying off. Please remember to forward this issue to everyone you know interested in Medicare for All and in Bernie's political revolution and get them to subscribe so we can hit the ground running in January.

Big pay-offs have come lately in the form of major union support for Sanders and his Medicare for All plan. National Nurses United endorsed Bernie for president in November, counting his “trailblazing leadership” on “Medicare for... (read more)

December 5, 2019

James Hoffa Is Wrong About Medicare for All

by Ryan Haney

Originally appeared in Jacobin on Oct. 21, 2019.

James Hoffa (Wikimedia)

Last week, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters announced the beginning of a new endorsement process for the 2020 presidential election. In contrast to their last-minute 2016 endorsement of Hillary Clinton, this process began with an issue survey sent out to every one of its 1.4 million members — over 20,000 responded — with more than a year to go before the general election.

Out of roughly ten issues that members were asked to rank, the top three were chosen to constitute a “Teamster Pledge”: pension and retirement security, fair trade deals, and strengthening the right to organize. Though the data are not publicly available, it is likely these are the three issues that unite both Republican and Democrat members of a typically more conservative union.

While health care was not among these top issues shaping the three-point pledge, Teamsters president James P. Hoffa decided to address it anyway — not by declaring the right of all people to quality health care, but by flatly dismissing Medicare For All:

The Teamsters have health care for all. And I just think we have to educate [the candidates] on that issue. I can’t believe they would
... (read more)