Blog

April 8, 2019

All In: April - Bernie’s Bill is Coming, Don’t Be Fooled by Medicare for America

by DSA M4A

We have some very exciting news to share — Sen. Bernie Sanders is unveiling his Medicare for All bill in the Senate this week! This is the companion bill to Rep. Jayapal’s Medicare for All Act of 2019, and we are pleased to say the initial draft meets our five principles. DSA has officially endorsed Sanders for president in 2020, and he’s the only presidential candidate committed to taking on the political establishment, the exploitative pharmaceutical industry and the conniving insurance companies. He remains the only credible single-payer candidate. Read more about how we intend to work with DSA’s Bernie campaign. Bernie’s bill is expected to drop Wednesday, so follow DSA M4A on Facebook or Twitter for the announcement.

In the past month we’ve seen DSA activists across the country putting pressure on their representatives to cosponsor Medicare for All. Their canvassing, direct action, and media work has helped get us to 107 cosponsors for HR 1384! See our chapter spotlight below for more on this.

Meanwhile, the Democratic presidential primary has increasingly revolved around healthcare, with various candidates proposing alternative plans to Medicare for All. One of the most prominent threats recently to Medicare for All has come in the form of Medicare for America, a clumsily-named bill that includes a public healthcare option but preserves employer-sponsored insurance for “those who have it and are satisfied.”

There are a few glaring problems with this bill, namely: it isn’t universal, and so it would continue to enable a profit-based healthcare system with multiple tiers based on who can pay and who can’t. As Medicare for All campaign volunteers Tim Higginbotham and Luke Thibault write for Jacobin, “while [Bernie] Sanders’s proposal eliminates financial barriers to care, Medicare for America leaves them more or less in place.” In sum, Medicare for America allows private insurance to remain intact, pharmaceutical companies to maintain their vice grip on drug prices, and your boss to determine what kind of healthcare you have. It leaves the status quo entirely unchanged.

And those people who supposedly love their private plans? Of course those plans seem like the best option when the only alternative is having no insurance at all. What’s more, they probably won’t get to keep those plans anyway. As People’s Policy Project’s Matt Bruenig writes in response to economist Paul Krugman’s piece in The New York Times, employers are likely to overwhelmingly force people onto any new Medicare plan anyway to cut costs. And perhaps not surprisingly, no one seems to be applying the “forced switching” critique to Medicare for America with the same voracity as they have been with Medicare for All (likely because the critique quickly falls apart for a number of reasons).

It’s clear that people overwhelmingly favor a single, universal plan that covers all of their healthcare needs; not an unnecessarily tiered plan that reinforces the massive healthcare inequalities we’re trying to escape. We can expect many more impostor bills to enter the field, but in the end, the only path to universal healthcare is Medicare for All. Check out and share our Nothing Less policy guide so your chapter is ready to counter these proposals.

Over the coming months Medicare for All will receive historic hearings in the House. Stay tuned for more on this from our campaign as it approaches.

If you have friends, family members or colleagues who are interested in keeping up with the campaign, tell them to sign up here to receive All In straight to their inbox. Thanks for reading!

📋 From the campaign

Goodies from the M4A blog and the broader campaign

  • If you’re looking for more Medicare for America vs. Medicare for All analysis, check out this 16-page PDF that compares the Senate and House Medicare for All bills to other healthcare reform bills currently proposed. This guide is free for anyone to print and distribute at DSA chapter meetings, town hall events, canvasses, or anywhere else it may be helpful. You can also find a blog post version — with a cool shareable social graphic! — here. The pamphlet takes a detailed look at each bill to see how it compares to the campaign’s five principles. Not to spoil anything, but we bet you can already guess which bills meet our principles and which don’t.
  • Democrats can’t get there from here, Northwest regional organizer Paul Alexander writes of legislators who position a public option as a pathway to achieving Medicare for All. While they often use words like “compromise” and “pragmatism” to appeal to voters across the spectrum, we know that these corporate Dems have no real interest in supporting Medicare for All. Instead, Alexander writes, “we ought to recognize these contemporary appeals to pragmatism and moderation for what they are: naked attempts by corporate Democrats to keep donors placated and beat back a resurgent left.”
  • The Nothing Less! speaking tour featuring Sanders Institute fellow Michael Lighty wrapped up with a final date in Bethlehem, PA on March 15, after a packed series of events across the Northeast. We want to thank every chapter that participated in this tour and made it successful! Keep an eye on the tour page for future dates across the country.

🗞 News

Related news articles, essays, articles from outlets beyond the campaign

  • Medicare for All champion Sen. Bernie Sanders wasn’t having it when Democrats rushed to support legislation to strengthen the Affordable Care Act last month. Instead, he held strong, saying, “The incremental reform that I support is phasing in ‘Medicare for All.’” The Democratic leadership released the bill just days after the Trump administration said it wanted the ACA thrown out altogether by the courts. Medicare for All campaign volunteers Tim Higginbotham and Luke Thibault write that instead of championing Medicare for All, Democrats are setting themselves up for failure once again. “If Democrats actually want to lower costs, protect patients, and guarantee health care as a right, then they already have a bill on the floor: the Medicare for All Act of 2019,” Tim and Luke write.
  • It’s clear that abolishing the health insurance industry would be truly revolutionary, and we’re in uncharted waters when it comes to implementing a single-payer system in the U.S. But that certainly doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to make it happen, say Sen. Sanders and others who know it’s truly the only way to provide comprehensive care to all. Skeptics say the plan’s effects on jobs, wages, investors, doctors, and hospitals haven’t been fully analyzed, but many of their concerns are more about investors’ stock portfolios than the patients who need care. Medicare for All would vastly simplify our current system, and as a result, “hospitals and doctors could spend less time and money complying with differing policies, negotiating contracts, and filing forms to get paid.” That means more time giving the quality care patients so desperately need.
  • “Our plan would not have co-pays, premiums or deductibles,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) told Seattle-based KUOW Radio in a interviewabout the Medicare for All bill she introduced in February. Some other key stats Jayapal mentions:
  • 70 percent of Americans support Medicare for All
  • Even with various forms of insurance, families are still paying about $30,000 a year in medical costs in the current system
  • The system currently costs about $35 trillion over 10 years, and it’s expected to balloon up to $50 trillion. Medicare for All is estimated to cost $32 trillion.
  • The average family would actually pay around 14 percent less in taxes under Medicare for All
  • What about those other 129 House Democrats who haven’t signed onto support Rep. Jayapal’s bill? They’re busy taking almost $44 million combined from the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, Grit Post reports. And for a little extra salt in the wound, of those 129 who have yet to sponsor, “48 of them were elected in the ‘blue wave’ of 2018.” This underscores the fact that Medicare for All isn’t a Republicans vs. Democrats issue; it’s a class issue. If your rep is on the non-supporters list, give them a call and tell them why they need to support Medicare for All. We have plenty of resources to help you on our House Pressure Campaign page.

🔦 Chapter spotlight

A look at what locals are doing around the country

  • Northern Indiana DSA participated in a National Nurses United barnstorm event to build hype for Medicare for All, and it was so successful that Rep. Pete Visclosky signed on to co-sponsor H.R. 1384! There were around 65 total attendees from other groups such as the Progressive Democrats of America, the Green Party and local unions. To see if there are any upcoming barnstorms or M4A events in your area, visit the National Nurses United site.
  • Bloomington-Normal DSA is keeping the pressure on Rep. Rodney Davis. Around 20 passionate DSA members disrupted one of his campaign fundraisers by demanding to speak with him about M4A. Then, members showed up to his $100-a-plate dinner event, where staff hurriedly tried to escort them out. After explaining to venue staff that they were fighting for them too, they found the staff much less insistent on kicking them out. Solidarity in action!
  • A New Orleans DSA member published this letter to the editor in The Advocate, Louisiana's largest daily newspaper. Aimed at Rep. Cedric Richmond, who does not yet support the bill, Matthew Wilson writes that it’s high time Rep. Richmond signs on to M4A. “Currently, 75,431 of U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond’s constituents are forced to live without health insurance,” Wilson writes. “Richmond has voiced support for this goal, but he should act on that belief and co-sponsor this legislation.”
  • Nick Conder and Mandy Bell of Louisville DSA participated in a debate with their representative John Yarmuth, who has yet to cosponsor HR 1384. Listen here!

😎  Social media

The best stuff from our feeds

💯Remember that time our Beto meme broke the internet?

🌊 Good luck with that.

🤞 Bernie Sanders is a man of his word.

👋 Hi again.

😭No jokes here: Bernie talking about Medicare for All for more than three straight decades got us teary-eyed (even our parents liked this one).

🛣There’s actually only one pathway, Liz.