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 of any public plan—and would leave an estimated 3 percent of Americans, or 9.8 million people, completely uninsured. What’s more, his legislative track record shows he’s been willing to use cuts to Social Security as a bargaining chip for more than 40 years.
If the Nevada caucuses are any indication, healthcare will continue to be the top issue for voters across the country. As Matt Karp points out, voters in the 12 Super Tuesday states were asked if they support "a government plan for all instead of private insurance," and all 12 answered with a resounding “yes.”
When it comes to electing the best candidate on healthcare, Sanders is the clear—and only—choice.
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The Medicare for All campaign is proud to endorse National Nurses United's Patients Over Profits Pledge! By taking the pledge, politicians at all legislative levels must reject campaign contributions over $200 from executives, lobbyists, and PACs affiliated with corporate front group, Partnership for America’s Health Care Future. We stand in solidarity with NNU and other coalition organizations fighting for a universal, comprehensive and free-at-the-point-of-use Medicare for All system. Sign up here to get involved in their campaign.
Fifty-seven percent of Americans say they’ve received a medical bill they weren’t expecting, which is why we agree with Meagan Day’s list of precautions in Jacobin on how to avoid unexpected medical bills: just enact Medicare for All.
Legislation aimed at fixing this complex billing network should not lead people into believing the solution involves more labyrinthine, technocratic rules and regulations. In fact, it only serves to obscure how simple the fix could be. “A single federal tax-funded health insurance program would end not just surprise billing but all individual billing. No person would ever have to worry about whether they can personally afford the health care they need,” Day writes. “Gone would be the imploring GoFundMe’s, the medical debt-induced bankruptcies, and the endemic fear of ambulances.”
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Joe Biden is a big part of the reason drugs and vaccines are so expensive. As Ryan Grim and Aída Chávez point out in The Intercept, Bernie Sanders authored and passed an amendment in 2000 to reinstate a rule that ensured drugs and vaccines developed using public dollars would be sold to the public at a reasonable price. Known as the “reasonable pricing” rule in the House, Paul Wellstone of Minnesota pushed similar legislation in the Senate. But Joe Biden, then a Senator in Delaware, voted to table Wellstone’s amendment. The amendment was ultimately defeated and Sanders’ language in the House bill was stripped. As a result, the federal government continues to fund research that leads to private gain.
In the case of pandemics—like we’re seeing now with the novel coronavirus—this can result in a huge toll on human life. With 152 infections and 11 deaths in the US, lawmakers continue to struggle over how to make any potential vaccine “affordable.” We have an idea: enact Medicare for All.
Not everyone can see a doctor or stay home when they’re sick, and those hit hardest likely work in customer-facing industries that offer few, if any, paid sick time or health insurance benefits. More than 27 million people are uninsured, making them less likely to seek preventative care or see a doctor when they are actually sick. Some of these people are Portia Green, a 33-year-old restaurant worker in New York. She has no sick leave, no health insurance, and no childcare options if schools close or she’s too ill to take care of her child. In the restaurant industry, she says, the expectation is that you show up unless you’re “green.” In the face of a global pandemic, Medicare for All would help stop the spread of dangerous viruses and give people the time they need to rest and recover.
“Black babies are more than twice as likely to die in infancy than babies born to white mothers, and Black women are three or four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than their white peers,” Sen. Bernie Sanders writes in an exclusive op-ed in Essence magazine. Sanders makes the case that Medicare for All is a feminist and racial issue that will materially improve the lives of those often hit hardest by the private healthcare industry. “In my view, any plan that targets Black maternal health that doesn’t include unequivocal support for a universal health care system that is free at the point of delivery is not good enough.”
When someone does try to do the right thing and get treatment for a possible viral infection, who pays? If you’re a U.S. citizen, you do. Frank Wucinski and his daughter accepted the U.S. government’s offer to evacuate from Wuhan, China in February as the new coronavirus spread. After being monitored for signs of the virus and quarantine for two weeks, he was hit with almost $4,000 in charges from hospital doctors, radiologists and an ambulance company. “My question is why are we being charged for these stays, if they were mandatory and we had no choice in the matter?” Mr. Wucinski said. Some charges have since been dropped, but others are still outstanding.
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