March 1, 2018

The Very Bad Politics of 'Putting Health Care Over Politics'

by Tim Faust
Originally published on

On Tuesday, former CMS administrator under Obama Andy Slavitt announced United States of Care, a “non-partisan non-profit” with undisclosed funding that plans on “building and mobilizing a movement to achieve long-lasting solutions that make health care better for everyone.”

“We can’t just wait for politicians in DC to come together solve our health care challenges,” it declared in its inaugural tweet. “Let’s put #health careoverpolitics and build a movement for quality, affordable health care for every American.”

I will admit I was quick to scoff at what I consider toothless mushmouthed nothingspeak. After all, what’s the point of a health care initiative that claims to recognize the massive inequality in American health but is unable to demand even “universal coverage,” a figurative watermelon on a tee-ball-tee among American policy goals, as a desired outcome?

Scrolling through United States of Care’s list of members, it’s easy to feel that kneejerk reaction: that USC is by and large a collaboration of insurance executives, superpowerful health care providers, Republican lawmakers, and figures included mainly to lend it some veneer of credibility, like chronicler of American health Atul Gawande, led by ostensibly well-meaning Democrats who had banked on positions in a Clinton administration and... (read more)

February 28, 2018

Amazon’s Health Care Plans Are Driven By Its Bottom Line, Not Its People

by Benjamin Y. Fong
Originally published on Huffington Post.

DSA member Benjamin Fong wrote for Huffington Post about the corporate powerhouses Amazon, JPMorgan Chase, and Berkshire Hathaway exploring a “disruptive” health care strategy for its own US-based employees, which would provide (ostensibly low-quality) care at a low cost, supposedly free of profit motives. Fong isn’t having it.

And indeed, in spite of the seemingly progressive rhetoric (“improving employee satisfaction,” “free from profit-making incentives,” etc.), every commentator on this proposal saw it quite clearly as a business decision. The New York Times even compared it to “classic disruption,” where a company enters “a market with a product that is lower in value than that of market incumbents, but much lower in cost.” That a proposed nonprofit health care company would be immediately and so easily compared to “classic disrupters, like Southwest Airlines, MP3s or Japanese carmakers,” is a good indication that most people doubt that health is really the goal here.

Read the rest at Huffington Post.

February 27, 2018

Austin DSA Helps Win Paid Sick Days

by Austin DSA
Austin DSA recently participated in a successful local campaign for a local paid sick day ordinance, which we conceived of as part of our work for Medicare for All. On February 15th, 2018, Austin became the first city in the South to mandate that employers provide their employees with paid sick leave, with the ordinance passing 9-2 at City Council. Austin DSA believes this is a huge win, and can be a model for other chapters having difficulty getting their Medicare for All campaigns off the ground. We think this is especially true for other southern chapters, where state legislatures are hostile to any business regulations passed on a municipal level.

When Denton, TX banned fracking, the legislature passed a law making it impossible for Texas towns to regulate fracking and Texas municipalities are prohibited by the state constitution from raising the minimum wage. State legislators are already making noise about preempting the paid sick days ordinance. Austin's City Council believes that if other cities pass similar ordinances, it will be more difficult for the state legislature to take away the rights of Texas workers. Austin DSA is excited about helping other DSA chapters in Texas pass similar ordinances and would love to help other chapters put together their own programs and campaigns.

Why did Austin pair Medicare for All with paid sick days?

Austin has a reputation as a progressive bubble in the middle of a sea of reactionaries, but the reality is a lot more complicated. While it’s true that Texas is a deep red state — and we can say without exaggeration that we’ve got the absolute worst pair of senators in the entire country— the majority of Texans don’t vote, and the state is full of working class people ready for sweeping change. Realistically, though, we recognize that getting Texas’s dismal crop of elected officials to champion... (read more)