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April 25, 2019

Nothing Short of Medicare for All in 2020

by Heather Gautney

Originally appeared at Jacobin on February 5, 2019.

Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Medicare for All is going to be the litmus test of progressivism in 2020. Legislation will soon be introduced in both chambers of Congress by Senator Bernie Sanders and Rep. Pramila Jayapal that would guarantee health care to every person in America. The bills come after a midterm election in which Democrats took back the House with dozens of candidates running on universal single-payer health care, some of them in deep red states.

A majority of House Democrats supported single payer in 2016, as did all of the 2020 hopefuls in the Senate. At the opening of this 116th Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced her support for hearings on Medicare for All following the launch of the House Medicare for All Caucus last summer. (Though, out of the other side of her mouth that day, Pelosi oversaw the passage of “Paygo” legislation, an austerity measure that requires all new spending to be offset with deficit reduction.)

Recent polls tally support for Medicare for All at 70 percent, with 85 percent of Democrats and more than half (52 percent) of all Republicans. Single payer’s growing popularity, in and outside the Beltway, is a function... (read more)

April 19, 2019

The Corporate Campaign to Kill Bernie’s Medicare for All Bill Is Here

by Luke Thibault

Originally appeared at Jacobin, on April 19, 2019.

Senator Bernie Sanders speaks at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, PA. (Smugmug)

The class war over Medicare for All is here. On one side is Bernie Sanders, who recently introduced new and improved Medicare-for-All legislation with the support of a burgeoning grassroots movement and historic small-donor fundraising. On the other side is UnitedHealth, the massive health care company — the fifth-largest US corporation by total revenue of any kind — whose stocks have been plummeting since Sanders revived the bill.

UnitedHealth can no longer hide their efforts to destroy Sanders’s public health system proposal: a whistleblower recently revealed that UnitedHealth’s insurance subsidiary, UnitedHealthcare, is working hard to ensure Democrats focus on reforming the Affordable Care Act (ACA) instead of pushing for Medicare for All, which will eliminate their entire industry. When asked about their stance on Medicare for All, the company’s chief executive Steve Nelson said, “We are advocating heavily and very involved in the conversation.”

They’re also warning their investors of the bill’s potential to “destabilize the nation’s health system.” Nelson explained that the company is “trying to be thoughtful about how we enter in the conversation, because there’s a risk of seeming like it’s... (read more)

April 19, 2019

Rural America Needs Medicare for All, and Fast

by Barb Kalbach

Originally appeared at Common Dreams on March 25, 2019.

A sign for a closed rural hospital in North Carolina. (North Carolina Health News)

We’ve got a rural health care emergency on the horizon.

Rural hospitals are closing or teetering on the brink of closure at an alarming rate. More than a hundred have closed since 2005 and hundreds more are on life support. Long-term care facilities are vanishing across rural America or being bought up by large corporations who care about profit, not the care of our loved ones.

Most rural hospitals have even stopped delivering babies — you’ll need to go to the city for that, so plan ahead.

I know firsthand. I’m a registered nurse and lifelong Iowan from the country. I’ve kept a close eye on where we’ve been with health care, and where it appears we’re headed. It’s not looking too good for my community and others if we stay on our current failed path.

Medicaid expansion was supposed to help here in Iowa. It sure didn’t — because we handed the program over to private, for-profit “managed care organizations.” What we got in return was less care — and more services denied, facilities shuttered, and lives lost to corporate greed.

Hospitals that were... (read more)

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... (read more)

April 3, 2019

No Compromising Our Health

by Paul Alexander

President Barack Obama's signature on the Affordable Care Act, March 23, 2010. Wikimedia.org.

With the 2020 election season beginning to heat up, corporate money-fueled Democrats, along with think tanks, like the Center for American Progress, have begun their full-court press against Medicare for All.

We’ve seen a myriad of bad faith criticisms of Medicare for All from these camps over the last several months: it’s too expensive, too divisive, or it’s a nebulous, poorly defined concept. These are ridiculous criticisms that have been well-dispensed with elsewhere.

It’s equally important, however, to examine the positive case being made for the M4A alternatives rolled out by lawmakers like Representative Nancy Pelosi and Senator Brian Schatz. It’s critical for socialists to evaluate these cases and respond to them, so as not to find themselves constantly on the defensive. Doing so allows us to examine the faulty logic underlying these proposals, and rearticulate our positive vision for universal, comprehensive, and free healthcare for everyone in the country.

One thing that will immediately jump out to any attentive reader is that in talking point after talking point, the same few themes crop up.

The following quotes from my own... (read more)

March 30, 2019

Chapter Spotlight: Northern Indiana DSA Barnstorms With NNU Towards Success!

by Northern Indiana M4A

On February 9th, 2019, NWI Medicare for All held a barnstorm event sponsored nationally by National Nurses United to win Medicare for All. We had over 65 attendees, many of whom were local activists including union members, Progressive Democrats of America members, DSA members and Green Party members. We are grateful that the United Steel Workers Local 6787 in Chesterton lent use their hall for the event. The goal of the event was to organize folks to participate in future phone banks and canvassing events, as well as to move our local member of Congress, Representative Pete Visclosky, to co-sponsor H.R. 1384.

The attendees signed our petition, wrote postcards to Pete and jotted down his phone number when we urged them to call his office. We called his office in front of the crowd, put the phone on speaker and asked the group to shout "Medicare for All" on the voicemail. It was a really high-energy and fun event; we had food, give-aways and people shared powerful stories as to why they fight for M4A.


A few days later, the NNU contacted us to let us know that Pete signed on as a co-sponsor to the Medicare for All Act.

... (read more)

March 28, 2019

Medicare for America Will Force People Off Their Insurance

by Matt Bruenig

Originally appeared at Peoples Policy Project on March 21, 2019.

The floor is Medicare for All.

Paul Krugman has a piece in the New York Times where he tries to compare Medicare for All to Medicare for America. The piece provides good insight into the developing centrist consensus on these matters, including its heavy reliance on straightforward falsehoods.

The sole argument Krugman uses to favor Medicare for America over Medicare for All is that the former lets people keep their current insurance if they want. This is objectively wrong.

Here’s Krugman:

The big difference [between Medicare for America and] a Sanders-type plan is that people would be allowed to keep private coverage if they chose
[…]
To me, then, Medicare for America — which lets people keep employment-based insurance — looks like a much better bet for actually getting universal coverage than Medicare for All.

Medicare for America has a lot of moving parts, but the relevant part for our discussion here is the one that creates a new public health plan and then lets employers forcibly switch all their employees to that plan. This is an option that the vast majority of employers are expected to exercise. Under prior analyses of this type of plan (previously called “Americare”), almost... (read more)

March 26, 2019

Don't Let Beto O'Rourke Kill Medicare for All

by Tim Higginbotham and Luke Thibault

Originally appeared at Jacobin, on March 22, 2019.

Beto O'Rourke speaks at a Chamber of Commerce candidate forum in El Paso, TX, in January, 2012. Flickr/Beto for Congress.

What do the Democratic candidates for president believe about Medicare for All? With the exception of Bernie Sanders, it’s hard to say. Kamala Harris has backpedaled. Cory Booker contradicts himself. Elizabeth Warren has a wavering record and avoids the subject as much as possible. Meanwhile they all support competing legislation on the side.

Beto O’Rourke’s reversal is the most flagrant yet. In a mere two years the former Texas congressman has gone from vocally championing Medicare for All to bizarrely calling the single-payer policy “too ideological.” O’Rourke’s stance on health care policy has been so unclear that a Vox reporter felt the need to conduct an investigation into it.

After a career of noodling around on the issue, he seems to be zeroing in on his favored approach now that he’s running for president. O’Rourke is touting a proposal called Medicare for America, a public option bill modeled off of previous work by neoliberal think tank Center for American Progress.

O’Rourke claims that this bill presents a pathway to Medicare for All. In fact, it... (read more)

March 18, 2019

Bloomington-Normal DSA Puts the Pressure on Rep. Rodney Davis

by BloNo DSA M4A

In the week that preceded Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-7, D) introducing the Medicare for All Act of 2019 (with over 100 cosponsors), the members of Bloomington-Normal’s Medicare for All working group drafted and sent a letter requesting a meeting with Representative Rodney Davis (IL-13, R).

The twin cities of Bloomington and Normal are both split between districts 13 and 18, represented by Rodney Davis and Darin LaHood. Neither candidate has made any indication that they would support a Medicare for All bill, but we felt it was prudent to request a meeting with both of our representatives through the candidates’ preferred contact methods. We sent both an email and a letter and requested a reply by March 4th. By our proposed deadline, we received no acknowledgement of our requests from either candidate.

The BloNo DSA Medicare for All working group has been gaining support in our community through regular canvasses and participation in community events. Since October, we have been able to gather pledges to support Medicare for All from over 100 Bloomington-Normal residents. We know that the residents of Bloomington-Normal support a single-payer healthcare system, but we don’t know if our two House members will fairly represent their... (read more)

March 14, 2019

ALL IN: March; All About the New M4A Bill!

by DSA M4A

We have much to celebrate, because we just achieved an amazing milestone together: Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) introduced the Medicare for All Act of 2019 with over 100 cosponsors on Feb. 26! You can watch a recording of the bill’s release outside the Capitol building here.

The importance of this landmark legislation cannot be overstated, and we’re going to continue working alongside our coalition partners to make Medicare for All a litmus test for all candidates in 2020.

Big pharma, insurance industry lobbyists and career politicians will certainly redouble their efforts to spread misinformation and kill M4A, so we can’t let up. We’ve got a real, fighting chance to achieve Medicare for All!

Alongside Senator Sanders’ Senate bill, it is the only legislation to meet DSA’s five principles for a truly democratic socialist single-payer system. Those five principles are:

  1. A single health program in which everyone will have equal access to all medical services and treatments
  2. Comprehensive coverage where all services requiring a medical professional will be fully covered
  3. Free at the point of service, meaning no more co-pays, deductibles or fees for medical devices and prescriptions
  4. Universal coverage for every US residents, even non-citizens
  5. Job training and transition help... (read more)