August 22, 2019

Texas State AFL-CIO Demands Medicare for All

by Ryan Haney

Texas AFL-CIO Constitutional Convention in San Antonio, Texas, July 26, 2019. (TX AFL-CIO)

The battle to win union support for single-payer healthcare didn't start yesterday, or even with Bernie Sanders' 2016 run. It has come a long way, motivated at first by coalitions of progressive unionists like Labor Campaign for Single Payer, and eventually boosted by the leadership of National Nurses United. Due to their work (and Bernie's championing of Medicare For All), hundreds of resolutions in support of Medicare For All have been passed by union locals, central labor councils, state federations, and even the national AFL-CIO in 2017.

The Texas State AFL-CIO joined them just a few weeks ago. While it was a late adopter of Medicare For All, the resolution they passed was stronger than many others, including one passed by the national AFL-CIO in 2017. That resolution seemed to take an “all of the above approach” on healthcare, lumping in Medicare For All as a goal alongside others like “supporting individual [insurance] marketplace stabilization.” The Texas resolution, in its own words, “enthusiastically supports Medicare for All and calls on the Texas federal legislative delegation to work toward assuring appropriate and efficient health care for all... (read more)

August 19, 2019

How a Telephone Workers’ Strike Thirty Years Ago Aided the Fight for Single Payer

by Steve Early & Rand Wilson

Originally appeared in Jacobin on July 13, 2019.

Mass rally and march for telephone workers' strike, Boston, 1989. (Courtesy of authors)

Thirty years ago this summer, 60,000 telephone workers walked off the job in New York and New England — and stayed out for seventeen weeks. Their struggle against NYNEX, a telecom giant, became one of labor’s few big strike victories, during a decade that began with the disastrous defeat of PATCO, the national air traffic controllers union.

Within the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), the model of membership mobilization and workplace militancy developed in 1989 has been used, to varying degrees, in every regional contract campaign they’ve conducted since then.

Telephone workers in the northeast, employed at successor firms of NYNEX (including Verizon) or AT&T, have struck seven times during that period, over a variety of regional and national issues. (For more on their recent disputes, see Dan DiMaggio, at New Labor Forum).

Three decades of joint bargaining and strike activity by more than thirty local affiliates of IBEW and CWA represents a major accomplishment by itself. In the rest of organized labor, workers represented by different unions which deal... (read more)

August 15, 2019

ALL IN - AUGUST: Democratic Debates Reveal Who's On Our Side; M4A Success at DSA National Convention

by DSA M4A

Recently, more than a thousand elected DSA delegates from across the country met in Atlanta for the biennial national convention. There, we deliberated on dozens of organizational and political priorities for the coming two years, including Medicare for All.

In the time since our campaign was adopted at the last convention in 2017,we’ve been working nonstop with all of you to build a mass movement for a truly single-payer Medicare for All program. It has been both challenging and successful.

In line with other priority campaigns, our national committee collaborated on a report that was delivered to the national convention. The report detailed these challenges, successes, and the overall arch of our campaign. Additionally, our report listed several recommendations to guide our strategy and bolster our resources for the next two years. The overwhelming support from delegates for our report gives us the momentum we need to ramp up our efforts and mobilize even more working-class people to fight for Medicare for All.

The convention was also a time for us to bring Medicare for All activists together in more focused settings. We hosted a star-studded panel with longtime healthcare activist Michael Lighty, journalist Natalie Shure, Physicians for a... (read more)

August 11, 2019

Time For Unions To Step Up On Medicare For All

by Mark Dudzic

Originally appeared at Jacobin on June 1, 2018.

Members of National Nurses United (Labor Campaign for Single Payer/Twitter).

There are still those in the labor movement who believe that unionists should oppose single-payer Medicare for All because good, union-negotiated benefits strengthen member loyalty and help to organize new members. This misunderstanding persists because the provision of health care is deeply embedded in the employment relationship. More than 150 million people in the United States receive employer-provided health care insurance. This accident of history is a result of the post–WWII defeat of the Left in the US and the subsequent constraints on militant trade unionism. Unions and their allies had to construct “second-best solutions” in the face of unchallenged corporate power.

While unions throughout the industrialized world led the fight to make health care a right for all, unions in the United States were instrumental in setting the terms for a “private welfare state” that organized the provision of public goods through private employers. Health care became a benefit rather than a right.

Today, bargaining for health care has become unsustainable. Rather than being a positive perk of union membership, health care has become the biggest cause of strikes, lockouts, and concession bargaining as... (read more)

August 1, 2019

Stop Trying to Redefine Medicare for All

by Michael Lighty

Originally appeared in Jacobin on Jan. 8, 2019.

Sen. Kamala Harris speaks at the introduction of the Medicare for All Act of 2017 on Sept. 13, 2017. (Public Citizen/Flickr)

A strange phenomenon has appeared in the US debate over universal health care: a big majority favors a well-known reform—Medicare for All — as the pundits, insurance and pharma lobbyists, and political insiders denied it (since 1992!), then since 2016 opposed it and all of sudden want to redefine it.

The appearance of Medicare for All in the New York Times just before the New Year — as the subject of an in-depth Robert Pear story on December 29, the type of work he consistently devotes to the hottest health care issues in Washington, but rarely has done so about MfA — and in a letters to the editor special on December 30, featuring readers’ remedies for the health care system, “not surprisingly,” said the Times, Medicare for All “topped the list.”

The Pear story presented the first mainstream journalist examination of Medicare for All in relation to Medicare Advantage, the commercial insurance plans sold as Part C of Medicare, which are the latest hugely profitable windfall carve out of traditional Medicare for insurers, who... (read more)

July 22, 2019

The 5 Biggest Lies Joe Biden Is Telling About Medicare for All

by Tim Higginbotham

Originally appeared at Jacobin, on July 18, 2019.

Vice President Joseph Biden, Prime Minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi and President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev in 2011.

Ever since Joe Biden kicked off his 2020 presidential campaign by attending a big-dollar fundraiser with a major health insurance CEO, it was clear that he would define his health care platform in direct opposition to Medicare for All. The release of his underwhelming BidenCare plan brings no surprises on that front.

Rather than highlighting his plan’s policy specifics, Biden is spending the week of its launch attacking Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for All bill. Parroting insurance industry talking points, Biden told a number of lies about the single-payer proposal in a campaign speech and in his BidenCare announcement video: he claimed Medicare for All will throw millions off of their insurance, scrap Obamacare, end Medicare as we know it, cause a hiatus in coverage, and cost more than his own plan.

In response, Sanders’s campaign added a short quiz to their website asking visitors to attribute lies about Medicare for All to either Biden, Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, or United Health CEO David Wichmann. (It’s a tough quiz. I follow these things closely and only scored four out of six.)

With... (read more)

July 20, 2019

Report of the Medicare for All Campaign Committee to the 2019 Convention of the Democratic Socialists of America

by DSA M4A

Submitted to the National Political Committee of DSA by the Medicare for All Campaign Steering Committee on July 14, 2019.

The purpose of this report is (1) to provide the membership of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) with an overview of campaign objectives, organization, and activities; (2) to provide the Convention with a report of how campaign committees and volunteers carried out the tasks committed to them; and (3) to inform the assembled membership of the successes and shortcomings of our campaign in a way that allows them to plan more effectively in the future.

To that end we have included key recommendations throughout the report and in the report’s conclusion.

Click here to read the full report.

July 18, 2019

"KEEP IT OPEN;" Hahnemann University Hospital, Bernie and Medicare for All

by Philly DSA for M4A

Bernie Sanders at the Hahnemann University Hospital rally, July 15, 2019, in Philadelphia, PA. (Flickr/MIchael Stokes)

In 2018, investment banker Joel Freedman bought Philadelphia's Hahnemann University Hospital in 2018, stripped it for parts and ran the hospital into the ground in just 18 months. Now he plans to close the facility, a literal lifeline in that it serves patients that are low-income and, therefore, disproportionately people of color. This would mean 3,000 jobs lost, around 2,000 of which are union jobs. Hahnemann's emergency room sees around 56,000 patients per year, a number no other hospital in the area can absorb, and because Hahnemann's patients are poor, most wouldn't want to absorb the population if they could.

Why did an investment banker buy a safety-net hospital to begin with? These hospitals never make money (standard operating procedure is "doing more with less"). It seems that Freedman was never interested in the health care side of the hospital business but very interested in its real estate. If he succeeds in his plan, he is set to make an enormous profit off of shuttering the hospital, causing a public health emergency and destroying a few thousand good union jobs.

... (read more)

July 15, 2019

What’s So Confusing About Medicare for All?

by Rian Bosse

From the Arizona for Bernie 2020 weekly newsletter.

Senator Bernie Sanders in Arizona in 2016. (Gage Skidmore)

The following is from the Arizona for Bernie 2020 weekly newsletter: sign up for updates like this here!

As the Late Show’s “Just One Question” bit with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez showed, Medicare for All is a pretty simple idea. You know Medicare? Well, expand it to cover everyone.

Which is why it might come as some surprise to find a number of media organizations reporting recently that the public is confused when it comes to Medicare for All. New York magazine claims that recent polls from the Kaiser Family Foundation and Navigator Research show voters say they want Medicare for All, but don’t really know what it is.

As this response from ThinkProgress argues, however, there are a variety of reasons why that might appear to be so. Many Democratic lawmakers and 2020 presidential candidates have sent mixed messages on their support for universal health care and, of course, the for-profit health care industry is spending a lot of money to misinform the public. 

As we learned from an Intercept article last November, confusion about what Medicare for All really is was the industry’s plan all along. Leaked organizing... (read more)

July 8, 2019

ALL IN - JULY: Recapping Another Weekend of Action

by DSA M4A

Since Austin DSA and others pushed Rep. Lloyd Doggett to cosponsor H.R. 1384, Medicare for All Act of 2019, we’ve seen a domino effect in Congress.The latest legislators to sign on to single-payer are Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA 30th District) and Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA 24th District). That brings the number of cosponsors of Rep. Jayapal’s H.R.1384 to 114! To capitalize on this momentum and keep the energy going, we held our third national Weekend of Action on June 15-16, with dozens of DSA chapters participating across the country (check out the photos on Facebook!).

Our movement’s pressure has also led to the first ever hearing on Medicare for All in the House Ways and Means Committee. Unlike the Budget hearing, this committee has the authority to legislate the bill’s primary policy and funding structure. Sanders Institute Fellow Michael Lighty explained the significance of this on camera, and went further in Jacobin: “The Ways and Means Committee must be used as a platform today and a focus for organizing based on our program... We cannot stop our outside agitation.”

Beyond Congress, Democratic primary candidates are also feeling the pressure. Joe Biden has been making absurd arguments against Medicare for... (read more)