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)

June 21, 2019

Nothing Less Than Improved Medicare for All

by Michael Lighty

Originally appeared in Common Dreams on April 15, 2019.

A supporter at the single-payer rally held in Washington, D.C. on July 30, 2009. Over 1,000 people gathered in Upper Senate Park to show Congress and President Barack Obama the support for a single-payer health care system. (Joe Newman/Flickr)

Isn’t this a “radical transformation” of the US healthcare system?

No. Medicare for All expands the role of public financing in healthcare- 60% of healthcare is already paid for by our taxes. It does so through an existing “single-payer” called the Medicare Trust Fund that already pays virtually every provider in the US but just for seniors. Under Medicare for All it will cover everybody and reimburse providers who remain mostly private. The new financing replaces all premiums, co-pays and deductibles –Medicare for All is the only reform program to do so.

Besides the government, the primary payers in the current system are the commercial insurance companies, funded by employer contributions, taxes, and individuals (those premiums, co-pays, and deductibles). These insurance companies are “middle men.” For prescription drugs, the insurance companies often pay Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) who set the limits on coverage and pay pharmacies. The Medicare program in part currently uses insurance companies and PBMs. The new... (read more)

June 15, 2019

It's the Healthcare, Stupid

by Dave Anderson

Originally appeared in the Boulder Weekly on June 13, 2019.

(M.O. Stevens/Wikimedia Commons)

The United States currently has the highest per-capita health care expenditures in the world, yet we rank last among 11 developed countries for health outcomes, equity and quality, according to a recent study by the Commonwealth Fund. They also found that more Americans die from poor quality care than do people in any of the other countries.

One in four Americans said they didn’t go to the doctor about a health issue over the last year because they were worried that the solution would cost too much, according to a new survey released in March by Gallup and West Health, a health care nonprofit.

Some 45 percent of Americans worry that a major health issue could send them into bankruptcy, and 19 percent have delayed purchasing medicine due to its cost.

The Republicans are determined to make things much worse. U.S. Attorney General William Barr and the Justice Department, along with several state GOP attorneys general, are pushing a lawsuit to abolish the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) altogether. That would mean that people could again be blocked from getting insurance due to pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure... (read more)

June 11, 2019

What Medicare for All Means for Abortion Rights

by LIllian Cicerchia

Originally appeared at Jacobin on January 18, 2019.

Mary Whitehouse demonstration and rally, Sydney, New South Wales, October 1978 (Flickr).

In 2017, Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced the Medicare for All Act in the United States Senate. Medicare for All is what many refer to as single-payer, where citizens pay for publicly funded health insurance through taxes rather than paying for private insurance.

In the midst of Democratic Party backtracking on abortion rights, the bill came as a breath of fresh air to the reproductive justice movement.

Sanders’s Medicare for All bill mandates “comprehensive reproductive care,” including abortion. Mandated equal access to abortion care in federal legislation would mean nullifying the Hyde Amendment, which is the legislation that gets passed yearly preventing Medicaid programs from providing federal funds for abortions except in dire circumstances. There would then be no basis for Hyde’s annual passage, since preventing federally mandated abortion access is the reason Hyde exists.

Defeating Hyde means abandoning the defensive, legalistic way of interpreting reproductive justice solely through the lens of privacy, which mainstream nonprofits and reproductive rights advocates have clung to under Roe v WadeRoe is the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on the basis of the Fourteenth Amendment’s due... (read more)

June 4, 2019

All In - June: The Weekend of Action is Coming

by DSA M4A

In just a few short months, Medicare for All has received unprecedented attention in the legislature. After the introduction of Medicare for All bills in both the House and Senate, there was a powerful first-ever hearing in April featuring lawyer and healthcare activist Ady Barkan. Then, the Congressional Budget Office released a thorough report in May on the impacts of establishing a universal healthcare system. These recent gains are a result of our coalition’s constant grassroots work, and we’re creating a litmus test that shows whether our representatives are on the side of healthcare profiteers or the side of the working class.

And now, we’re closer than ever to a historic floor vote on Medicare for All and we need your help: join us for a Weekend of Action on June 15-16 to seize this unique opportunity.

These weekends are a large scale, coordinated effort between DSA chapters across the country with the goal of reaching out to friends, neighbors and community members to offer a vision of a healthcare system safeguarded from the profit motive of private insurers. You might remember our Weekends of Action last year in April and August, when chapters held town hall events, canvassed their... (read more)

May 28, 2019

Rep. Lloyd Doggett Co-Sponsors Medicare for All

by DSA M4A

Rep. Lloyd Doggett, June 2017. (Public Citizen/Flickr)

Lloyd Doggett, the chair of the Health Subcommittee of the Ways and Means Committee, and member of the Budget Committee, has co-sponsored H.R. 1384, the Medicare for All Act of 2019. This is the first time Doggett has sponsored single-payer legislation, and it marks a major turning point in our campaign.

Alongside coalition partners like NNU and The Texas Organizing Project, our own Austin DSA played a major role in pressuring Doggett to stand on the side of workers and not insurers. For well over a year, Austin DSA has run a targeted campaign, incorporating a number of tactics, to apply pressure and force Doggett to sign on to Medicare For All, with San Antonio DSA serving as a crucial partner in the fight.

Hundreds of DSA members from Austin to San Antonio participated in this campaign in some way: