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:

May 21, 2019

Chapter Spotlight: Portland DSA Pressures Rep. Kurt Schrader

by Portland DSA M4A

Rep. Kurt Schrader (Wikimedia)

Portland DSA’s Medicare for All campaign has been working hard to keep the pressure on two key Oregon members of Congress in order to pass Medicare for All. Between the Senate and the US House, there are two electeds from Oregon who have not yet co-sponsored their respective versions of Medicare for All. Those Congress members are Senator Ron Wyden, and Representative Kurt Schrader.

Rep. Schrader is the target for the House bill, H.R. 1384, the Medicare for All Act of 2019, and has a primary challenger in 2020. Schrader sits on the important Energy and Commerce Committee which the bill will have to go through in order to get to a floor vote. Schrader is a member of the infamous “Blue Dog Dems Caucus.” An unsavory character with poor judgement, he is a part of the failing branch of the Democratic party and a perfect example of why Democrats at the electoral level of politics are out of touch with the American people.

Portland DSA’s Medicare for All campaign had the opportunity to pressure Rep. Schrader at his Town hall in May, and got the opportunity to ask him some pointed questions while... (read more)

May 16, 2019

5 Ways Medicare for All will Improve Children's Lives

by Harper Reid


Should the United States adopt a universal healthcare system? While the debate can get heated, it's difficult to argue that a single-payer system wouldn't save countless lives and would be a huge help to families all over the country.

Medicare for All would be administered at the federal level. It would be comprehensive, free at the point of service, and cover every US resident. The transition to a single-payer system would also include help for current industry employees. This way, those working in the current system won't have to worry about their jobs.

Medicare for All is especially important if we want to improve children’s lives. Here’s why:

Children will be covered before they’re even born

Prenatal care is extremely important to pregnancy. Screenings and check-ups can help to care for an unborn baby. Single-payer healthcare would allow expectant mothers to access these services and they'd be able to do so without worrying about whether or not they’re worth the cost. This would ensure that any issues during pregnancy could be taken care of so babies' good health is ensured from before day one.

Children will be given a better start in life

Even just giving birth... (read more)

May 6, 2019

All In: May - Medicare for All Enters New Territory

by DSA M4A

The campaign to win Medicare for All is entering new and exciting territory. Our demand is both more viable than it has ever been before, and more under attack than we have ever seen.

Within just the past few months, we’ve seen the introduction of Medicare for All bills in both the House and the Senate. Last week, Medicare for All had its first ever Congressional hearing — a landmark worth celebrating!

DSA member, lawyer and healthcare activist Ady Barkan, while dying of ALS, flew out to DC and delivered a powerful testimony:

"Despite these obstacles and despite the personal challenges that I face, I sit before you today a hopeful man, a hopeful husband, and a hopeful father. I am hopeful because right now, there is a mass movement of people from all over this country, rising up."

The day before the hearing, we joined Ady Barkan and National Nurses Unitedin a rally outside of the HQ of PhRMA (the most prominent pharmaceutical lobbyist). DSA chapters and other coalition groups have been diligently spreading the word for months through canvassing, town halls, and bird dogging their representatives. We can’t let stop now, and the bill now heads to... (read more)

May 1, 2019

I'm Dying From ALS and Here's My Message: No More Half Measures. Only Medicare for All

by Ady Barkan

Dying healthcare activist Ady Barkan speaking from his wheelchair on Monday, April 29, 2019, at a Medicare for All rally held in Washington, D.C. by National Nurses United. (Photo: Twitter/AdyBarkan)

Note: Ahead of a Tuesday hearing in the U.S. House Committee on Rules regarding Rep. Pramila Jayapal's bill to establish a single-payer Medicare for All health care system in the United States, dying healthcare activist Ady Barkan released the following prepared remarks. Owing to the advanced progression of his ALS, Barkan will deliver this testimony using a computer system that tracks his eye movements and subsequently converts text into speech. 

Chairman McGovern and members of the committee, thank you for inviting me to testify today. My name is Ady Barkan. I am thirty-five years old and I live in Santa Barbara, California with my brilliant wife Rachael and our beautiful toddler Carl. She is an English professor at the University of California Santa Barbara and I am an organizer at the Center for Popular Democracy and the Be A Hero project.

Watch Ady's Testimony

I earned my bachelor’s degree from Columbia University with a major in economics and my law degree from Yale Law School. For twenty years, since I... (read more)

April 30, 2019

Corporate Media Hate Medicare for All

by Alan MacLeod

Originally appeared with a different title at FAIR on April 29, 2019.

The Wall Street Journal (11/12/19) called Medicare for All a “false promise,” despite evidence that it would save the US trillions.

The race for the Democratic presidential nomination is heating up, and healthcare is a key issue up for debate. A number of high-profile candidates, including Kamala Harris, Tulsi Gabbard and Elizabeth Warren, have endorsed a Medicare for All solution to America’s healthcare problem. However, the idea is most closely associated with Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has made it a central platform of his election bid.

The United States spends around twice as much on healthcare as other high-income nations, with inferior results. Worse still, around 45 million Americans, 13.7 percent of the population, have no healthcare whatsoever. The Medicare for All plan, which aims to create a nationalized healthcare system like those employed by virtually every other high-income nation, is highly popular among the general public. In late 2018, polls from Reuters and Harris found that at least 70 percent of Americans supported the proposal—including majorities of Republicans.

However, corporate media appear to be almost univocally against the idea, with the flow of doom-mongering stories increasing to a roaring flood as the notion gains more traction... (read more)