August 31, 2018

Chapter Spotlight: Kanawha Valley DSA

by Dan T.

This August, West Virginia’s three main DSA chapters kicked off our first-ever joint campaign, focusing on the struggle to fund the Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA) in our state and its connection to our larger national demand for Medicare for All.

Meeting in Charleston, the state's capitol, we brought together members from Kanawha Valley, North Central West Virginia and the Eastern Panhandle, where we spent two days getting to know each other and strategizing for this statewide campaign. We held training on canvassing, power-mapping, developing a political education program for our members and bird-dogging candidates and established a committee to continue inter-chapter communication on the campaign going forward.

In our state, we just witnessed one of the most successful wildcat strikes of the last 50 years of US history. State school employees won a 5% wage increase not only for themselves, but for all state employees – demonstrating the power and potential of working people to win ambitious demands from the state. We knew, following this strike, that it was time to meet up and work to grow our DSA chapters together, seizing on the moment of increased worker militancy. 

Key leaders of the strike itself were DSA members... (read more)

August 28, 2018

Chapter Spotlight: East Bay DSA

by Matt Stone

Jovanka Beckles knows all too well how capitalism is an assault on working people’s health and well-being. As a social worker, she meets with children every day who suffer from severe asthma and other respiratory problems—not to mention the social and and financial costs that compound when working families have to cope with these chronic illnesses. Worst of all, these health problems are no coincidence; for years now, the people of Richmond, CA have been struggling against the Chevron oil refinery in their town and the environmental and public health impact of its rampant pollution.

Jovanka Beckles led this fight as a two-term City Council member backed by the Richmond Progressive Alliance, a coalition of corporate money-free politicians and organizers who took on Chevron and imposed $115 million in taxes on them, in addition to new environmental regulations to keep their community healthy. As part of the RPA, Jovanka helped fight back against corporate greed to address the devastating public health effects of the Chevron refinery.

Now, Jovanka wants to take that fight to Sacramento, and East Bay DSA has been working tirelessly to get her there. In fall 2017, Jovanka Beckles and the RPA approached our chapter about... (read more)

August 23, 2018

Chapter Spotlight: DSA Long Beach's August Weekend of Action

by Chad Sjule

Members of DSA Long Beach and Our Revolution campaign for single-payer health care in April 2018.

On a sunny August morning, Marlene Alvarado asked her fellow DSA members a probing question: "What motivates you guys to come out and, without getting paid, knock on people’s doors in this heat?" The temperature registered 80 degrees at 10 AM, but the real heat was on the friends and family members of the canvassing crew. 

Patty Clark’s son contracted hemolytic uremic syndrome, a malady that affects the blood vessels, at the age of five. By age nine his kidneys started to fail, prompting his doctor to move him into the local hospital’s intensive care unit. Overcoming a chronic condition takes willpower and courage. Unfortunately, in the United States, it also requires stacks of cash and an unyielding determination to push back against a health insurance industry that is always looking to pad its bottom line. Patty’s son survived the hospital scare, but the same could not be said for her finances. Even with employer provided health insurance, Patty owed thousands of dollars in copays that she could not afford to relinquish. To this day the family continues to make sacrifices to pay... (read more)

August 18, 2018

Sorry, Bernie Is Right

by Matt Bruenig

Originally published online at Jacobin, August 13, 2018.

Bernie Sanders speaking to a crowd of nearly 1,600 students at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, IA on Thursday, January 28, 2016. Photo by Phil Roeder.

Two weeks ago, the libertarian Mercatus Center released a report estimating the cost of Bernie Sanders’s Medicare-for-All proposal. Like most think tank products, the author and communications team behind the Koch-funded Mercatus report carefully cultivated a certain kind of media coverage in pursuit of their political agenda. In this case, the political goal was to undermine Medicare for All by getting journalists to write that it was impossibly expensive.

You can tell that this was their goal by looking at how the Mercatus paper was written, and specifically how its abstract was written. The first sentence contains the claim that many journalists put as their headline and lede: Medicare for All will “increase federal budget commitments by approximately $32.6 trillion” between 2022 and 2031. The rest of the abstract, and indeed the rest of the text of the paper, omits the more important fact that their estimate states that overall health expenditures would fall by $2 trillion over that period.

The abstract then says “doubling all currently projected federal individual and corporate income... (read more)

August 18, 2018

August 11 & 12; a Weekend of Action

by DSA M4A

This past weekend, over 40 DSA chapters across the country took part in our second national #MedicareForAll Weekend of Action! 

We talked to our neighbors about bills like U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders' Medicare for All Act (S.1804), and its house counterpart, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act (H.R. 676) - which provide a single-payer, comprehensive, universal healthcare system in America. 

Some chapters tabled, canvassed, or held town halls. Some integrated their work with DSA endorsed candidates like Julia Salazar for State Senate and Jovanka Beckles. Others trained new canvass leaders, did banner drops, or defended reproductive rights.

Together, we're building a movement to fight for a healthcare system that puts working people over profits—and we're gaining steam. 🌹✊

August 9, 2018

Single-Payer or Bust

by Adam Gaffney

This piece was originally published in Dissent's Spring 2018 issue, in a special section on Healthcare for All edited by Adam Gaffney.

Saskatchewan Premier Tommy Douglas speaking at the opening of the University Hospital in Saskatoon, May 14, 1955 (Image number R-B2876-1, Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan)

In the 1960s, a struggle took place over the fate of healthcare in Canada. On one side, there were the proponents of the single-payer program called Medicare, like the stubborn Scottish-born socialist Tommy Douglas. Medicare was modeled on a program passed in the province of Saskatchewan in 1961 under Douglas’s leadership, which provided universal coverage of physicians’ services (the province’s 1947 plan for universal hospital coverage had already been federalized in the late 1950s). And on the other side there were those who advocated a more gradual approach, such as Ernest Manning, the premier of Alberta, who went on television in 1965 to ask the nation to “look before we leap.” After all, the Saskatchewan program—funded by premiums and a slew of new taxes—had been implemented only after a bruising physicians’ strike, which ended only after twenty-three bitter, dangerous days that made international headlines. And that was just in one snowy, sparsely populated province—this was what Douglas was now demanding for the entire nation.

It wasn’t that Manning was opposed to expanding healthcare access. On the... (read more)

August 2, 2018

Medicare for All Weekend of Action 8/11-8/12

by DSA M4A

Support for Medicare for All has never been greater, and the failures of incremental reform have never been so clear.

Our demand for a federally funded single-payer Medicare for All system has fast become the leading issue for insurgent democratic socialist politicians. And it has captured the imagination of the working-class majority too. Recently, Representatives Keith Ellison, Pramila Jayapal, and Debbie Dingell announced the new Medicare for All Caucus in the House. Single-payer will soon be a litmus test for all politicians.

This is in no small part thanks to our work in DSA. Every week, thousands of members are organizing across the country to pressure elected officials and talk to their neighbors, co-workers and family members to broaden the support for Medicare for All. We’re building the movement for a piece of real democratic socialism.

However, we have a long road ahead. The Trump administration and the billion dollar lobbying operation launched by the insurance industry are dead-set on discrediting the Medicare for All movement. Moreover, our threats are not limited to them. In many ways, we have a more insidious danger to confront: the liberal establishment.

Recently, liberal pundits in the press have muddied the debate on... (read more)

July 24, 2018

The U.K. Created A Health Care System To End Class Privilege. America Must Do The Same.

by Benjamin Y. Fong and Dustin Guastella

Originally appeared on Huffington Post on July 5, 2018.

National Health Service Junior Doctors on strike outside Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital over cuts to NHS programs, April 2016. Photo: Roger Blackwell.

At the beginning of the 20th century, British health care was in shambles: fragmented, inadequate and largely propped up by private philanthropy. In 1911, the liberal government introduced the National Insurance Act, but it was very limitedand covered only workers, not their dependents.

When the Labour Party ascended to power in 1945, its health minister, Aneurin Bevan, was prepared to defend a new system of health care provision that was opposed, in his words, to the “hedonism of capitalist society.”

Described as a “squalid nuisance” by Winston Churchill and a “medical Führer” by the British Medical Association, Bevan laid out clear principles for the creation of the National Health Service that were built neither around apolitical concerns about economic efficiency nor technocratic concerns of functionality. By funding health care through general taxation and making it free at the point of service, the primary goal behind the NHS was to abolish class privilege in health care.

In a leaflet distributed shortly before the NHS opened, the service was described as a program whereby: “Everyone... (read more)

July 24, 2018

Medicare for All's Demands Are Clear and Not to Be Defined by Politicians, Lobbyists or Pundits

by Tim Higginbotham and Chris Middleman

Originally appeared on Vox, on July 13, 2018.

Courtesy of Philly DSA

The movement for Medicare for All is something to be reckoned with — but we need to keep the pressure up. It's great news that House representatives are forming a Medicare for All caucus, but, as DSA members have written in Vox, we need to keep them fighting for our interests and not those of private insurers or pharmaceutical companies.

Let there be no doubt — Medicare-for-all is a universal, public program that would provide comprehensive medical care to all American residents, totally free at the point of use. Any attempt by pundits or lobbyists to muddy the waters around this proposal is an obvious attempt to co-opt the campaign’s momentum with an eye toward weakening future legislation and protecting the interests of health-industry profiteers.

Read the whole piece by DSA M4A organizers here.

Tim Higginbotham and Chris Middleman are organizers on the Democratic Socialists for Medicare for All campaign's Communications Subcommittee.

July 12, 2018

Chapter Spotlight: Boulder DSA

by Boulder DSA

Last month, after a long canvassing campaign, the Boulder Democratic Socialists of America held a Medicaid Sign-up Event at a local library. As a steady stream of applicants arrived, a dedicated staff of volunteers were on hand to assist anyone who might have been eligible for state Medicaid benefits with the online application, and to walk them through the process step-by-step.

The response from the community was overwhelmingly positive, and now we are pushing the boundaries of our campaign farther into the neighboring town of Longmont, where we will be holding another sign-up on July 21st. Longmont, a huge part of Boulder County, has been heavily affected by the exponential wealth growth in the area over recent years, where life has become increasingly difficult for the working class. 

One of our strategies in working to implement a universal health system in the United States is to try to expand current social health programs. And while there may be ample funding allocated for these programs in Boulder County, the State of Colorado’s Medicaid system is entirely web-based, and the application process is a daunting, bureaucratic task. We stand by the belief that no one should be prevented from taking... (read more)