October 4, 2018

Our Movement's Moment

by Michael Lighty

Originally appeared in Jacobin as "A Permanent Infrastructure" on February 15, 2018.

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The current crisis in US politics feels like irreconcilable differences based on race and gender. The meanness, partisanship, and division conveyed across media, practiced seemingly for electoral advantage, reveals a profound moral crisis building for decades. Despite what it seems, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, described the dynamic: "The tensions are not between the races, but between the forces of justice and injustice; between the forces of light and darkness."

As a democratic socialist, radical democrat and human rights leader, Dr. King understood what these kinds of media portrayals and personal invective also hide: the economic injustice at the root of our inhumanity.

We could talk about this crisis in many ways, but taking Dr. King as the touchstone, this Jacobin article addresses the injustice he found most inhumane: healthcare denied.

Though written a few months ago, the following piece speaks to the on-going importance of building a justice-based Medicare for All movement for the upcoming election and beyond.

Put directly, there is no health without justice, and there is no justice without health.

Other historical moments when we went... (read more)

September 25, 2018

The Medical Lobby is Already Peddling Lies About Medicare For All

by Ryan Cooper

Originally appeared August 16, 2018 in The Week.

Senator Bernie Sanders speaking with supporters at a campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa, January 2016. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Medicare-for-all is getting some real momentum behind it, with several more supporters winning congressional primaries [in August]. The medical industry — drug companies, insurance companies, medical providers, and others — has thus been gearing up to preserve the fat profits they enjoy under the horrendous status quo. They've formed a group called The Partnership for America's Health Care Future (PAHCF) to run a propaganda campaign against universal health care.

Their main argument is pretty clearly going to be centered around loss-aversion. "Most Americans support commonsense, pragmatic solutions that don't interrupt the coverage they rely upon for themselves and their families," PAHCF spokesman Erik Smith told The Hill. (Jonathan Chait and Paul Krugman have made similar points.)

But this argument is garbage. Medicare-for-all would mean vastly more people enjoying good health care, and dramatically fewer people getting kicked off their insurance overall.

For starters, the status quo system leaves about 30 million people uninsured. Those people don't get to rely on the "commonsense, pragmatic solutions" of our current system, they just go without health care, or die of... (read more)

September 19, 2018

What does democratic socialism mean?

by Meagan Day

Originally appeared on Vox, on August 1, 2018.

Medicare for All rally, Los Angeles, February 2017. Photo by Molly Adams.

As part of Vox's First Person series of personal essays, East Bay DSA member Meagan Day defined democratic socialism with authority as a DSA member, in the midst of so many articles this past summer attempting to explain the movement away as something none too radical.

Where does our Medicare for All campaign fall into her outlook?

Winning [Medicare for All] in the US would be an enormous relief to the millions of Americans who, even with insurance, find themselves stymied by claims denials and crushed by medical debt. Many progressives and an increasing number of centrist liberals — hell, even a few Trump voters — want the private insurance industry to be replaced by a single comprehensive public insurance program, one we all pay into with our taxes to relieve everyone of financial stress in times of illness. We want that too.

Read more at Vox.

Meagan Day is a staff writer at Jacobin magazine and a member of the East Bay DSA.

September 10, 2018

Chapter Spotlight: Seattle DSA

by Seattle DSA M4A

About a dozen Seattle Democratic Socialists of America members turned out on Sunday, August 14, 2018 to talk to their South Seattle neighbors about healthcare. Afterwards, they headed to a panel discussion at a nearby library to hear about how and why the American healthcare system is so broken, and most importantly, how we can organize to change it.

Our speakers, from left to right: Paul and Andrej of Seattle DSA, Stan Strasner of Seattle's Healthcare for Subs campaign, Jim Squire of Physicians for a National Health Plan, and Marti Schmidt of the National Lawyers Guild.

Seattle's efforts were their part of the Weekend of Action, a national effort organized by the Democratic Socialists for Medicare for All campaign. The campaign seeks to bring a universal, single-payer healthcare program to the United States, which would provide comprehensive healthcare to all American residents free at the point of service. DSA’s Democratic Socialists for Medicare for All is an ongoing campaign to make single-payer healthcare a reality.

"A universal program like Medicare for All means no gaps, no wedge where people can be left out." -Andrej Markovčič of Seattle DSA.

More than 30 DSA chapters held events across... (read more)

September 6, 2018

Chapter Spotlight: Albuquerque, Doña Ana County and Santa Fe

by Doña Ana County DSA, Albuquerque DSA, and DSA Santa Fe

Last year, New Mexican state legislators nearly passed the nation’s first state-based universal health care program. The New Mexico Health Security Act, a bill which will be introduced again during 2019’s legislative session, would establish a single health plan covering around 1,800,000 New Mexicans. The Health Security Plan would cover people regardless of their income, employment, citizenship status, gender, and current health and would be administered by a public body comprised of people from all over the state. This commission’s decisions would be discussed and made in open meetings, and so would be accountable to grassroots demands. The New Mexico Health Security Act would democratize health care and weaken capitalists’ power over workers.

The New Mexico Health Security Act has been built by over 145 organizations during the last 18 years. This coalition includes labor unions, faith contingents, consumer advocacy groups, grassroots and community organizers, and blocs of doctors, nurses, and working class people. After members lobbied legislators and spoke at committee hearings during New Mexico’s 2017 legislative session, DSA Santa Fe voted to become a member organization of the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign. Deepening our commitment to making health justice real, DSA Santa Fe resolved... (read more)

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. 🌹✊