By Jake Johnson
Common Dreams (11/21/18)
Medicare for All is rapidly surging in popularity among the American public and gaining momentum in Congress, but private insurance interests and Big Pharma have no intention of giving up their immensely profitable stranglehold on the U.S. healthcare system without a fight.
According to strategy documents obtained by The Intercept and the watchdog group Documented, the private healthcare industry is working aggressively alongside corporate Democrats to spread anti-single payer propaganda and “minimize the potential” for Medicare for All as an alternative to the current for-profit status quo.
Directed by former Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton staffers and leading insurance industry lobbyists, an alliance called the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future worked hard during the build-up to the 2018 midterm elections to convince candidates to ” focus on shoring up the Affordable Care Act (ACA) instead of supporting single-payer healthcare,” The Intercept reported on Tuesday.
“Private insurance and pharma have unlimited funds to lie to the media and manipulate politicians. But we have the power of an American public that knows winning Medicare for All is a matter of survival.” —Democratic Socialists Of America for Medicare for All
But now, after a number of unabashed Medicare for All advocates were elected to Congress and with a growing coalition of Democrats pushing for a voteon the House single-payer plan, Partnership is setting its sights on undermining Medicare for All’s prospects heading into 2020.
“We’re all focused on 2020,” Lauren Crawford Shaver, a former staffer on Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, said during a recent interview.
‘Peel support away’
The principle objective of Partnership’s project, The Intercept reports, is to “to peel support away” from Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) Medicare for All legislation, which was introduced with 16 Senate Democratic co-sponsors last September.
“In terms of tactics, it sounds like they will just be updating the same lines they used in the 1990s to sideline reform efforts and in the ACA fight to keep single-payer healthcare off the table,” Eagan Kemp, a healthcare policy advocate with Public Citizen, told The Intercept. “The Partnership for America’s Health Care Future would be more accurately titled the ‘Partnership for Profiting Off America’s Health Care.'”
In response to the private insurance industry’s campaign to undercut single-payer, Sanders wrote on Twitter that while “it will not be easy… we will win this struggle for Medicare for All because, increasingly, the American people understand healthcare is a right and not a privilege—and that we must guarantee healthcare to every man, woman, and child in this country.”
To combat surging grassroots enthusiasm for Medicare for All—which has been on display in recent surveys and massive door-knocking campaigns nationwide—The Intercept reported that Partnership’s campaign is encouraging “healthcare companies concerned about the growing popularity of Medicare for All to mobilize opposition among clients, customers, and employees.”
This effort has been assisted by the work of corporate Democratic think-tanks like Third Way [NOTE: Rep. Ron Kind has long played a big role in this Wall Street anti-family-security group. — Ed.], which took to the pages of the Washington Post the day after the midterm elections to boost moderate Democrats and spread hysteria about Medicare for All’s costs—conveniently omitting the fact that Sanders’ single-payer plan would save the American public $2 trillion, according to a Koch-funded study published in July.
But despite the deep pockets and entrenched political power of the private healthcare industry, Medicare for All proponents said they are not at all surprised by Partnership’s propaganda campaign and declared that grassroots momentum for single-payer will overwhelm those dedicated to maintaining a status quo that delivers far worse resultsat a much higher cost than every other industrialized nation in the world.
As Common Dreams reported, Medicare for All supporters detailed a pressure campaign of their own in a strategy call last week, vowing to wield surging grassroots enthusiasm to pressure congressional Democrats to get behind Medicare for All.
“We’re going to push the Democrats to do it,” declared Our Revolution president Nina Turner. “There is absolutely, unequivocally no excuse for the Democrats not to support Medicare for All.”
Speaking to The Intercept, Adam Gaffney, president-elect of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), said Medicare for All will only continue to gain steam as Americans are increasingly harmed by for-profit insurance.
“There is no brand loyalty to insurance companies, which are rightly seen as parasitic,” Gaffney said. “Once single-payer is widely understood as a program that covers everyone, that doesn’t impose copays and deductibles, that has more comprehensive benefits than existing plans, and that doesn’t employ restrictive insurance ‘networks,’ support will only grow.”
(This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.)
(Commoner Call photo by Mark L. Taylor, 2018. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to www.commoner call.org )
New Democratic House Leaders Steer Clear Of Medicare For All
By Bruce A, Dixon
Black Agenda Report (11/22/18)
In January the 116th Congress will swear in, this time with a Democratic majority in the House. Corporate Dems and even many self described lefties are still celebrating some kind of victory. But it ain’t so. The headline on a November 20 Roll Call article “On Medicare For All Democrats Tread Lightly” says it all. Now that Democrats control the House, they have no real intention of relieving the burden of 30 million uninsured, and tens of millions more carrying fake insurance too expensive to use, and still threatened by bankruptcy with any serious illness.
On health care, the priorities of Democratic House leaders are plugging up some of the minor holes in the Affordable Care Act, a bill written by and for the health insurance companies. Perhaps the biggest failing of Obamacare was that it left 20 million, now about 30 million low income Americans totally uninsured. The Affordable Care Act tied expansion of “benefits,” which are really no more than the ability to buy near-junk insurance policies – to low income Americans to expansion of the existing Medicaid program, which is administered by individual states. That’s a hole you can stampede elephants through, and the Republicans did just that. It left ACA application effectively in the hands of state governments at a time when the number of states dominated by Republican governors and legislatures was at an all time high.
Democrats leading the 116th Congress are the same crew that ruled the 110th elected in 2006. That mob refused to hold hearings on Katrina when they had all the committee chairmanships because they didn’t wish to be identified as the party of “those people.”.
Specially targeted programs are special targets, and when the perceived beneficiaries of the special programs are black they were irresistible targets for the White Man’s Party. “Why are THOSE PEOPLE entitled to some benefit that hard working people like ME aren’t” goes the cry. Never mind that there are more whites on Medicaid than backs – perception is what mattered. Georgia lawmakers made it a red meat issue and passed legislation requiring a supermajority for future legislatures to expand Medicaid. Democrats refused to address the hole they created allowing state level Republicans to block ACA coverage to millions, an outsize number but short of a majority black. They simply used it as another blue flag to wave at election time, along with the one about how Democrats were gonna protect us from a knuckle dragging Republican Supreme Court. We all know how that turned out.
Democrats leading the 116th Congress are the same crew that ruled the 110th elected in 2006. That mob refused to hold hearings on Katrina when they had all the committee chairmanships because they didn’t wish to be identified as the party of “those people.”. They declined to go for the impeachment of Cheney and Bush when they DID have the votes and public support – when many of them were elected to do precisely that. And they led the House when Democrats allowed health insurance companies to write the Affordable Care Act so they aren’t about to champion Medicare For All, which would eliminate 160,000 insurance company jobs while creating 640,000 new positions in health care delivery.
Put them on the spot
Passage would not be the point in the 116th Congress, given that Republicans still run the Senate and Donald Trump remains in the White House. It’s about educating the pubic, steering the debate and coverage and creating political theater. House Republicans in the 114th and 115th knew this and repealed Obamacare more than 50 times, even when they knew a Democrat-run Senate and a Democratic White House made passage of their repeals impossible. But they dominated the story.
Think of the debate and the political chemistry House Dems would create if they followed the Republican example and passed Medicare For All a dozen or more times in 2019 and 2020, knowing that Repubs would turn it down. But the Dems who will lead the 116th Congress are not fighters, except for the moneyed elite that bankrolls their careers.
Their brand of political theater isn’t about anything their corporate investors – I mean campaign contributors haven’t approved. So expect little movement on Medicare For All from the first Democrat-run House since 2011. When we meet the new bosses in January 2019, they’ll be pretty much the same as the old bosses.