Sen. Sanders Has His Health Priorities Backwards

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We thought that Senator Sanders was on track to introduce and advocate for a national improved Medicare for All bill, but Tuesday he stated publicly  at a Planned Parenthood rally that his priorities are to first defeat the Republican health plan, then to improve the Affordable Care Act with a public option or allowing people to buy-in to Medicare, and then we can work for single payer.

This was confirmed by his deputy communications director Josh Miller-Lewis who said “[Sanders has] said many times over the last six months that we need to move toward a Medicare-for-all system, but in the short-term we should improve the ACA with a public option and by lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 55.”

This is the line being used by the Democrats to take the single payer movement off track. It’s the same line that worked so effectively in 2009-10. I wrote about that with Kevin Zeese in 2013 in “Obamacare: The Biggest Insurance Scam in History.”

We have to be smarter than that this time. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was a huge bail out for the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries at a time when almost 50 million people in the US were without health insurance. It set up markets to sell insurance that everyone was mandated to buy, unless they were covered by a public insurance, hired people to sell the insurance and subsidized the purchase of health insurance with $100 billion every year. Think about it – that $100 billion is going straight into the bank accounts of the private health insurance companies who are designed to spend as little as they can on actual health care.

Neither another public insurance nor an option to buy into Medicare will solve the healthcare crisis in the United States. They won’t cover the tens of millions who are still without health insurance. They won’t get rid of the co-pays and deductibles that make people with health insurance avoid or delay seeking care due to cost. They won’t bring down the prices of health services and pharmaceuticals. They won’t end bankruptcy due to medical illness.

Only a National Improved Medicare for All single payer healthcare system will achieve those goals.

We are already spending enough on health care in the US to provide comprehensive health care to everyone. We have a bill that lays out the framework for a National Improved Medicare for All healthcare system: HR 676. A majority of Democrats in the House have signed on to it as co-sponsors.

So, why are they trying to convince us to accept a public option or a Medicare buy-in? It’s because they are corrupted by money – campaign contributions that they receive from the corporations that profit from the current system. You may say, well Bernie doesn’t take corporate money, so why would he go along with this charade? It may be because he has greater allegiance to the Democratic Party than he has to the supporters of Medicare for All, his base. He may fear losing positions on committees or his new position of leadership within the party.

What do we do?

We have to be clear and uncompromising in our demand for National Improved Medicare for All NOW! We can’t put this fight off any longer because those in power will always try to knock us off course. The people and their families who are suffering under the current healthcare (non)system can’t wait any longer.

We have to put Bernie back on track!

Flood his office with phone calls: 202 224 5141.

Contact your Senators and urge them not to support a public option or Medicare for some. Tell them to support National Improved Medicare for All now. And ask them if they would like to be the single payer champion and introduce a senate companion bill to HR 676.

Perhaps Senator Elizabeth Warren is that champion. She admitted this week that the ACA was a conservative model and that the next step is single payer. She is urging Democrats to support Medicare for All.

Keep organizing and mobilizing for National Improved Medicare for All. The next series of events will be around Medicare’s birthday at the end of July. Click here to read the call to action.

Social movements have always been told that they are asking for too much. National Improved Medicare for All is not too much – it is what we need. And we will win this struggle!


  • ywsf

    Bernie off track now? Maybe this reporter is off track. Its just step one and step two. Stop ruining things with your whining. You are not going to flip 230 Million people overnight to Medicare. It will be a long transition. Fixing both is fine by me in the short term. We are now seeing a lot of anti Democrat and now anti Bernie stories. Is this Republican paid stories or the same old rhetoric of liberals always eating their own. Cut it out.

  • Linda Jansen

    What do you mean it will take time? There are groups of physicians, nurses and activists who have been working on getting single payer for decades.

    Dr. Flowers is exactly right that we have to be aware of the traps laid for us by the Democrats who are obviously in the thrall of their insurance company and PHarma donors. We can’t keep falling for these fake Dem campaigns expressing support for single payer only to pull the rug out from under us (please refer to the recent California speaker’s refusal to bring a well supported single payer bill out of committee for a vote).

    Bernie has been gaslighting us about putting out a single payer bill in the Senate for months. Why? Because he now works for the DNC as its outreach director. That is where his loyalty lies. And the Dem leadership’s loyalty is to their donors, otherwise we could have single payer in 2009 when the Dems had the house, the Senate and the White House.

    Open up your eyes and help us organize at The only way to get single payer is to build a big enough movement that whoever is in charge is forced to give in and give the majority of people in this country what they want: enhanced Medicare for All (single payer). Saves money and saves lives. Let’s catch up to the rest of the developed world.

  • ywsf

    Build your movement. Make it happen. but don’t blame Bernie who pushed this agenda to the front page. Bernie is working is ass off for us, and just because its not YOUR way doesn’t make it wrong.

  • AlanMacDonald

    Yes, Margaret, Sanders started with the brave sounding two-word sound-bite of “Political Revolution” and since collapsing like a cheap suitcase and shilling for Hill, has further backed down from his “Political Revolution” (Against what? Against WTF, Bernie?) and is now hardly even addressing even the ‘single issue’ of Health Care — let alone the panoply of all the other; smaller “issues”, other large (but still subordinate) ‘symptom problems’ (like expanding wars, WS looting, massive inequality, racism, et.) — nor has ‘laid a glove-on’ the cancerous core meta-causal disease of EMPIRE.

    A rational and humane posture on Health Care for all Americans is the least controversial, highest supported, and easiest “Issue” of all to address — while the EMPIRE is the actual CAUSE of all our problems and which Bernie is furthest from saying anything about, let alone even whispering the truth.

    Here’s my comment today to NYT’s Paul Krugman on his column that
    only addresses one ‘issue’ — out of the whole dual-party
    Vichy-political facade of faux-democracy ‘covering-up’ for this

    “While Paul correctly notes that the ‘rougher-talking’ neocon
    ‘R’ Vichy Party is trying to “Take health insurance away from
    tens of millions, make it much worse and far more expensive for
    millions more, and use the money thus saved to cut taxes on the
    wealthy” — it should be more fully understood by; Paul, the
    NYT, and most importantly ‘we the people’ that this is only one of
    the slightly tougher tactics of one of the two Vichy Parties, and
    only addressing the increasing domestic policy of looting (not fully
    tyrannizing yet) the people in the metropole of this first in all of
    human history: ‘effectively-disguised’, ‘truly-global’, and crony
    ‘capitalist-fueled’ EMPIRE today, merely HQed in, and ‘posing’ as,
    our former country.

    The bigger picture that Paul is not aware of, or is failing to
    reveal, is as Hannah Arendt warned her own German people, that;
    “Empire abroad entails tyranny at home”.

    All of the increasing ‘issues’ (including this mere domestic
    looting “at home” of health care funds to support local
    elites), along with foreign wars to loot “abroad” for
    broader elites, are crimes of all Empires — including this first
    truly Global Empire.

    In fact, as the old saying goes, “Can’t see the forest for
    the trees” — all these domestic and foreign ‘issues’ and
    ‘symptom problems’ of Empire assist in it’s own ‘effective-disguise’,
    since we Americans “Can’t see the forest of EMPIRE for the trees
    of ISSUES”.

  • chetdude

    Bernie allowed himself to be capture on the two prongs of the USAmerican political fork…

    1) He believes that he must retain what power and privileges he has been granted by the democrat “leadership” in the Senate in order to “do good”…

    2) In order to keep those execrable democrat “leaders” from stripping him of his power and privileges and probably supporting an opponent in his next primary (for the first time in decades), his job he must “tone down” his rhetoric…

    3) Thanks to 1 and 2 he’s becoming more impotent at leading real Change – as designed…

    Fiendishly self-protective system those economic, gender and racial elites created back in the late 1700s, eh? Still going strong to protect the wealth and privilege of that same elite class…

  • chetdude

    It’s interesting that the “Man of the People” is ignoring the demands of the vast majority of the actual People, whether they label themselves “Democrat”, “Republican”, “Independent”, “Green” or whatever for an Expanded and Improved Medicare for All as a good first step toward Health Care in USAmerica…

    Alas, Bernie has allowed himself to be captured on the two prongs of the USAmerican political fork…

    1) He believes that he must retain what power and privileges he has been granted by the democrat “leadership” in the Senate in order to “do good”…

    2) In order to keep those execrable democrat “leaders” from stripping him of his power and privileges and probably supporting an opponent in his next primary (for the first time in decades) to cost him his “job” (completely emasculate him), he must “tone down” his rhetoric and demands…

    3) Thanks to 1 and 2 he’s becoming more impotent at leading real Change.

    As designed…

    What a fiendishly effective self-protective system those economic, gender and racial elites created back in the late 1700s, eh? Still going strong to protect the wealth and privilege of that same elite class they represented…

  • chetdude

    “You are not going to flip 230 Million people overnight to Medicare”

    Most of the civilized nations on the Planet with Comprehensive, Universal insurance/care pretty much DID THAT when they put into place their various systems…

    In fact, the Swiss voted it in in the 90s and Taiwan had a UC Berkely professor help them design a system based on the best in the world and immediately implemented it…

    It’s funny, USAmericans can invent a workable atomic weapon in just a couple of years and incinerate hundreds of thousand with it, can “send a man to the moon” pretty much from scratch in less than 10 years, can keep financing a $1.3 Trillion/year bloated war machine that can’t win a war and yet “cannot” provide Health Care for all of the people living here?

    Even when there’s a VERY popular framework already in place that simply needs shoring up, expansion and extension to everyone and when doing so would save a half Trillion dollars per year of what’s ALREADY spent by taxpayers on corporate-for-profit sick care…

  • DHFabian

    “Medicare for All” is health care coverage for some. Low-income seniors and the disabled rely on dual benefits, Medicare/Medicaid, with Medicaid covering essential prescriptions, treatments, etc. Medicaid also goes toward subsidizing rent for assisted living apartments for the low-income elderly and the disabled.

    Sen. Sanders used to speak out powerfully about poverty and the need for legit poverty relief. That doesn’t sell to today’s Democrats, so he dropped these issues.

  • DHFabian

    Well, Democrats know that universal health care (by any other name) wouldn’t make sense in today’s America. There would be no logic in allowing anything more than emergency room services for our very poor, just to dump them back on the streets. Lack of adequate food and shelter take a very heavy toll on human health. In fact, since Democrats ended actual welfare aid, the overall life expectancy of the US poor already fell below that of every developed nation.

  • DHFabian

    What’s tragic is that Sanders used to support democratic socialism, shining a light on US poverty (proof of the grave short-comings of our capitalism) and the need for legit poverty relief programs. That doesn’t sell to post-Clinton Democrats and liberals. So, Sanders leaned to the right for his campaign, dropping the poverty issue. We can say that he is flexible in his heart-felt convictions.

    “Tyranny at home.” Well, we actually have been implementing fascism, by definition, for years. Because the US is an economic entity, it makes sense that ours is a class-based form. We’ve already stripped the poor of a list of fundamental civil and human rights. That’s fascism, and it quietly trickles up.

  • DHFabian

    “Medicare for all” is not universal health care, and the Democrats know this. The low-income elderly and the disabled rely on dual benefits, Medicare/Medicaid, with Medicaid covering the costs of essential prescriptions, treatments, etc., and providing for subsidized rent in assisted living apts. for the elderly and the disabled.

  • DHFabian

    Explain the logic of providing anything more than emergency room services to the poor, just to dump them back on the streets. Lack of adequate food and shelter take a very heavy toll on human health. We’re now 20-some years into a hell of a war on the poor, to which liberals have given their implicit support. It’s not possible to separate these issues.

  • mwildfire

    Nope. It ISN’T always more effective to push toward gradual change. In this case, given that single-payer healthcare in very popular with the US public DESPITE the media blackout on it, and given the degree to which our current nightmare of a system is wrecking our economy, there is plenty of pressure to push toward a good solution, instead of another Obamacare. The Republicans have shown that when the leader stands up and calls boldly for what is needed, without compromise, s/he gets enough support to get elected–it’s the Democrats who weasel and whine and promise to give us a good, comprehensive, universal-coverage system just as soon as their donors say it’s okay.
    Anyway, Bernie’s no saint. He supports the Zionist deathgrip on Palestine, and at least SOME of the perpetual wars.

  • Anytime anyone associated with the Democratic (sic) Party promises us anything, we should remember “change we can believe in,” the most malicious Big Lie in USian political history. More importantly, we should remember what we inflicted on ourselves by our breathtakingly gullible acceptance of it: Obama the Orator and his instant post-election shape-shift into Barack the Betrayer.

    It was “change” indeed — a host of executive orders that nullified the Constitution and thereby cleared the way for imposition of the Trump/Pence Regime’s JesuNazi agenda. Anyone who still believes this sequence of events was coincidental — that the Betrayer’s Capitalist-protecting treachery and Trump/Pence’s Capitalism-perpetuating imposition of theocracy were not scripted years in advance — is either a fool or an ignoramus who remains blind to Capitalism’s infinite malignancy.

    Point being, Sanders’ continuing liaison with the Democrats — especially his cunningly phrased reversal on single-payer — tells us he’s just another Betrayer, that as we were all maliciously fucked by Barack the Betrayer, so are we now being maliciously fucked by Bernie the Betrayer. Such is the function of the Democratic (sic) Party and everyone in it: to provide the illusion of a two-party system when in fact we are governed by one Ruling Class party that hides its unyielding Capitalist despotism behind the Big Lie of two names. Which is why we will never have health care as a human right until we recognize Capitalism as the ultimate human wrong and abolish it accordingly.

  • kevinzeese

    Are you being intentional obtuse? Medicare for all is universal healthcare. It would unite Medicare and Medicaid and provide greater services to everyone than either program. Improved Medicare for all means everybody — every person in the United States — is in the same program; and every health provider is in the same system.

  • kevinzeese

    The US transitioned all people over 65 from insurance to Medicare in one year in 1965. They did so without computers. They used index cards! We can make that transition and do so rapidly.

  • kevinzeese

    The logic that poor deserve full health benefits? Absurd question. They are human beings who deserve the human right of healthcare. They also deserve a basic income or a job if they are able, and affordable housing. Not sure why you oppose poor people being treated like human beings with basic human rights.

  • kevinzeese

    Bernie is in the leadership of the Democrats in the US Senate and is working his ass off for the Democratic Party. He is constantly traveling to pull people into the Democratic Party.

    We are building our movement. In fact, the Medicare for all movement existed before Bernie Sanders ran for president. Don’t give him credit for it. He is part of it, but he is not the movement, no one person is.

    Right now, Sanders is pushing the Democratic Party goals of protecting the ACA (which means protecting the insurance industry) rather than protecting the necessities of the people which means healthcare for all. Universal healthcare can only be achieved through expanded and improved Medicare for all. Right now, 29,000 a year are dying because of lack of healthcare. This is a health crisis There is no time for delay. The Democratic Party does not come before solving the health crisis with improved Medicare for all.

  • chetdude

    HR676 – Expanded and Improved Medicare for All is universal care…

    “The bill would create a publicly financed, privately delivered health care system that builds on the existing Medicare program. It would improve and expand Medicare to cover all U.S. residents.”

  • chetdude

    HR676 recognizes that without a strong effective preventive and primary care component, it wouldn’t work.

    So, it’s does MUCH more for poor people (and all people, for that matter) than relegate them to “emergency room services” alone…