Call center workers employed by Maximus went on strike at four locations—in Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Virginia—on Tuesday, Nov. 1. Maximus is a federal contractor, and during the open enrollment period, workers there handle a nonstop stream of high-stakes calls from people trying to navigate the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and Medicaid systems, but they have been pushed to their limit. As stated in a Twitter thread posted by Call Center Workers United, “We’ve been saying for years: during ACA open enrollment, we’re dealing with constant back-to-back calls. Some frustrated callers become abusive and subject us to racist and sexist slurs. We’re paid wages so low it’s nearly impossible to support a family. We’ve had enough.
Put aside Democrat versus Republican. Let’s just look at corporations versus people. Elizabeth (Liz) Fowler has a stellar corporate resume. For seven years, she worked at Johnson & Johnson, as vice president for global health policy. Before joining Johnson & Johnson, she was chief health counsel to Senate Finance Committee chair Max Baucus, who banned single payer advocates from the deliberations that led to the insurance company dominated Affordable Care Act. In her off time, Fowler is a runner. She runs marathons and triathlons around the world. During work hours, she carries the torch for the health insurance industry and big pharmaceutical companies. And it doesn’t matter whether she is in the public or private sector.
As the American Rescue Plan (ARP) winds its way through Congress, some progressives are hailing its health provisions as the greatest expansion of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 10 years, while conservatives are claiming that it is a slippery slope to a national Medicare for All system. Democrats have decided to forego seeking Republican support for President Biden’s $1.9 trillion promise of relief to those suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic and recession by using the budget reconciliation process. This has Republicans worried the legislation will be used to advance the progressive agenda to expand government health care programs. However, at the end of the day, while the bill may be used to strengthen some provisions in the ACA, it will not move the United States’s health care system any closer to the popular national improved Medicare for All system that we need.
The raging argument on the left between progressives who argue for radical change and centrists who advocate incrementalism is hardly new. Nearly a century ago, progressive titan and Wisconsin governor Robert La Follette and FDR were often at loggerheads over the same question. Roosevelt, La Follette complained, was too quick to compromise with reactionaries. FDR insisted that “half a loaf is better than no bread.” While that might seem intuitively obvious, La Follette had a ready reply. “Half a loaf, as a rule, dulls the appetite, and destroys the keenness of interest in attaining the full loaf.” That can be dangerous. The average adult male requires approximately 2500 calories of nutrition per day.
Today we face the COVID-19 pandemic, with its resultant economic downturn and systemic racism—the triple crises that have exposed the serious problems of U. S. health care. It is now obvious to most observers that the system is broken, raising the question of how it can be put together through the political process after a hotly contested election season filled with disinformation and confusion about potential reform alternatives. Corporatization, privatization, a shift from not-for-profit to for-profit health care, and the growth of investor-owned corporate health care have been dominant themes in the transformation of U. S. health care since the 1980s.
Oral arguments began in the case California v. Texas this week, just days after the confirmation of Trump-appointed justice Amy Coney Barrett. For the third time in the past 10 years, Republicans have launched yet another legal attack at the Supreme Court in an attempt to eliminate healthcare coverage for millions. Republicans hope to use the new 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court to deal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) a final blow. In 2010, former President Obama introduced what would become his signature legislation under the name of the Affordable Care Act, known commonly as Obamacare.
Once again, the fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the health law passed under the Obama administration in 2010, will be in the hands of the Supreme Court. The court heard oral arguments in the case, California v. Texas, on Tuesday. A decision is expected in the spring. This is the third time the law has been tested in the Supreme Court, but this time experts are not certain the outcome will be as favorable as it was in 2012 and 2015 due to the loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her replacement with Amy Coney Barrett.
By Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. Washington, DC - With the September 30 deadline for the budget reconciliation process looming, Senate Republicans attempted once again to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Senators Lindsay Graham of South Carolina and Dr. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana submitted legislation last week that would end the Medicaid expansion, cut federal funds for Medicaid and allow states to decide that insurers could deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. States would also no longer have to require that insurers cover essential benefits, as defined in the ACA. The bill seemed dead by the end of last week when Senator John McCain announced that he would vote against it. But Senators Graham and Cassidy went into high gear over the weekend to add extra funding for states like Alaska, Maine and Arizona to encourage their support. Activists throughout the country also geared up to fight back.
By Jake Johnson for Common Dreams - While the Senate GOP's plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been denounced as potentially devastating to the poor, the sick, women, people of color, children, and those with pre-existing conditions, a new analysis published Monday finds that no matter what happens, the CEOs of large healthcare companies are likely to continue living lavishly. "The median household income in 2015 was $56,515, which the average healthcare CEO made in less than a day." Bob Herman, Axios Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed in 2010, the "CEOs of 70 of the largest U.S. healthcare companies cumulatively have earned $9.8 billion," according to a report by Axios's Bob Herman. Herman goes on to add that the CEOs' earnings "far outstrip[ped] the wage growth of nearly all Americans." "The richest year [for healthcare CEOs] was 2015, when 70 healthcare CEOs collectively made $2 billion," Herman notes. "That was an average of about $28.5 million per CEO and a median of about $17.3 million per CEO. The median household income in 2015 was $56,515, which the average healthcare CEO made in less than a day."
By Phillip Longman for Democracy Journal - Compared to the discourse in the other party’s nomination process, the debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders over health-care reform may have seemed thoughtful and on point. Clinton argued that Sanders’s “Medicare for all” plan was too expensive to ever become law and was also a threat to the progress achieved by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Sanders criticized Clinton for compromising the progressive goal of a single-payer system that would make health care a right. Eventually, Clinton moved Sanders’s way a bit, announcing in May that she had her own plan for letting people buy into Medicare, and then in July that she supported a public option insurance plan. Unfortunately, however, both sides scored mostly moot points, because both ignored a mega-trend in the business of health care: its increasing control by corporate monopolies. The massive increase in concentrated ownership occurring throughout the health-care sector could, at least in theory, lead to better coordinated care delivered at lower prices. This is the supposition behind key provisions of the ACA that directly and indirectly encourage health-care providers to merge. But experience has shown that consolidation, far from “bending the cost curve,” instead leads to higher prices, for the simple reason that mergers reduce competition.
By Margaret Flowers for Health Over Profit. The Republicans are seeking a way to keep their promise to repeal and replace the ACA, but they are finding that this is not very easy to do. There are deep divides within the party over cuts to Medicaid and subsidies for premiums. And the changes they are currently proposing will leave tens of millions more people without insurance. This is highly unpopular with the public, and the Republicans are being hit with widespread opposition. President Trump is so discouraged that he’s calling for an all out repeal now with a replacement to be determined down the road. This would be political suicide if they can’t come up with a solution. Despite the Democratic base’s overwhelming support for National Improved Medicare for All single payer health care, the Democrats are saying that we can’t do that yet because first they want to fix the ACA. We hear Democrats and their supporters in the media and non-profit world saying that we just need to “stabilize the market” and suggesting the addition of a public insurance, which they call a public option, or allowing people to buy into Medicare as a way to insure more people.
By Kevin Zeese for Popular Resistance. Former President Obama seems to be cashing in or receiving a payoff for his policies as president. He will be receiving a $400,000 payment from a mid-size investment firm, Cantor FItzgerald to speak at a healthcare conference in September. Obama had the chance when his party controlled the House and Senate to actually solve the healthcare crisis by putting in place improved Medicare for all (and don’t fall for the BS that he could not have done it). Instead he put in place the failed Affordable Care Act whose centerpiece was to force people to buy inadequate health insurance. The ACA has failed to control the cost of premiums, co-pays and deductibles while providing shrinking health coverage. It was a gift to the insurance industry, pharmaceutical industry and investors who profit from healthcare. Cantor Fitzgerald is one of those healthcare profiteers that benefits greatly from the ACA.
By Jon Kelvey for the Carroll County Times. But even Hahn, who enthusiastically supported the health care law, said there were problems that needed to be addressed, such as what navigators called “the family glitch.” When considering whether a family was still eligible to purchase a tax subsidized plan when one parent was offered insurance through an employer, the test was whether the cost of the employer plan was affordable for just one parent, not the entire family. This sometimes leaves one parent out in the cold. “She has affordable health insurance,” Hahn said, “Dad is going to have to pay full price on the health exchange.” Flowers, rather than critiquing any one piece of the Affordable Care Act, attacked it as an insufficient compromise and that the best fix would be to expand Medicare coverage to all citizens — a single payer national insurance model such as in Canada.