By Margaret Flowers for Health Over Profit. Roll Call reports that the Republicans introduced legislation, the Obamacare Replacement Act, in both the House and the Senate. The plan, known as the Sanford-Paul Plan for its lead sponsors, has the support of the strongest Republican caucus, the Freedom Caucus. Leaving insurance plans up to the market to determine means that low cost plans will cover very little and the fact will remain that people in the US will only be able to receive health care if they can afford it. In order to make progress in the demand for National Improved Medicare for All, we need a companion bill to HR 676 in the Senate. Senator Sanders, a long-time advocate for single payer health care, is the most obvious senator to be the lead sponsor but he has refused to make a commitment to introducing single payer legislation. We must push Senator Sanders to introduce a senate companion bill to HR 676 quickly.
The new campaign is called “Health Over Profit for Everyone (HOPE): Making health the bottom line.” It has the sole focus of shifting the political culture in the United States so that National Improved Medicare for All (NIMA) is the only politically-feasible solution in the next four years. We can do it! Just as we have worked together in broad coalitions to put reclassification of the internet on the table and to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership, we also have the power to win NIMA. A strong group of NIMA advocates have joined to form the steering committee. We’ve created an activism website at HealthOverProfit.org that contains information and tools you’ll need to educate, organize and mobilize. We’ll provide national conference calls and coordinate days of action.
By Margaret Flowers for Health Over Profit. Few people outside of single payer activist circles are aware that Senator Sanders introduced an amendment on the Senate floor in December 2009 that would have replaced the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with a single payer health system. It was the first time in the history of the United States that single payer legislation was brought to the floor for a vote. Sadly, it was a Republican doctor who killed the amendment. This happened during the height of the health reform process in the Senate; the House had already passed its version of the legislation. It was the result of a year of pressure to include a single payer health system, National Improved Medicare for All (NIMA), in the health reform debate, grassroots pressure that included nonviolent direct action.
By Sarah Jaffe for In These Times – Welcome to Interviews for Resistance. In this series, we’ll be talking with organizers, troublemakers, and thinkers who are working both to challenge the Donald Trump administration and the circumstances that created it. It can be easy to despair, to feel like trends toward inequality are impossible to stop, to give in to fear over increased racist, sexist and xenophobic violence. But around the country, people are doing the hard work of fighting back and coming together to plan for what comes next. This series will introduce you to some of them. Mariame Kaba is a longtime organizer around issues of prisons, policing and criminalization. She is the founder and director of Project NIA, which has as its goal the ending of youth incarceration.
By LeeAnn Hall for Other Words – Eli Lilly wasn’t Price’s only investment. In March of last year, he also bought stock in Pfizer and health insurer Aetna. The value of all three corporations rose soon after his stock purchase. He didn’t stop there. In August, Price put down between $50,000 and $100,000 to buy shares in Innate Immunotherapeutics, which makes a multiple sclerosis drug. He also bought stock in Zimmer Biomet Holdings — one week before introducing a bill designed to blunt a regulation that would have hurt the company’s profits, according to CNN. Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer called for that transaction to be investigated as a violation of a law against insider trading.
By Marcia Angell for US Today – Even before the election of Donald Trump, Obamacare was in trouble. Premiums on the government exchanges for individual policies are projected to increase an average of 11% next year, nearly four times the increase for employer-based family policies. And some large insurers are pulling out of that market altogether in parts of the country. Those who buy insurance on the exchanges often find that even with subsidies, they can’t afford to use the insurance because of mounting deductibles (about $6,000 for individual Bronze plans). It has become clear that health insurance is not the same as health care.
By Stephen Bartlett for Other Worlds. Many people will never hear about how at the end of 2016 on December 19, 38 medical professionals from Cuba’s Henry Reeve Brigade returned home after more than two tireless months of treating Haitians. They were sent to lend support to Cuba’s permanent medical teams in Haiti in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. Following the death of 90-year-old revolutionary Fidel Castro on November 25, 2016 corporate media has been fixated on depicting Fidel as the mastermind of a two-dimensional “dictatorial regime.” For those with a three-dimensional perspective, however, Fidel Castro’s death provides an opportunity to celebrate victories from the 56 years of the Cuban Revolution for which many people around the world are profoundly grateful and even owe their lives.
By Jesse Cross-Call for Center on Budget and Policy Priorities – Congressional Republicans indicate they will repeal key sections of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) early next year, including its Medicaid expansion. Repealing the Medicaid expansion would eliminate health coverage for up to, and quite possibly more than, 11 million low-income Americans in the 31 states (plus the District of Columbia) that have taken up this option. It would also cut off the possibility of gaining coverage for the 4 million uninsured people in the remaining 19 states who would become Medicaid-eligible if their state expanded.
By Michael Corcoran for FAIR – Members of the GOP leadership were likely jubilant when they read the New York Times (12/15/16) and saw the following headline: “GOP Plans to Repeal Health Law with ‘Universal Access.’” The Times’ decision to include the words “universal,” “health” and “plan” in the headline was extremely misleading and irresponsible. It gave readers the distinct—and deceptive—impression that Republicans have something resembling a “universal” health plan, and will use it to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It appears that the same corporate media who misled us into the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (Extra!, 4/10) are now misleading us out of it—and the Times’reporting on the GOP’s health care agenda is a particularly egregious example of this.
By Nicholas Conley for Medium – In the United States, healthcare has been one of the biggest political battles of the decade. As a healthcare worker myself, it’s an issue that strikes close to home. My years of experience caring for people with dementia, traumatic brain injuries, tetraplegia, cancer, and more has given me a firsthand look into what our healthcare system is like at the ground level, and it’s a different world from the vague concepts that politicians volley back and forth at each other. Healthcare shouldn’t be a messy political fight to begin with: it’s an issue of basic human rights. And what all too often gets lost in these scuffles are the people most in need.
By Dr. Andy Coates for All Unions Committee for Single Payer Health Care – HR 676. Albany, NY – Just north of where the Mohawk River joins the Hudson, in upstate New York, the highly skilled members of IUE/CWA Local 81359, have been on strike since the beginning of November. A chemical plant, once owned by General Electric, today Momentive Performance Materials, would like to drive workers back to a minimum wage with no benefits. The IUE/CWA local endured setbacks in two recent contracts and this time has said NO MORE. One important issue is the right to retire at age 60–with health benefits. The company wants to eliminate retiree health benefits altogether. This would make retirement unaffordable. The workers at the plant live with a high risk of illness due to occupational exposure to dangerous chemicals.
By John Stauber for Counter Punch – My friend and former colleague Wendell Potter, the CIGNA insurance public relations chief who saw the evil of his ways and left his job, is starting a new non-profit journalism enterprise called Tarbell. The investigative story I want to see from Wendell is one I am sure he will never tell: an insider exposé of the ugly rise and fall of Obamacare. This is a story Wendell knows inside and out, but I doubt he will ever really come to grips with its truth: Obamacare was a pro-industry Democrat scam that destroyed an opportunity for single payer education and reform and ultimately brought devastating political ruin to the Democrats themselves.
By Telesur. A delegation of doctors trained at the Latin American School of Medicine in Cuba announced they will head to Standing Rock to “serve in solidarity.” In a late Thursday Facebook post, a group of U.S.-based medical professionals trained at Cuba’s famous Latin American School of Medicine, or ELAM, announced they will head to Standing Rock “to humbly serve in solidarity with the Sacred Water Protectors on the front lines of the current human rights and ecological crisis occurring right now in North Dakota.” Dr. Revery P. Barnes, a graduate of ELAM, said in a post on Facebook, “We answer the call to serve in alignment with the mission and core principles of our alma mater and dedication to our commitment to serve underserved communities in our HOME country.” The delegation will work in collaboration with the Standing Rock Medic and Healer Council.
By Russell Mokhiber of Single Payer Action. Lori Kearns is the health policy advisor to Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont). She’s been making the rounds in recent weeks telling single payer supporters that Senator Sanders will not introduce his single payer bill into the Senate next year. Why not? Because party unity is more important than single payer. Sanders apparently believes that single payer will get in the way of electing a Democratic Senate in 2018. Wouldn’t want to confront Democratic Senate candidates with the deaths of their constituents due to Obamacare, would you? One reason why Sanders soared during the primary was his constant refrain that we need to cover every American with a single payer health care system. This resonated with the American people…
By Ben Lilliston for the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. The power of the so-called fly over states in the election is impossible to ignore. The electoral maps tell the story. A swath of red, often mostly rural, states in the middle and south of the country, bookended by blue states on the coasts. Even within the few Midwest blue states like Minnesota and Illinois, you can see the stark divide between how urban and rural counties saw the candidates. A look back at the 2012 electoral map tells us this divide is not new, but perhaps wasn’t taken seriously by many Democrats because President Obama won. As the Daily Yonder reports, the long-standing urban-rural voting gap is widening. At least part of this voting gap can be attributed to the Democratic Party’s loss of credibility on a number of core issues that affect the lives of rural communities in those so-called fly over states.