Some advocates of a publicly funded universal health care system have predicted that its creation is inevitable because of the "death spiral" of insurance costs. This term refers to the fact that as costs of insurance rise, fewer people can afford it, leading to a new round of rising premiums and out-of-pocket costs. If this cycle were allowed to continue indefinitely, it would be only a matter of time before the medical insurance industry priced its product out of existence. In a rational world, this simple fact would lead Congress to do what every other industrialized nation has done; create a publicly funded system of universal health care either through a government-run system such as Medicare for All, or through a tightly regulated system of non-profit insurers that offer a defined benefit package specified by the government, as in Germany.
Medicare for all
On July 30 activists marched and rallied in Washington, DC, calling for a more humane healthcare system. Physician and Left Voice member Mike Pappas spoke at the rally about how capitalism and health aren’t compatible. Below is the text from his speech. Hi, everyone. My name is Mike, and I’m a healthcare worker in New York City. I work at the nation’s first overdose-prevention center and at a psychedelic-medicine clinic. Before this, I worked in both a federally qualified health center and a hospital in New York. I’m also a member of Left Voice, a revolutionary socialist group with a publication that is part of an international network of news sites. To start out — and this should be no surprise to anyone — but just in case, I’m going to be really blunt and make things real clear: our healthcare system is a piece of shit that doesn’t remotely foster health or well-being.
July 30 will be the 57th anniversary of the passage of Medicare, widely celebrated as Medicare's birthday. People are taking action across the country this week in support of a National Improved Medicare for All single payer healthcare system culminating in a national march and rally in Washington, DC on Saturday (find info at M4M4All.org). Clearing the FOG speaks with Dr. Ana Malinow, a leader of the group National Single Payer, about the growing privatization and corporatization of the US healthcare system and how people are organizing to fight back and win a system in which everyone in the US will have the care they need without fear of financial ruin. She also discusses how American Exceptionalism is an obstacle to changing the system.
There is a need for a national group of grassroots activists advocating, mobilizing, and organizing exclusively for national single payer. In the early days of 2021, when it became clear no member of Congress would champion the cause of Medicare for All, a group of long-time health care activists, unionists, grassroots organizers, and progressives met to discuss the need for a national organization to unite activists across the country and rally the movement for national single payer health care free from corporate profits. The activists were frustrated. After all, the Democrats held power in the House, in the Senate, and in the Executive Branch, and yet, there was no enthusiasm for improved and expanded Medicare for All.
Washington, DC - The grassroots, volunteer led activist group March for Medicare for All returns to Washington D.C. on Medicare's birthday for their National Day of Action. March for Medicare for All demands national improve Medicare for All and rejects the privatization of healthcare in America. Last summer, March for Medicare for All launched in 56 different locations all the same day. This year, the primary focus will be on the nation's capital. On Saturday, July 30 at 10:30 am, marchers will meet at the southeastern corner of The Ellipse off of Constitution Ave., NW, between 15th St, NW and 17th St, NW. For those interested in attending the rally, people will start congregating at noon in Union Square off of 3rd St, SW between Madison Dr., NW and Jefferson Dr., SW. Speakers will be announced in the coming weeks.
Senator Bernie Sanders has announced that he is going to introduce his Medicare for All bill in the Senate—and hold a hearing. This is most welcome news. As Bernie campaigned for the presidency, he elevated national single payer health care, an improved Medicare for All, into the public spotlight and onto the nation’s agenda. His advocacy for Medicare for All informed millions and lifted spirits building hope that a universal single payer plan is possible in the US. He has not done that well at writing legislation. His most recent bill, the Medicare for All Act of 2019 (S. 1129), falls short of essential single payer principles and lets stand billions in profits that will undermine care and steal public funds.
We have long advocated for single-payer national health insurance. By eliminating private insurers and simplifying how providers are paid, single-payer would free up hundreds of billions of dollars now squandered annually on insurance-related bureaucracy. The savings would make it feasible to cover the uninsured and to eliminate the cost barriers that keep even insured patients from getting the care they need. And it would free patients and doctors from the narrow provider networks and other bureaucratic constraints imposed by insurance middlemen. We still urgently need this reform. However, the accelerating corporate transformation of US health care delivery complicates this vision. In the past, most doctors were self-employed, free-standing hospitals were the norm, and for-profit ownership of facilities was the exception.
On Friday starting at 6pm EST, experts will be breaking down the overcomplicated system we have now. Saturday’s stream kicks off at 12pm EST by exploring the shortcomings of healthcare in America. Sunday’s inspiring finale at 12pm EST will cover the path to a national single-payer system. Peppered throughout the panel discussions will be calls to action, exciting announcements, cameos from well-known Medicare For All supporters and live music from some of our friends.
In his State of the Union address tonight, 1 Mar 2022, Joe Biden stayed consistent with his campaign pledge to bury universal healthcare, throwing 30 million uninsured Americans under the bus along with at least 40 million under-insured. In tonight’s speech Biden used the simplest of expedients: silence. Amid all the easy applause lines, the leader of the world’s wealthiest nation whispered not a word about healthcare as a human right… …Nor a word about addressing America’s shameful performance contrasted with peer nations, a gap that is growing. Average life expectancy in comparable nations has now risen to 82 years. Here in the US, you’ll die 5 years younger, on average, at 77. And if you’re Black? Knock off another 5 years of precious life.
Every now and then, federal officials admit some truths that are inconvenient to the corporations that own the government — and this latest admission is pretty explicit: Scrapping corporate health care and creating a government-sponsored medical system would boost the economy, help workers, and increase longevity. Those are just some of the findings from the Republican-led Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in a new report that implicitly tells lawmakers just how the existing corporate-run health care system is immiserating millions of Americans — and how a Medicare for All-style system could quickly fix the catastrophe. If that sounds like hyperbole, consider the analysis in its own words.
In the early 1970s, Senator Ted Kennedy and Congresswoman Martha Griffiths introduced Medicare for All legislation in the Congress. It could have passed but for the efforts of a doctor from Minnesota by the name of Paul Elwood. Elwood believed that unless the Republicans did something to control health care costs, Medicare for All single payer would soon become the law of the land. So in February 1970, Elwood traveled to Washington, D.C. and met with officials in Richard Nixon’s administration to present his proposal for what he called health maintenance organizations (HMOs). The seeds for a managed care theology that would upend the American health care over the next fifty years were planted.
Louisville, KY - On Saturday, December 11 at 11:00 a.m. EST, Kentuckians for Single Payer Health Care and others will gather outside the headquarters of Humana, 500 W. Main St., Louisville, KY 40202 where they will demand an end to Medicare Direct Contracting, a program that could fully privatize Traditional fee-for-service Medicare without a vote by Congress. The protest with feature Steven Katz in full costume as the Grinch with the reading and performance of "How the Grinch Stole Medicare," an original poem from National Single Payer. Jill Harmer and the Single Payer Singers, Stephen Bartlett and his band, and singer, songwriter John Gage will perform holiday and health care music.
In the face of massive support for Medicare for All and the failure of the U.S.’s for-profit health care system, the inevitable fall of the medical-industrial complex can be predicted, if not with precision, with certainty. Everyone is aware of the impending demise, none more so than those in charge of the for-profit health care system and their supporters in Congress, as evidenced by the frenetic activity at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to transfer the traditional Medicare program to the insurance industry as fast as humanly possible. Given this urgency, physicians representing Physicians for a National Health Program delivered a petition signed by 13,000 individuals, including 1,500 physicians, to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra this week demanding the end to the privatization of Medicare.
The coffin they carried was fake, but the "68000" painted on it, the number of deaths suffered in the U.S. this year because of lack of health care, is all too real. In a Day of the Dead protest, protesters gathered in a slight drizzle at San Francisco's Alta Plaza Park and marched to Speaker Nancy Pelosi's house, a few blocks away. The signs they carried declared health care to be a human right and demanded Medicare for All. One, carried by "Red Berets" was an American flag with the year other countries had instituted national health care written on the stripes. "WHAT ABOUT US???" was on the bottom line. One demonstrator wore a black mourning veil over her face. Many carried little heart shaped pins of a black rose, a Victorian symbol of tragic love, danger and death.
It is a mistake for activists to once again allow Democratic politicians corrupted by big money to determine the nature of the struggle for single-payer Healthcare. We must have a strong fight on the national level in order to win this. Otherwise, we are abandoning a struggle that has strong public support and giving Congress a free pass to do nothing.