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Medicare

Machinists’ Retirees 751 Resolve To End ACO REACH

On June 13th the International Association of Machinists IAM 751 Retirement Club voted overwhelmingly to end the privatization of Medicare and to send their resolution to their congressional delegation, to President Biden, and to Secretary Xavier Becerra at Health and Human Services. Machinists’ District 751 represents 27,000 members who work at Boeing and some smaller shops across the state of Washington.  It is one of the largest organizations within the IAM. The privatization scheme the 751 Retirement Club opposes is ACO REACH, formerly called direct contracting entities (DCE).  It is a pilot program in which seniors who chose traditional Medicare are placed, without their consent, into plans that are run by insurance companies, private equity, and venture capitalists who can take as high as 40% in overhead and profit from the Medicare program.

Biden Hikes Medicare Prices, Funnels Profits To Insurers

Last week, the Biden administration quietly reaffirmed its decision to enact the highest Medicare premium hikes in history right before this year’s midterm elections. At the same time, President Joe Biden is endorsing a plan to funnel significantly more Medicare money to insurance companies and further privatize the government insurance program for older Americans and those with disabilities. In effect, the higher premium increases will subsidize the larger payments to — and profits for — private insurance corporations. This comes after Biden raked in roughly $47 million from health care industry executives during his 2020 campaign. The Biden administration announced on May 27 that due to “legal and operational hurdles,” Medicare recipients won’t see their premiums lowered this year, even though that rate was originally hiked last November in large part due to the projected costs of paying for a controversial Alzheimer’s drug that Medicare now says it generally will not cover. The Biden administration announced on May 27 that due to “legal and operational hurdles,” Medicare recipients won’t see their premiums lowered this year, even though that rate was originally hiked last November in large part due to the projected costs of paying for a controversial Alzheimer’s drug that Medicare now says it generally will not cover.

Physicians Slam Industry Push To ‘Fix’—Not End—Medicare Privatization

Physicians and progressive advocates on Tuesday urged the Department of Health and Human Services to reject an industry appeal to tweak and rebrand—not end altogether—a Medicare privatization scheme known as Direct Contracting, which the Trump administration launched in 2020. Members of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), which represents 24,000 doctors and other health professionals, has been working for months to bring lawmakers' attention to the DC program and pressure the Biden administration to terminate it while it's still in an experimental phase. As a result of PNHP's efforts, dozens of Democrats—including Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)—have spoken out against the DC pilot, opposition that appears to have caught the notice of healthcare industry groups that stand to benefit from the program.

California Healthcare Bill Fails

Another effort to change the healthcare system in a U.S. state is dead in the water. This time, last week, lawmakers in California declined to vote on a measure whose proponents say would lead to a single-payer system in the state. Monday’s nonvote in California provides yet another instance in which a state cannot move forward with a proposal for single payer. But while supporters may argue that there just needs to be more political will, in reality, it is not impossible to achieve a true single-payer healthcare system on a state level. On a larger scale, the recent results in California show the futility of the current reformist strategy to win universal healthcare in the U.S. State-backed efforts for healthcare reform like those in California — or the push to pass the New York Health Act — have been touted by many on the Left as a path to winning universal healthcare on a national level, but they are actually counterproductive.

Elizabeth Fowler Defending Trump Program To Privatize Medicare

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. 

The Capitalist Death-Drive, Afghan Sanctions, Attack On Medicare

Lee Camp looks at how the capitalist system sits at the heart of the worst problems facing society. In this history lesson, Camp takes you back to the feudal system, to the creation of corporations and currency, to the modern system that’s destroying the lives of the poor today. The ruling class don’t even try to hide the inhumanity that keeps the system running anymore, now that it has become almost impossible to ignore. This leaves it up to popular movements to end the capitalist system and create something new. Then, Camp reports on the police brutality victims who don’t gain as much attention as those murdered by cops, and Marilyn Manson’s #MeToo allegations. Afghanistan’s economy is suffering under US sanctions after the 20-year war on the Afghan people.

Pressure Grows On Biden To Shut Down Medicare Privatization Scheme

Calls are mounting for President Joe Biden to terminate an under-the-radar Trump-era pilot program that—if allowed to run its course—could result in the complete privatization of traditional Medicare by the end of the decade. A petition recently launched by Physicians for a National Program (PNHP) has garnered more than 10,000 signatures as doctors and other advocates work to raise public awareness of the Medicare Direct Contracting program, which the Trump administration rolled out during its final months in power.

New Program Is Secretly Privatizing Medicare

A new program is placing Medicare recipients into private health insurance plans without their knowledge or consent in a final effort to fully privatize our national Medicare system. Known as "Direct Contract Entities (DCEs)," this program is putting more of our healthcare system into the hands of private equity to generate enormous profits at the expense of our health. Clearing the FOG speaks about this with Kay Tillow, a long time health care, civil rights and union activist. Tillow explains what these entities are, why they threaten the future of our entire healthcare system and how they block our ability to achieve a national, universal and publicly-financed healthcare system such as national improved Medicare for All. She describes the fight to stop DCEs and win single payer health care.

The Creeping Privatization Of Medicare

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.

Democrats’ Toothless Drug Pricing Alternative Is A Coup For Big Pharma

Under the Build Back Better Act, Congress can expand and strengthen Medicare and Medicaid, improving the lives of millions of seniors while also throwing a lifeline to folks living in states where GOP politicians are strangling public benefits. But to win these popular reforms, we have to defeat the efforts of Big Pharma, their greedy lobbyists and the politicians who take their money. It wasn’t enough for Democratic Representatives Kurt Schrader of Oregon, Scott Peters of California, Kathleen Rice of New York and Stephanie Murphy of Florida to vote against a robust bill that would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3).

Happy Birthday, Medicare

2021 is also a very special year in the history of single-payer health insurance and public health in the U.S. because Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) introduced the modern Medicare for All Act of 2021 (H.R. 1976) in Congress. M4A 2021 is new legislation establishing a cutting edge single-payer national health program in the United States that addresses decades of health/mental health-related injustices that have been made even more painfully apparent by the Covid-19 pandemic.

New York City: Closed Door Negotiations Could Privatize Workers’ Medicare

A hush-hush operation between New York City and the Municipal Labor Council (MLC) to essentially privatize the health care coverage for thousands of retirees has exploded into public view in the past several weeks. The internet has been buzzing with protests against the closed-door negotiations that would take retirees out of traditional Medicare and place them in a Medicare Advantage program run by private insurers, with all its traps and pitfalls. The MLC is composed of the leadership of about 100 unions with members employed by the city. The city continues to pay for part of their health care coverage, under union negotiated contracts, after they retire. “What they’re doing is using public money to subsidize a private operation,” said Norm Scott, who was an elementary school teacher in Brooklyn for 35 years.

New Report: Private Health Insurers Overpay Hospitals

Prices paid to hospitals nationally during 2018 by privately insured patients averaged 247% of what Medicare would have paid, with wide variation in prices among states, according to a new RAND Corporation study. Some states (Arkansas, Michigan, and Rhode Island) had relative prices under 200% of Medicare, while other states (Florida, Tennessee, Alaska, West Virginia, and South Carolina) had relative prices that were above 325% of Medicare. The study notes a steady increase in hospital prices, rising to the 2018 average level from an average of 224% of Medicare costs in 2016 and 230% of Medicare costs in 2017.

Trump’s Executive Orders Are Public Relations Stunts

Trump, Meadows, Mnuchin and McConnell cleverly set up and sucked in Pelosi and Shumer into negotiations last week, never planning to conclude a deal by Friday, in the process getting them to reveal their priority demands and securing from them major concessions worth $1 trillion—for which the Democrat leaders apparently got nothing in return. A day later, Trump dropped the hammer and issued his EOs, which are designed more as PR for his election campaign. They certainly won’t provide anything remotely necessary as fiscal stimulus to confront the US economy’s emerging fading rebound in recent weeks. Upon close inspection the EOs are therefore mostly smoke and mirrors, designed to produce useful electoral soundbites for his campaign between now and November. The EOs are more PR for public relations purposes, while also serving as FUs (F*** You) to the Democrats.

On Medicare And Medicaid’s 55th Birthday, Let’s Expand Benefits

On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare and Medicaid into law. This crowning achievement was both the culmination of a decades-long effort to attain guaranteed universal health insurance and the first step in the quest for Medicare for All. In the 55 years since the legislation was signed into law, both programs have proven their worth. Before Medicare, about half of seniors lacked health insurance. They were an illness away from bankruptcy. Today, 99.1 percent of Americans 65 and older are insured, thanks to Medicare.
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