How Big Medicine Can Ruin Medicare For All

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By Phillip Longman for The Guardian – In 2013, Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described “democratic socialist,” couldn’t find a single co-sponsor for his healthcare plan, which would replace private insurance with Medicare-like coverage for all Americans regardless of age or income. Today, the roll call of supporters for his latest version includes the leading lights of the Democratic party, including many with plausible presidential aspirations. It’s enough to make an exasperated Dana Milbank publish a column in the Washington Post under the headline ‘The Democrats have become socialists’. But have they? Actually, no. Real socialized medicine might work brilliantly, as it has in some other countries. In the United Kingdom, the socialist government of Labour’s Clement Attlee nationalized the healthcare sector after the second world war, and today the British government still owns and operates most hospitals and directly employs most healthcare professionals. The UK’s National Health Service has it problems, but it produces much more health per dollar than America’s – largely because it doesn’t overpay specialists or waste money on therapies and technologies of dubious clinical value. Though they smoke and drink more, Britons live longer than Americans while paying 40% less per capita for healthcare.

CBO: House GOP Tax Plan Triggers $25 Billion In Medicare Cuts

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By Ethan Wolff-Mann for Yahoo Finance – If the House GOP tax plan passes, it is projected to cut revenue significantly, likely increasing the deficit by $1.456 trillion from 2018 to 2027, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation and Congressional Budget Office (CBO). With a number that large, Congress’s “pay as you go” rules that prevent unchecked spending would fall into place, a move that could cut Medicare’s budget by as much as $25 billion for 2018. In a letter to House minority whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the CBO explained that without any more money to offset the fall in revenue, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) would be required to issue a “sequestration order” to reduce spending in 2018 by $136 billion. The effects of this sequestration order would trigger automatic cuts to various programs, including Medicare. According to the CBO, this could be as much as 4% for Medicare, which amounts to $25 billion in 2018. Furthermore, all non-exempt programs would be eliminated, which include some farming subsidies, border security, and student loan help. Others, like Social Security, would remain untouched. At the same time, the tax plan’s changes to the estate and gift taxes would cut revenue $151 billion from 2018 to 2027, according to the JCT.

Current Taxes And Tax Reform Undermine Social Security & Medicare

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By Sam Pizzigati for Other Words – You probably pay about four times more of your income to Social Security than millionaires, who want to cut their taxes and your benefits. How much did your paychecks total last year? You know the answer, of course. So does the Social Security Administration. The totals for every American’s paycheck income are sitting in Social Security’s computers. Once every year, Social Security does a serious data dump out of those computers to let us know just how much working Americans are actually making. The latest totals — covering 2016 — have just appeared. Most of us, the new numbers show, are simply not making all that much. In fact, nearly half of our nation’s employed — 49.3 percent — earned less than $30,000 in 2016. A good many of these Americans lived in poverty. In 2016, families of four that earned less than $24,339 ranked as officially poor. We don’t have an “official” figure for middle class status. But the Economic Policy Institute has calculated the costs of maintaining a no-frills middle class existence in various parts of the United States. In Houston, one of our nation’s cheaper major cities, a family of four needed $62,544 in 2016 to live a bare-bones middle class lifestyle.

Does The Gig Economy Mean It’s Time For Medicare-For-All?

This file photo taken in January shows Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) taking the podium before speaking during a press conference discussing Republican attempts to dismantle Medicare, Medicaid, and The Affordable Care Act on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / ZACH GIBSONZACH GIBSON/AFP/Getty Images

By Charlie Simmons for The Mercury News – Silicon Valley is the engine of the rapidly growing gig-economy. Consumers love the convenience of having goods and services delivered right to their door at the push of a button. Many workers are enjoying the benefits of making their own hours and minimal corporate oversight. But there’s one big problem: many of these workers are classified as 1099 contractors, rather than employees. The 1099 system gives workers the flexibility to fully choose how and when they work, but it also demands very little from companies, who do not have to cover transportation costs, offer paid vacation, or contribute into 401(k) accounts. That’s the perfect system for Silicon Valley’s tech start-ups. Most of them are in aggressive growth stages and are trying to expand to new cities, recruit new workers and bring on new customers. This way, they only pay workers for the actual time they spend on their service. While debate about the merits of the gig-economy continues, it’s clear that it’s here to stay. If we are shifting to a system of self-employment, we need to rethink how we deliver crucial worker protections and services that our nation’s labor groups have fought for and won, including overtime protections, weekends, redress from unjust dismissal, and — most importantly — expanded and improved health insurance.

Senate Republicans Aren’t Just Aiming To Destroy Obamacare And Medicaid

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By Steven Rosenfeld for AlterNet – The Senate Republicans’ latest anti-Obamacare bill has bigger goals than destroying the Affordable Care Act and dismantling Medicaid. This bill aims to blow up the very foundation upon which a national health care system could be built—even if it roils private insurance markets via massive premium hikes for 2018. This overarching goal—to destroy the health care system’s structural underpinnings that could be used to create a national health care system—was made clear in the opening boasts of the Senate bill’s co-sponsor, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, when he introduced the bill on the same day Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, introduced a Medicare for All bill. “If you want a single-payer health care system, this is your worst nightmare,” Graham boasted on September 13, referring to his own bill. “Hell no to Berniecare!” If that wasn’t clear enough, Graham doubled down on Tuesday, when in an appearance with Vice President Mick Pence, Graham said, “federalism versus socialism, you pick.” Then on Wednesday, a Pence aide told reporters the vice president was leaving a U.N. Security Council meeting on peacekeeper reforms “to speak with leader McConnell on continuing momentum behind Graham-Cassidy.”

Insurance Industry Pays Senators To Not Support Improved Medicare For All

Supporters of the Medicare for All Act of 2017 hold signs at an event to introduce the bill in Washington, DC. Photo by Alex Wong / Getty Images.

By Andrew Perez for MapLight – Democratic senators who haven’t signed on to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” proposal have received twice as much cash from the insurance industry as the bill’s sponsors, MapLight has found. The insurance industry has donated an average of $23,600 since 2010 to senators who have co-sponsored Sanders’ bill, according to a MapLight review of campaign finance data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. Democratic senators who have not yet supported his legislation, including Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent, have received an average of $55,500 from the industry. The independent senator from Vermont has been pitching a government-run, single-payer health care system since 1993. But the idea became popular among progressive voters during his 2016 primary campaign against eventual Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and is picking up support. About one-thirdof American adults polled in June said they now support a single-payer health care system. Sanders, who formally proposed his “Medicare for All” plan on Wednesday, has picked up support from 16 of the Senate’s 46 Democrats. Supporters include potential 2020 presidential contenders, such as Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; Kamala Harris, D-Calif.; Cory Booker, D-N.J.; and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. A majority of House Democrats are backing a similar proposal introduced in January by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich.

Medicare’s Anniversary Reminds Us The Impossible Is Possible

Medicare-for-All may be closer than many persons think. (Photo: Molly Adams)

By Mark Karlin for Truth Out – Before the establishment of Medicare, many persons more than 65 years of age who weren’t wealthy dealt with a harrowing reality. When they became seriously ill or required a costly procedure, they possibly faced bankruptcy due to lack of health insurance or high deductibles and co-pays. Many also confronted having to go without health care because of costs, sometimes leading to a painful death because of the exorbitant price of medical care without insurance. In fact, the lack of a government health insurance program for the elderly led to seniors being among the poorest age groups in the nation. This past Sunday, Medicare celebrated its 52nd anniversary. National health care coverage in the United States for seniors had been an elusive goal until the program was launched in 1965. For years, efforts to pass Medicare were thwarted by charges that we still hear today against the Affordable Care Act and proposals for single-payer health care. Government health care insurance for the elderly was called “communist” medicine and accused of being “un-American.” Despite his ability to get Social Security enacted in 1935 and launch other government-administered New Deal programs, President Franklin Roosevelt was not able to overcome vigorous opposition to government health coverage for seniors…

Newsletter: Fight For Health Care Begins

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By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were stalled again this week, due in large part to public pressure including courageous and persistent civil resistance in Congress. This was another battle won to prevent millions more from losing health insurance and tax cuts for the rich, but the fight for a universal healthcare system is far from over. In fact, we have barely begun. 1hcsenDr. Carol Paris writes, “Today, we breathe a quick sigh of relief. But we cannot celebrate a return to the status quo, a system that rations health care based on income and allows 18,000 Americans to die each year unnecessarily.” Dr. Paris argues that rather than focusing on the ACA, we must now advance National Improved Medicare for All (NIMA) – a publicly-funded and comprehensive universal healthcare system in the United States. Imagine the impacts National Improved Medicare for All will have when it is achieved…

Civil Resistance Helped Kill Trumpcare – On To Medicare For All

A protester holds up a sign during a rally against the GOP health care plan, on Capitol Hill, July 26, 2017, in Washington, DC. (Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

By Michael Corcoran for Truthout – In a dramatic vote that took place between midnight and dawn on Friday, the bill was defeated 51-49, to the surprise of almost everyone who was still awake to see it. Less than an hour before the vote, Democrats and pundits had suggested that passage of the Health Care Freedom Act, the Senate’s bizarre “skinny repeal” approach to gutting health care access in the US, was almost inevitable. Three GOP defections, however, sealed its fate. Sen. John McCain, who recently was diagnosed with a brain tumor, became the final swing vote for the second time this week, joining Sen. Susan Collins and Sen. Lisa Murkowski in opposing the measure. Earlier this week, to the dismay of health care advocates everywhere, McCain had kept Trumpcare alive with his vote on a procedural motion to proceed with debate on the GOP legislation; this time his vote had the opposite effect. The Trumpcare efforts have often played out like a bad horror movie franchise where the bad guys just won’t die. Just when the main characters feel safe and walk away to pleasant music, an ominous monstrosity such as the Upton Amendment in the House or the “skinny repeal” plan in the Senate reaches into sight, startling the audience members and reminding them that the danger is still very real.

The Plot To Kill Care

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By Eleanor Goldfield for Occupy – Medicare turns 52 this Sunday as Republicans lament their slow going efforts to privatize a public service on behalf of the insurance industry and other healthcare profiteers. (This is also Medicaid’s birthday, healthcare for the poor, passed along with Medicare, healthcare for the elderly). That being said, Democrats have made a concerted effort to do the same, they just wrap their efforts in a more caring and affordable facade. As we stare down the possibility of millions more losing access to life saving medicines and treatment, the numbers show that neither the ACA nor the House’s AHCA or the senate’s BCRA will alleviate widespread suffering, deaths or economic hardships. Only one thing can solve the US health crisis: single payer, improved Medicare for All. So, as we come around to Medicare’s birthday, we can’t just watch Congress ready their machetes and slash away at care for the sake of profit. We need to join the fight for improved Medicare for All, once and for all – here’s how.

Trumpcare Is Dead. 'Single Payer Is The Only Real Answer'

AP.  President John F. Kennedy gestures during his speech before a rally on medical care for the aged at New York’s Madison Square Garden on May 20, 1962.

By Zaid Jilani for The Intercept – THANKS TO A PAIR of defections from more GOP senators late yesterday, the Republican plan to repeal and replace or simply repeal the Affordable Care Act is dead — for now. But the health care status quo is far from popular, with 57 percent of Americans telling Gallup pollsters in March that they “personally worry” a “great deal” about health care costs. Many health care activists are now pushing to adopt what is called a “single payer” health care system, where one public health insurance program would cover everyone. The U.S. currently has one federal program like that: Medicare. Expanding it polls very well. One of the activists pushing for such an expansion is Max Fine, someone who is intimately familiar with the program — because he helped create it. Fine is the last surviving member of President Kennedy’s Medicare Task Force, and he was also President Johnson’s designated debunker against the health insurance industry. Fine, now 91, wrote to The Intercept recently to explain that Medicare was never intended to cover only the elderly population, and that expanding it to everyone was a goal that its architects long campaigned for. “Three years after the enactment of Medicare, in Dec. 1968, a Committee of 100 leading Americans was formed to campaign for single payer National Heath Insurance.

Medicare Halts Release Of Much-Anticipated Data

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By Charles Ornstein for Pro Publica – The government had planned to share data with researchers on patients enrolled in Medicare Advantage health plans. Then, suddenly, it didn’t. In the past few years, many seniors and disabled people have eschewed traditional Medicare coverage to enroll in privately run health plans paid for by Medicare, which often come with lower out-of-pocket costs and some enhanced benefits. These so-called Medicare Advantage plans now enroll more than a third of the 58 million beneficiaries in the Medicare program, a share that grows by the month. But little is known about the care delivered to these people, from how many services they get to which doctors treat them to whether taxpayer money is being well-spent or misused. The government has collected data on patients’ diagnoses and the services they receive since 2012 and began using it last year to help calculate payments to private insurers, which run the Medicare Advantage plans. But it has never made that data public. Officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have been validating the accuracy of the data and, in recent months, were preparing to release it to researchers. Medicare already shares data on the 38 million patients in the traditional Medicare program, which the government runs.

Medicare For Everyone With A Pre-Existing Condition

Replace ACA with Medicare for All. Photo from FOX13 Salt Lake City

By Staff of Single Payer Action – Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) has no time for single payer. But Senator Lindsey Graham says yes to single payer for sick people. That’s what came out of a meeting with Senator Manchin with single payer activists earlier this month in Charleston, West Virginia. Also present during the meeting, via Skype, was University of Massachusetts Economics Professor Gerald Friedman. According to notes taken during the meeting by a participant, Manchin dismissed single payer in the the Senate, saying “my interest is in finding a workable pathway.” “Republicans are not going to back off of a private sector market,” Manchin said. “Mitch McConnell is determined to vote to repeal. But he wants to get rid of taxes to pay for what we want to do. To do that they’ve got to cut services. They’re not trying to look for efficiencies or work with preventative care.” “A few of us — Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham, and others — are looking for a better way. Lindsey Graham says — let’s put everyone with a pre-existing condition on Medicare.” “That’s a big leap forward,” Manchin said. “But I told him — we have to change the tax structure. We can’t accumulate more debt.” “There is not another Republican who supports what Lindsey has said,” Manchin said. “But people are listening. It gives us an opening we didn’t have before. I told Chuck Schumer to act like he doesn’t like it and wait and see what happens.”

The Washington Post Is Selling Snake Oil

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By Adam Gaffney for Jacobin Magazine – Our friends at the Washington Post are waging a brave campaign against Medicare for All. Over the weekend, the Washington Post editorial board took a bold stance: they argued that universal health care with single-payer financing is simply beyond reach. That the Post felt the need to issue the editorial at this particular moment is a testament to single payer’s rising fortunes. From coast to coast, activists are on the march: against the widely loathed, upward-wealth-redistributing, health-care-stripping abomination known as Trumpcare, for sure — but also for real universal health care. Yet the Post’s frail arguments should be confronted, because they repeat a number of common talking points that rest on flawed assumptions and that could do real harm. The Post editorial board begins by briefly conceding that single payer does have “some strong advantages.” It notes that single payer would be less of a hassle for many people (a good point), that it would get employers out of the messy role of providing health-care benefits (reasonable), and finally that it would facilitate cost-effectiveness research by government investigators (fine I suppose, although this is unlikely to galvanize the average person).

6 Lessons From The UK Election For National Improved Medicare For All

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By Brittany Shannahan for HCHRMD – This is the end of the center-left as we know it. In democracies across the world, we have seen a polarization of politics, with far-right populists and ethnonationalists sparring against a new wave of leftist political activism as the traditional center-left collapses under its own weight. The process has a name, Pasokification, after the Democrat-esque Greek center-left party that went from a major government player into a fringe institution overnight after an election in 2015. Had Labour replaced Jeremy Corbyn with a centrist, Theresa May and the Conservative party would have won by a landslide. We see a leftist coalition built on a visionary plan for a future for the many rather than for the few taking on a highly popular right-wing government and almost beating it entirely after only six weeks of campaigning. Some will bring up Macron in France as an example of a centrist, neoliberal political party holding its own against the far right. But we need to remember that Nazi sympathizers and collaborators founded the Front National. As Naomi Klein has said, the Front National is more David Duke than Donald Trump.