How Big Medicine Can Ruin Medicare For All


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.

The Collapse Of Trumpcare And The Rise Of Single Payer

Kaytee Riek

By Adam Gaffney and Zackary D. Berger for The BMJ Opinion – Two major developments in September upended US healthcare politics. The month’s end saw the failure of a last-ditch blitz by Senate Republicans to dispatch the Affordable Care Act (ACA) via the Graham-Cassidy bill, a painful defeat for opponents of Obamacare, including President Trump. And on 13 September, Senator Bernie Sanders’ single-payer “Medicare-for-All” bill was released, galvanizing proponents of progressive healthcare reform. Among the notable aspects of Sanders’ bill was its co-sponsorship by 16 Senators (as opposed to zero for Sanders’ last bill), among whom were most of the potential Democratic 2020 presidential contenders. Rising support for single-payer in the Senate follows a similar shift in the House of Representatives, where a majority of Democratic lawmakers now support Representative John Conyers’ single-payer bill. The immediate impact of these single-payer bills—given that neither will pass in the current Congress—may seem modest. Yet in conjunction with the collapse of Republicans’ ACA repeal efforts, they could signal a new era in American healthcare politics.

Fool Me Twice: Trojan Horse Democrats Pile Into The House Of Single-Payer

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By Jim Kavanaugh for The Polemicist – It’s great that more than a third of Democratic senators have signed on to co-sponsor Bernie Sanders’s Medicare-for-All bill. It’s a potentially strong bill that’s been welcomed by single-payer activist organizations like Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) and National Nurses United (NNU), and it represents a victory for the tireless work of single-payer activists and the popular pressure they stoked. It is also, we must recognize, only possible because of Bernie’s insistent promotion of healthcare as a right, in a campaign that widened the field of American political discourse. Above all, it is a result of continuing disgust with American for-profit health insurance system. It marks the exasperation with Obamacare’s half-assed attempt to patch up that system, and the rejection of the even crueler Republican schemes. At the very least, this bill puts single-payer “on the table” of legislative action and public discussion. The “public discussion” part is perhaps the most important. People will now hear about single-payer, and its advocates will not be completely shut out of media coverage from Fox to PBS, as they are now. Even the Democratic Party will have to talk about it. But please, please, do not be fooled. It does not mean that most, or any, of those co-sponsoring Democratic senators actually support single-payer. Most of those Democrats have signed on because they felt politically forced to, because they knew they could not face their constituents if they didn’t.

America’s Health Care System Kills People—But It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way

Illustration by Cathryn Virginia

By Gabby Bess for Broadly Vice – Linda Kimber is a 65-year-old retiree in Australia. When discussing how she was diagnosed with breast cancer last November, through a thick Australian accent, over the phone, Kimber is straightforward and direct. Frankly, she makes cancer sound like it’s not a big deal. At least one part of her treatment definitely wasn’t: She didn’t have to worry about the cost of the surgery, rounds of radiotherapy, and subsequent follow-ups. Unlike in the US, where the stress of financial panic often compounds a health emergency, Australia’s universal Medicare system, which provides free health insurance for every citizen through a general tax and an additional levy on high-income earners, covered the bill. Kimber says the care she received was stress-free as well. After she was diagnosed, she was given a list of doctors to choose from for her surgery, and it was scheduled for three weeks later at a public hospital. “Then they just told me a day for the operation and I came in on that day,” she said. “That was basically it. From there, it was all in their hands. I’ve had radiotherapy. I saw a medical oncologist, and the follow-up has been absolutely fantastic. They bent over backwards.”

A Businessman Makes The Case For A Single-Payer Health Care System

(Image: Health care via Shutterstock)

By Richard Master for PNHP – With all due respect to President Trump, he is wrong about the single-payer model of health insurance. Single payer — centralized public financing of a continued privately operated health system — will not “bankrupt the United States.” In fact, the opposite is true. Single payer is the only internationally proven strategy to transition the U.S. out of its current crisis of runaway health care costs to economic sustainability, where overall system cost growth is consistent with overall economic growth and inflation. At one-sixth of our economy and over 25 percent of the federal budget, health care will continue to be a focus in Congress until real progress is made and the angst of the American people about the system is resolved. It is clear to most Americans that runaway health care costs translate into flat wages and also a deterioration of real disposable income that drags down our 70 percent consumer-driven economy. But recent efforts in Congress to confront the crisis have been misguided. Congress has focused on cost shifting — moving the burden of our health system away from the federal government to the states and also to employers and to working families across the country, who will pay higher private insurance premiums to cover the expected cost of increased uncompensated care as the system absorbs the loss of Medicaid funds.

The Practical Libertarian’s Case For Single Payer Healthcare

(Image: Health care costs via Shutterstock)

By Camilo Gomez for Counter Punch – This year, there have been serious discussions about healthcare policy in America. The Republicans’ attempt to repeal Obamacare generated much backlash. The images of disability activists protesting in Congress circulated the world. For many foreigners, it’s a surprise that the richest country in the world doesn’t have any form of universal healthcare. In fact, many of the activists’ goals were not to preserve Obamacare, but support Medicare for all––or single payer. In America, organizations like Physicians for a National Health Programsupport single payer–a tax-funded healthcare system administered by the state that covers health care for all residents. It is logical that this policy is backed mostly by progressives, on the basis of their belief that healthcare is a human right. Not all Democratic politicians support single payer, but the support for it among the Democratic base is putting those who oppose it in a difficult position. Republicans in office are opposed to single payer, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t conservatives arguing for it, too. About 40 percent of Trump supporters back single payer and is worth acknowledging that some Republicans attitudes on the issue are shifting.

The Battles Ahead: Meet The Biggest Opponents Of Single-Payer

Health care activists gather outside Trump Tower to "declare healthcare a human right," January 13, 2017, in New York City. (Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

By Michael Corcoran for Truthout – It has become fashionable to write premature obituaries of the Senate bill to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, using hyperbolic and misleading language. The Senate bill, according to varying headlines, is “in peril,” on “life support” and “dead on arrival.” These stories should be of little comfort given that the exact same headlines were published prior to the House passing its version of the repeal. That bill was also reportedly “on the verge of collapse,” “in tatters,” “flailing” and even “dead.” Such sentiment could give Americans a false sense of complacency. There is still a real danger that this contemptible bill, which according to the Congressional Budget Office would lead to 22 million Americans becoming uninsured, will still become law. Considering this, stopping this legislation — which repeals Medicaid as much as it does the ACA — should remain the top short-term priority for advocates of health care justice. But the fight to stop Trumpcare must also be part of a wider struggle for health care justice. The threat of this shameful legislation alone has demonstrated that it is morally indefensible to leave anyone without coverage. As a result, the argument for single-payer health care is starting to make sense to a lot of people…

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.”

Survey: Physician Attitudes Shift To Single Payer

Single payer protest in NYC by Occupy

By Staff of CMS – The AHCA, which would roll back the Medicaid expansion in 31 states, including Illinois, earned positive views from just 23.4 percent of physicians who said they were “generally favorable” about the legislation. Rather, physicians voice support for single payer and and also support the Affordable Care Act (ACA)with some fixes. In the Chicago Medical Society survey, the ACA received a “generally favorable” view from 62.7% of Chicago area physicians and even more, or 66.8% have a “generally favorable” view of a single-payer financing health care system. Given a choice between single payer, an improved ACA and the AHCA, Chicago physicians favored a single payer approach by 2 to 1 over the ACA and by 3 to 1 over the AHCA. Chicago area physicians’ more positive views of single-payer financing comes as attitudes shift on the issue. Just last week, the California Senate approved a “Medicare for all-type/single payer bill.”

Single Payer Not Top Priority Even For Democrats

Single payer protest in NYC by Occupy

By Staff of SIngle Payer Action – “Congressional Democrats and the national Democratic Party don’t actually want to pass Medicare for All because that would be the end of the steady flow of campaign money the party receives from the for-profit health care industries,” Kirkwood says. “This money powers the careers of Party insiders and the political campaigns of their candidates. But, Democratic elected officials need to publicly appear to support HR 676 because it is extremely popular among Democratic voters. Democrats privately tell reformers that they support Medicare for All and, if anyone asks, they say – yes they have co-sponsored HR 676. But, when push comes to shove, they will not vote to pass HR 676 in the Congress. And they have little fear that push ever will come to shove because party leadership will not allow such a vote – as they did not in 2009.” In an open letter to single payer activists, Kirkwood calls for a campaign to recruit and run single payer doctors for Congress. “We should try to recruit physicians or retired physicians to run in both parties and in multiple Congressional districts,” Kirkwood writes. “Asking physicians to stand for election produces several benefits.”

Voters Are Fired Up For Single Payer Creating Dilemma For Democrats

Voters are Fired Up for Single Payer Creating Dilemma for Democrats

By Margaret Flowers for Health Over Profit – On Sunday, June 4, the same day that Our Revolution, a Democratic Party group that arose from the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, organized rallies and die-ins to highlight the number of people dying in the United States due to lack of access to health care, the New York Times published an article, “The Single Payer Party? Democrats Shift Left on Health Care“, prominently on the front page and above the fold. The article quotes RoseAnn DeMoro, head of National Nurses United, saying, “There is a cultural shift. Health care is now seen as something everyone deserves. It’s like a national light went off.” Minnesota Congressman Rick Nolan was also quoted, saying that rank and file Democrats “are energized in a way I have not witnessed in a long, long time.” Nolan is correct in stating that following the Democrat’s large loss in 2016, the party needs “a more boldly ‘aspirational’ health care platform.” Democratic Party voters have been strong supporters of single payer health care for a long time. Polls have consistently shown that super-majorities of Democratic Party voters want single payer, but Democratic Party candidates keep telling them that they can’t have it.

Why Fight For Single-Payer Is More Important Than Ever

Adam Gaffney is a physician and an instructor at Harvard Medical School. (Physicians for a National Health Program)

By Sarah Jaffe for In These Times – Just from the big picture perspective, what are some of the things it is doing? Well, on the one hand, it is cutting programs. There is a major cut in Medicaid. Over 10 years, we are talking about greater than $800 billion dollars in Medicaid cuts. That is about a quarter of federal spending. That is going to throw millions of people off of Medicaid. As you know, Medicaid is a program for lower income people that covers a lot of Americans. More than 70 million. That is one thing. The second thing is it is going to weaken the subsidies that people use to buy health plans on the marketplaces, the so-called “Obamacare” plans. Those are still going to be around—the private insurance industry will still be subsidized—but those subsidies are going to be worse, they are going to be more regressive, and they are going to be less adequate for many folks. That is one side of the ledger. On the other side of the ledger there’s just a huge redistribution of wealth upwards. Essentially, it gets rid of a variety of taxes that the Affordable Care Act put in place, and that is almost entirely going to benefit the very wealthy.

Single Payer Congressional Progressive Caucus And The Cuban Revolution

Single payer protest in NYC by Occupy

By Staff of Single Payer Action – And the only Senate member of the Progressive Caucus — Bernie Sanders — is dragging his feet on introducing a companion single payer bill in the Senate. Recalcitrant Democrats say they are too busy defending Obamneycare to get behind single payer. Typical is Progressive Caucus member Don Beyer who said that while he has voiced support for single payer in the past, his immediate priority is “protecting the health care achievements of President Obama.” There is a history here, of course. Back in 2009, a young single payer activist, Nick Skala, ran into the same kind of stonewall from the Progressive Caucus, when he presented the case for single payer.

“Ryancare” Dead On Arrival: Can We Please Now Try Single Payer?

Single payer protest in NYC by Occupy

By Ellen Brown for Web of Debt – The secret to the success of these more efficient systems is that they control medical costs. According to T. R. Reid in The Healing of America, they follow one of three models: the “Bismarck model” established in Germany, in which health providers and insurers are private but insurers are not allowed to make a profit; the “Beveridge model” adopted in Britain, where most healthcare providers work as government employees and the government acts as the single payer for all health services; and the Canadian model, a single-payer system in which the healthcare providers are mostly private.

Six Ways Ryancare Makes Healthcare Worse

Single payer protest in NYC by Occupy

By Staff of Labor Campaign for Single Payer – The Affordable Care Act never really solved the healthcare crisis. It treated healthcare as a commodity allocated through market forces rather than as a public good and failed to address the profiteering at the core of our healthcare system, forcing it to use a series of confusing and convoluted mechanisms to expand heath insurance coverage and regulate health insurance providers. The most unpopular of these provisions was the “individual mandate”–the requirement that everyone who wasn’t covered by a qualified employment-based plan or eligible for a public healthcare program had to purchase private health insurance coverages.