Medicare For All may finally be debated in Congress

Unlike 2009, when the Democrats conceded single payer health care before the debate even started, Medicare For All could finally gets its day in the sun.
Because the Democratic leadership wants it to be seriously considered? No. Of course not.

Several likely 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are pushing plans for something short of universal health care, a move already creating friction within the party's empowered left wing, which has panned any attempt to water down the progressive dream of a single-payer system.

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So if the fix is in, and the Democratic leadership has ruled it out, why would Medicare For All finally get seriously debated in the House?
The ironic answer is: the Republicans want to.

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Republicans are pushing leaders of a key House committee to hold a hearing on Medicare for all, but the Democrats aren't taking the bait.
Oregon Rep. Greg Walden, ranking member of the Energy & Commerce Committee, and Texas Rep. Michael Burgess, the lead Republican on the health subcommittee, pressed in a letter this week and at a hearing Wednesday to publicly explore the proposal to create a national, government-run health insurance program.

The same guys who just got crushed in the last election, in large part because of their unpopular stands on health care, think that they have a winning issue.
Remember the last time the GOP thought they had a winner to run on?

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Exactly how big is the Washington bubble?
Establishment Democrats seem determined to keep Republicans from making this mistake.

The push got a chilly reception from committee Chair Frank Pallone of New Jersey and subcommittee Chair Anna Eshoo of California.
"Who are you kidding?" Pallone said. "Oh sure, we're going to have a hearing on something that you think will destroy the country."
"Now don't get me wrong, we will address that issue. I'm not suggesting we shouldn't," he continued.
Eshoo took a similar position, deflecting questions about when Congress would begin exploring using Medicare as a vehicle for expanding health coverage.
"I hope at some point we will," she told reporters, before saying that Democrats ran on lowering drug prices and strengthening the Affordable Care Act, which will take time.

It's yet another instance of Republicans asking the right questions, while moderate Democrats try to silence debate.

“We’re going to pull the curtain back on Medicare for All so the American people can actually assess it,” added Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on House Ways and Means.
The progressives backing the bill say, "Bring it on." They are convinced the Republicans are miscalculating, much as they did with their doomed attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Personally, I would like to ask three questions for MFA skeptics:

1) For those who say we can't afford it, what peer-reviewed study are you basing your opinion on?
The CBO has never scored MFA, so you have no solid facts behind your opinion.

2) Every other industrialized nation on Earth, plus dozens of developing nations, can provide government-sponsored universal health care. Why do you think Americans are too incompetent, too stupid, and too incapable to do the same? Why do you have so little faith in America?

3) Tens of thousands of Americans die every year because of a lack of health insurance. Thousands of Americans flee to Mexico for their health care every single day. Why is this not a crisis to you? Why do you think a modest tweak is all the current system needs? What evidence do you have to cause you to think the free market has a solution?

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from the link above:

Dental work in Mexico is on average two-thirds less than in the US and customers may save 80 percent or more on some costly operations. Those savings derive partially from Mexico’s less expensive real estate and labor costs, but also, Mexico’s dentists don’t graduate with a ton of student debt.

The government provides basically tuition-free education. “When we get out of school, we have to pay the government, but we do it by one year of free service, and that’s it,” Miguel Ibarreche of the Sani Dental Group, one of Mexico’s largest dental clinic companies, told NPR.

If you casually compare the magnitude of border crossings, the crisis of the US’s for-profit healthcare system becomes apparent. According to US Customs and Border Protection, border crossings of Mexican and Central American refugees — the border crossings Trump and Fox News rage about 24/7 — ranged from 20,000 to roughly 60,000 people per month in 2018. In Los Algodones alone, nearly five times as many American dental refugees are going the opposite way. To get an idea of the absurdity, one could argue there are more people currently fleeing the US’s health care system than refugees seeking asylum from extreme violence and state terror in Central America.

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That should be "care" and not "insurance". There's plenty of useless insurance around, or insurance that is too expensive to use, or insurance where the company denies coverage, etc etc.

What people need is health CARE. They also don't need "access" because practically speaking if you are given a chance to purchase health care at a price you can't afford you've had access, you just weren't able to do anything with it.

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CS in AZ's picture

@MichaelSF

What is needed is healthcare for all, and that must include comprehensive dental care as well as vision and eyecare services. Which, I’ve been told, are not covered under Medicare.

Medicare also has premiums to pay, and requires the purchase of add-on supplemental plans, with more premiums, to address the gaps that Medicare doesn’t include. I’m personally not jazzed about Medicare. Obviously it’s better than nothing, but it’s not universal comprehensive healthcare for everyone, funded by the government.

I have some questions too.

1) Why are we settling for Medicare, instead of demanding what is actually needed, real universal healthcare?

2) Why are we conflating the two when this topic is discussed, blurring and erasing the distinction?

3) Why is it a good idea for democrats to “run on” an issue that they have no intention to implement? Isn’t winning on a lie and then doing nothing a bad strategy in the longer term? Let’s say democrats keep the house, and win the senate and the presidency, by saying they support Medicare for all. Won’t voters notice when the democrats then fail to deliver anything?

As to answering the questions posed in the essay.

1) If your argument is that the CBO hasn’t scored it, then any opinion, yay or nay, is just an opinion and not based on facts.

I think a better question would be, if we can afford hundreds of trillions of dollars on endless wars, why can’t we scale that back just a tiny bit and use some of that money to save American lives here at home? Does it make sense to spend that much on wars to “keep us safe” while so many are dying from lack of healthcare and healthy food and decent shelter here in America?

I’ve used this one in discussions with people who identify as conservatives and are not comfortable with the idea of “government healthcare” and almost always this line of inquiry leads to them agreeing with free healthcare, and much more.

It’s pretty easy to defuse the “we can’t afford it” line with a reminder that our government currently spends unbelievably vast amounts of money on unnecessary wars.

Much more difficult to overcome however, is the strong belief in a meritocracy; if you actually talk to people about the issue, you’ll soon encounter deeply embedded beliefs that people get what they deserve and if others don’t have enough money, it’s their fault and “it sucks being them.”

It amazes me, how people who themselves don’t have enough money to weather a real health crisis, but haven’t yet personally experienced that reality, hold this easily-provoked contempt for people who are in that situation.

They quickly get very riled up when presented with opposition messages about how “those people” (use whatever stereotypes work: immigrants, welfare queens, etc) would be getting some kind of free ride. Suddenly it’s no! I don’t want my tax dollars to help those people... even if we can afford it. They don’t deserve help.

Blink.

I’ve had this debate/discussion with many real life individuals and small groups. This is why I’m certain that the polls on it mean basically nothing. Minds can readily change one way when respectful discussion leads them that way, and they also quickly change to another direction when presented with opposing arguments, revealing the real problem they have with it.

So I don’t believe there’s really a strong enough appetite out there to hold the line for true universal healthcare. And getting to that point is going to take more than a couple of snarky and condescending questions, or political tap dancing by dishonest democrats.

I thought Bernie Sanders had a real opportunity in 2015/16 to make the argument about the vast amount of money spent on killing people around the world, while utterly neglecting to keep us “safe” at home, as we are dying from lack of comprehensive universal healthcare. And go big: universal healthcare is paid for the same way the wars are paid for, and it includes everything including your teeth, gums, and eyes.

Medicare for all is already a setback from that.

One last thing, which is almost entirely overlooked as a key part of health — we are being fed mass poison by the industrialized food industry in this country. It’s the secret hiding in plain sight, and it’s a big part of why we have so many escalating health problems.

No politicians in this country are doing anything serious about this issue. The whole charade makes me angry.

/rant

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@CS in AZ
N/T

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Ya got to be a Spirit, cain't be no Ghost. . .

Unabashed Liberal's picture

@CS in AZ

to your very welcome rant (a little bit later, after I run an errand).

None of the chicanery with HR 646 (thanks, DK) really surprises me. The very reason that there are 8 plus so-called MFA proposals/buy-in proposals is to confuse the issue. Apparently, it worked, duping the Dem Party Base (per midterm election results). How on earth the Dem Establishment pulled it off--after recruiting, nominating, and ultimately getting elected the most extremely conservative Dem candidates in my lifetime. It all beats the h*ll out of me!

Wink

Later . . .

Blue Onyx

"Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust.

They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made."

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Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.

Shahryar's picture

what, exactly, was wrong with doctors coming to your house? With doctors making a good living but not an obscene living? With hospitals that cared about their environments?

Somewhere along the line, it seems to me, it turned into "how much ya got? What are ya gonna do about it?"

Two of the most vital services are health care and shelter and both are run by profiteers.

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divineorder's picture

@Shahryar I am old enough to remember home visits, though I never experienced one.
We happen to have a GP who ONLY takes medicare patients. His wife died, closed his practice for a time, then decided to reopen and skip the rat race of paperwork with the many different providers. With us traveling so much we only see him once or twice a year, but it is amazing how much time he takes with us. Exceptional in this day and age fo sho.

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

@divineorder

One was measles or pox or something like that. The other time was when they took my tonsils out.

I remember sheeny men, watermelon trucks, and milkmen who brought milk in glass bottles.

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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

divineorder's picture

Heh.

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

Single Payer Gold Standard HR 676 Rest in Peace
by RUSSELL MOKHIBER FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
HR 676, the gold standard single payer legislation for the past sixteen years, is no longer.

The House Democrats have decided that their single payer Medicare for All bill will not carry the HR 676 number.

They let that number go this week to a bill that reiterates “the support of the Congress of the United States for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).”

Some in the single payer movement see the abandonment of HR 676 as a betrayal of years of grassroots activism, activism that drew 124 co-sponsors to HR 676 in the House last year.

Now, with Democrats in charge of the House, the Medicare for All single payer bill is being rewritten, watered down and renumbered.

“For the past 16 years, HR 676 was our gold standard bill defining a national improved Medicare for All single payer healthcare system for the United States,” said Margaret Flowers of Health Over Profit for Everyone. “It was based on the 2003 Physicians Working Group proposal by Physicians for a National Health Program.”

“Now that the Democrats can no longer ignore that their base is demanding a single payer health system, we have lost both HR 676 by number and its status as the gold standard. From what we have heard, as we have still not seen the text of the draft as promised, the new health bill being written by Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington) has an unnecessarily long transition period and maintains the for-profit providers in the system. The delayed transition means more preventable deaths and suffering. Keeping the for-profits means higher costs and lower quality of care.”

Jayapal’s bill is being written behind closed doors.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/01/24/single-payer-gold-standard-hr-67...

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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon