Medicare For All Brawl

By Derrick Crowe
November 26, 2018

Medicare for All is one of the most popular ideas in American politics. A poll in August from Reuters/Ipsos showed 70-percent in the U.S. for Medicare for All, with a majority of Republicans supporting it. Another poll in October by The Hill/Harris confirmed 70-percent support, and also showed that more than 60 percent of self-described “independents” support it. The recent attempt by Koch-back interests to slam the policy accidentally showed that it would save trillions in health care spending.

The current Medicare for All bill in the House of Representatives has 123 cosponsors, roughly double the number of cosponsors in 2016, and when the new Congress is sworn in, that number will likely grow. Democrats will be in control of that Congress in no small part because of voters putting health care at the top of their priorities list during the midterm elections.

All this is to say that Medicare for All has serious momentum, and that has the for-profit insurance companies terrified.

So, these corporations gearing up for a campaign of lies and scaremongering to stop it.

From The Intercept:

Over the summer, leading pharmaceutical, insurance, and hospital lobbyists formed the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, an ad hoc alliance of private health interests, to curb support for expanding Medicare.

The campaign, according to one planning document, is designed to “change the conversation around Medicare for All,” then “minimize the potential for this option in health care from becoming part of a national political party’s platform in 2020.”

…The group, working with leading Democratic political consultants, will place issue advertisements to target audiences, partner with Beltway think tanks to release studies to raise concerns with the plan, and work to shape the public discourse through targeted advocacy in key congressional districts.

…The Partnership has tapped consulting firms with deep ties to Democratic officials. Forbes-Tate, a lobbying firm founded by former officials in President Bill Clinton’s administration and conservative Democrats in Congress, is managing part of the Partnership coalition. Blue Engine Message & Media, a firm founded by former campaign aides to President Barack Obama, has handled the Partnership’s interactions with the media.

…The strategy exploits familiar themes that have long been used by business groups against new government health care programs, calling for allies to say lines such as “bureaucrats in DC have no understanding of a person’s medical situation and will be making decisions about your health care instead of doctors.”

That last part is a blatant lie, similar to the “death panel” garbage dealt by Sarah Palin and her ilk during the Obamacare debates. Medicare for All is a single-payer program, not a single-provider program. This bill would kill the ability of a for-profit insurance company to stop you from getting the care that you and your doctor have decided that you need, and then make sure you get that care regardless of how much money you have. What these vulture corporations are actually afraid of is that the bill will drive a stake through their hearts and end their ability to hold your health and survival hostage to their bottom line.

Unfortunately, this “slow your roll” message from the sickness profiteers has an audience in the congressional establishment. From Roll Call:

Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey, who is set to be chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said last week he supports the concept, but doesn’t expect the votes to be there. Instead, Pallone said he wants to focus on shoring up the 2010 health care law and addressing prescription drug prices, including by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

“Our priority has to be stabilizing the Affordable Care Act, preventing the sabotage that the Trump administration has initiated,” he told reporters.

…A bill has little chance of winning support from Senate Republicans and Trump, so some Democratic advisers are wary of highlighting an issue that divides the party and could open up lawmakers to outside attacks.

“Until they do a better job of selling this thing, I don’t want to see this become a litmus issue for 2020,” said Jim Manley, a Democratic operative who worked for then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Divides the party? What party? Medicare for All polls at more than 90-percent support among Democrats. Jim must mean something different than I mean by “the Democratic Party.” And to whom must “this thing” be sold? Again, 70-percent support among the general public and majority support from Republicans and independents. It’s sold. It almost sounds like what he means is, let’s give these corporate-backed lobbying groups a better shot at tanking the polling numbers.

We have a presidential election coming up. Our job as leaders should not be to pull the base off of support for progressive policies on behalf of corporations. That is the kind of action that divides the party. Once again for the people in the back: more than 90 percent of our base supports Medicare for All. We may have the House, but we are still an opposition party. So yes, by all means, stabilize the Affordable Care Act, but you are crazy if you think our job isn’t also to pass extremely popular measures out of our legislative body and make our opponents veto or otherwise kill them because of ideology.

Most Republicans currently support Medicare for All. Dare their representatives to vote against their base before corporate hacks have time to try to rob you of that opportunity. 

But more than a strategic imperative, Medicare for All is a moral obligation. We must show people that we believe health care should be a right, not a privilege–to say that no one should be too poor to survive. Health care costs are eating us alive. The corporations who make up this so-called “Partnership for America’s Health Care Future” are eating us alive, for money. We can stop them, and we can show working class people that we are their allies, and Republicans are their enemies.

Congress should pass H.R. 676 immediately.