We are told that the American people do not want to give up their insurers and do not favor Medicare for All. Except polls show they do support Medicare for All by wide margins. We are told that Medicare for All would bankrupt us, except that economic research and the experience of other countries proof this to be false as well. The powers that be blow smoke and use mirrors…again.
Before diving into an extraordinary story of corporate malfeasance, industry manipulation, and Democratic Party collusion, a few short announcements.
- NM Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia RichardGovern
- State Representative Christine Chandler (District 43), representing Los Alamos; formerly, attorney with Los Alamos National Laboratory
- Don Hancock, Director, Nuclear Waste Program at Southwest Research and Information Center
- Sally Rodgers, Environment Policy Advisor for former NM governors; Conservation Voters NM founder
- Panel Moderator: Cheryl Rofer, former LANL chemist
Inaugural Ripple Feminist Forum. Surfing the Waves: The Women’s Movement Past and Future. Saturday, June 22, 4pm-6pm at the James Little Theatre 1060 Cerrillos Rd. Santa Fe. Ripple will dive deep into the issues surrounding what is commonly framed as the first, second, and third waves of feminism. We will discuss the lost historical narrative of women of color’s integral role in building the women’s movement, to better understand where we’ve come from. We’ll also look at what worked, and how those ‘waves’ shaped the intersectional grassroots organizing led by millennial women in the current iteration of the movement. We will open it up to audience participation and discussion on how we can work together to build an inclusive and strong feminist movement. Click here for more information and bios of the speakers for this event.
Health Lobbyists Collude with Democratic Party Leadership & the Media to Bury Our Hopes for Medicare for All
In yesterday’s post, I identified a half dozen historic industry-promoted initiatives where industry lobbyists and conservative think-tanks would essentially invent their own research, prop up ‘experts’ to ‘testify’ in support of their false claims and use the mainstream media to influence the public debate. In truth, it is not an effort to influence the public debate, so much as it is to dominate and control it Yesterday, we examined examples from the tobacco, auto, pharmaceutical, fossil fuel and Nestle–all deploying precisely the same communication strategies to delude and confuse the public. As luck would have it, Wednesday’s Truthout post offered up a contemporary example of just this dynamic: the public debate about Medicare for All.
The Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF) is probably the most prominent coalition of private companies and trade associations is made up of dozens of industry lobbies, including America’s Health Insurance Plans, the American Hospital Association, and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, among other industry giants. From Truthout: “A large part of the strategy, according to documents leaked to The Intercept, is “earned media,” or reports and articles they helped push into existence to support their agenda or repeat their talking points and statistics.” Truthout did some excellent investigative reporting, so I encourage you to review the article itself as the links to secondary sources are quite instructive. Click here to read the full report, but what follows is the gist of yet another effort to suppress good policy and ignore our interests in favor of industry profits.
The PAHCF has compiled an array of highly questionable “research” to undermine the campaign to advance Medicare for All. The propaganda they have assembled is then disseminated through their extensive network resulting in the public debate on Medicare for All being polluted with half truths or flat out lies. Among the misinformation:
The American people do not support Medicare for All. Here they use polling data with questions like: If Medicare for All would significantly raise your taxes, would you support it? With stilted polling like that you can prove just about anything you want. The polling data at right is closer to the truth.In all the scenarios posed at right, the majority of Americans support Medicare for All. What’s more, from one of the sources sited by Truthout, we find that: “The vast majority of Americans, 70 percent, now support Medicare-for-all, otherwise known as single-payer health care, according to a new Reuters survey. That includes 85 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans. Only 20 percent of Americans say they outright oppose the idea.” That is pretty compelling evidence of support for the policy, making it unfathomable that PAHCF could make the following false claim.
Democratic candidates should avoid even talking about Medicare for All. A PAHCF memo claims, “It [Medicare for All] costs $32 trillion over ten years and puts workers on the hook,” the memo warns, citing a study from a libertarian think tank with ties to the Koch brothers. “Anything like Sanders-style single payer is ripe for attack.” This is not the first time we have seen an alliance between the Kochs and New Democrats, and recent reports suggest it may not be the last.” Here you find a compounding of lies, false assertions about the cost of Medicare for All compounded with assertions that support for single-payer would make any candidate “ripe for attack.” Yet somehow the vast majority of the Democratic candidates did not get this memo, as there is broad support for Medicare for All among most of the 20+ Democratic presidential candidates. This does not stop PAHCF and their allies from feeding the media false information that they then happily parrot. From Truthout: “A particularly egregious example is Michelle Cottle, an editorial board member for The New York Times, describing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other supporters of single-payer as children who must be “reined in” by the “adult in the room,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.”
The health industry could achieve universal access to quality care by just improving the current system, i.e. preserving the health plan, pharma, and insurance industries and their profits and control. This is also known as the so-called “public option.” From Truthout: ”The only analysis the Congressional Budget Office has done on a public option showed it would only have “minimal effects” on access. Even potentially stronger versions do not exert enough savings to expand coverage to all if they leave the commodified, wasteful private system in place. ‘[Public option or ‘buy-in’ proposals] would retain multiple payers and therefore sacrifice much of the administrative savings available under single-payer plans,’ according to a June 4 report in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The report is written by Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein, both co-founders of Physicians for a National Health Program and lecturers at Harvard Medical School. ‘These plans would cover only a fraction of uninsured persons, few of whom could afford the premiums … [and] do little to improve the comprehensiveness of existing coverage.’ ” Yet, PAHCF and their allies continue to promote the ‘public option’ as if it were the only option, despite it not being able to significantly improve quality, access or cost of care. These same lobbyists then chide those supporting single-payer or Medicare for All as proposing a model that would in truth, achieve all of those goals: improved accessed, reduced cost, and improved quality of care.
We can’t afford it. I heard this kind of messaging parroted by Speaker Egolf on the Retake radio show two weeks ago. He quoted how the Health Security Act would cost $8B, more than double the state budget, going on to state that there was no need to do a study and that the plan was simply not economically feasible. Likely he got his data from PAHCF or one of their partners, as this is precisely the kind of false narrative being peddled by them on a national level. From Truthout: “Despite efforts to paint Medicare for All as hopelessly expensive, according to numerous studies, it is a cheaper option than doing nothing. This is because single-payer financing allows for economies of scale, a wider risk pool and better bargaining power for drugs, administrative savings and eliminating the expensive private insurance companies who serve as middlemen.”
And, as the chart at left illustrates, in every country employing a universal healthcare system costs are a fraction of what are incurred in the US. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine why these countries have sharply reduced medical costs: by being the single purchaser of pharmaceuticals, they set the price for drugs vastly reducing the costs and they cut out insurance plans and insurance premiums. What you are paying for in these countries is medical care; what you pay for in the US is medical care as managed, organized and priced by pharma, insurers and health plans.
And more from Truthout:
“Evidence exists for this all over the world, where single-payer health care (or a strong equivalent) is the norm. “The U.S. spends more per person on health than comparable countries,” according to a recent analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). Health spending per person in the U.S. was $10,224 in 2017, which was 28 percent higher than Switzerland, the next highest per capita spender.” The United Kingdom has universal care and spends just $4,246 per person. The average “comparable country,” as defined by KFF, spends $5,280, just more than half of what the U.S spends.” And yet PAHCF continues to claim that Medicare for All would bankrupt the health system.
And one more:
” ‘ Medicare is a very popular program, so the idea of expanding it to everyone is popular as well,’ Larry Levitt, senior vice president for health reform at the Kaiser Family Foundation, tells CNBC Make It. ‘The advantage of Medicare-for-all, which is much closer to how the rest of the world provides health care to their residents, is that you can achieve universal coverage at a lower cost.’ “
And so, just as we discussed yesterday, we again find health industries and their associations using their billions in profit to assemble a media messaging team that works with studies conducted by groups like the Koch brothers to create speaking points and messaging that are then disseminated through the media where it becomes part of the accepted vernacular. Once again, those speaking the truth, in this instance Bernie Sanders, AOC, and over a dozen Democratic Presidential candidates are the “children” who must be reined in, just as Ralph Nader was the child in the room pointing out inconvenient truths about the auto industry. We are always the children in the room, naïve, deluded and, once again correct. But with all their money and their influence in the media, the drum bangs on and on: too costly, politically toxic, not popular with the American people. It doesn’t matter whether their argument is a tissue of lies, if it is told often enough, in enough media outlets, by enough talking heads, it becomes true. Facts be damned. And, did you hear the one about climate change? There are actually these childish liberals out there who think climate change is man made and a serious threat. Better rein those kids in, too. No climate change presidential debate for you. It might offend our gas and oil funders.
If you didn’t read yesterday’s post, I highly recommend it. it took two weeks to research and prepare and examines in depth the dynamic that is described above. Click here to review that post.
Paul & Roxanne
P.S. I am becoming more and more concerned that national Democratic Party leadership, the DNC, and the DCCC are becoming hopelessly out of step with the rank and file Democrats. In just the past couple weeks, the Dumbs (instead of Dems) have:
- Doubled down in support of a pro-life, corporate Democrat incumbent from Chicago, Rep. Dan Lipinski and refused to endorse or even provide credibility to his pro-choice opponent, Marie Newman;
- Implemented a policy that would prevent the Democratic Party to provide work to any campaign manager who works with a Democratic candidate challenging any Democratic incumbent, essentially preventing any newer, younger, more progressive Democrats from accessing experienced professional support needed to mount a credible campaign;
- Refused to schedule a debate focused on climate change and threatened to ban from any future sponsored debates any candidate who participates in a climate change debate;
- Joined forces with the health, insurance, and pharma industries to misinform Democrats about the viability and popularity of Medicare for All
- Continue the mantra of inevitability that only Biden can win…..thankfully he is starting to drop in the polls. I see a plummet coming.
So for those keeping track, we have a party that just enjoyed a huge election win resulting in an infusion of young, progressive women Representatives in the US House and in state legislatures across the country. So now, the party is doing all it can to stem that flow and protect their corporate-centrist incumbents It is turning its back on women who want to preserve the right to make decisions about their own healthcare by throwing their support to a pro-life centrist Democrat, just weeks after six states pass horrific abortion laws. They are refusing to debate the issue that is foremost on most Democrats’ minds and spreads lies about one of the most popular public policies in America. Anyone wondering why they call these folks DINOS? Embarrassing, but also frighteningly dangerous. These are the leaders who will coordinate the campaign, the messaging and the selection of the candidate to oppose Donald Trump.