Health Insurance Industries Join Dem Party & Mainstream Media in Spreading Lies About Medicare for All

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.

Wednesday, June 19, 6:00 – 7:30 pm, Center for Progress and Justice, 1420 Cerrillos Road, Santa Fe, NM.  Panel Discussion on The WIPP and Holtec’s Proposal to Build Another Nuclear Storage Facility in NM.   Retake is promoting this for two reasons. First, the topic and panelists warrant it. But secondly, this kind of forum is precisely the kind of issue-focused event that we had been encouraging the local Democratic Party to organize and promote. Kudos to the Democratic Party of Santa Fe for hosting this important discussion. This forum explores issues with two New Mexico nuclear storage facilities—WIPP, opened in 1999 to store low-to-mid level military waste, and a proposed facility to be built by Holtec International to handle high-level waste from 98 nuclear power plants across the nation.  Holtec’s proposal and possible changes at WIPP raise serious concerns to be discussed by our distinguished panelists:
  • 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.

In solidarity,

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.





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7 replies

  1. The biggest talking point of all should be that we are already paying for it. 3.4 Trillion dollars a year. KFF claims that amounts to 10.224 per person for some of the most ineffective healthcare in the developed world.
    One topic that gets left out of every article on healthcare, or Medicare For All, is Marketing. A lot of the marketing used to be illegal until Reagan and then in 1996 Clinton did away with the few limitations on Direct to Consumer advertising, which led to television advertising of prescription drugs. Since the new administration views healthcare as a for profit enterprise, these pharma advertisers and others are seeking even more leniency. No one has evaluated how much this is costing the system, and misleading and deceiving the public. 1996 not coincidentally is the same year they claimed opiates were deceptively marketed.

    One other topic, is public health, and the deceptive marketing of food. New Mexico has subsidized the very big box stores that are contributing to really bad health outcomes. At every point of sale there is an unlimited supply of high sugar beverages. Nearly every retailer promotes sodas, candy and processed food. In small communities across New Mexico, and the rest of the US, the only source of food is a dollar store. There is a lot more profit in shelf stable unhealthy processed food, which is often the only food available for low income people. We pay for that too, increased rates of obesity, diabetes, and worse. The public would not be so concerned about protecting retailers profits, low wages, and deceptive marketing, if they understood the actual costs.

    A recent article/rant in the Atlantic, covered some of the talking points that they use to disparage Medicare for All. They do make a point though on community. Marketing explains the over treatment and bad health habits. The pharma adds on TV are non stop, and at the same time they market lies and pseudo science on the information TV Shows that many Americans are exposed to. Some of the TV Shows are really only marketing platforms for pharma products and plastic surgery. Deceptive marketing online as the advertising industry cooks up new ways to recruit influencers and target patient advocacy groups.,

    We see this every day here in Santa Fe, deceptive medical and health advertising. No one gives it a second thought. It has warped our perception of health, while allowing really unhealthy behaviors to proliferate. There are fast food restaurants everywhere, we pay for that too, whether through welfare programs to support their workers or the medical costs associated with a diet of fast food. The food marketers target children, predominantly low income children, online or in TV commercials. We will pay for that too, as children’s obesity rates are rising. Our elected officials turn to corporations to help with advertising targeting children, and even the so called opioid epidemic, which would never have happened it we had Medicare for all.

    We continue to see massive corporate influences on all of our policy makers and politicians. They continue to tout the fast food restaurants and dollar stores as economic development. All of these stores expanded their processed food, floor space in order to take food stamps. Not one local politicians noticed how this impacted communities. They instead chose to blame the individuals for their “lifestyle” as if poverty is a choice. We see this same false narrative played out by so called progressive groups, that rely on wealthy foundations for funding. They ran a counter narrative about healthy food as if people have access to it. The media is silent, they cannot mention brand names or particular businesses, unless it is in a positive light.

    We would need better data tracking for Medicare, they have allowed of industry influences to corrupt the data they collect. Health providers often game the system, due to low reporting requirements, or the false expectation that these big profitable corporations, can police themselves. Lobbyists have attacked anything that does not help their profits. There are billboards in Santa Fe, proclaiming our local hospital got 4 stars, after years of “under-performance.” The fact that their patients leave the hospital to die in Albuquerque hospitals, contributed to that rating. New Mexico has some of the worst rates of suicide, alcoholism and bad health outcomes in the nation. People really should be terrified, but our media keeps them complacent. Our politicians work for the healthcare industry, not the people

    The FDA was supposed to be protecting our health, instead under the control of industry interests, it has added to the costs of healthcare. They wanted to protect the industry profits so they hid millions of reports. Of course there is no data on how much this cost the healthcare system, and medicare. Local people were effected by this, yet our media is silent. Many of them had to undergo repeated surgeries and Medicare paid for a lot of it. Unfortunately there wont be any recourse for the patients they harmed. There won’t be any investigation, and no costs evaluated.

    One of the first items on Trumps agenda, as to get rid of fines for under-performing nursing homes, There was one right here in Santa Fe, and corrupt state workers hid reports of abuse. Our politicians protected the industry. There won’t be report on the costs associated with any of it. Our local media, DOH and the agencies that were supposed to be regulating this, looked the other way to protect the corporations.

    Yup! We are all being Gas Lighted every day. Our Congress would not have to be arguing over prescription drug prices if we had Medicare For All. The current system is too broken to repair, like everything else the laws and regulations that were supposed to protect us are gone. I don’t know if that HSA is going to identify much. it seems to me these groups only give legitimacy to the current system. They can only identify limited issues, due to the data available to them.

  2. It does seem that the DNC isn’t getting the message and stuck in their old habits. My question is how do we get our voices heard by them. We are already working on the local level to get our State Party behind Universal Health Care and we are making significant strides toward our own law even if the stop gap is still a buy in. I have tried emails and phone calls but it is hard to even get through. I suspect other States are also working on this. We have many candidates espousing this point of view and we donate to them to tell the DNC powers who we support. Yet we need a non candidate coordinated effort direct to the DNC (and DCCC and even the DSCC). The DNC knows the facts and shouldn’t be swayed by the false rhetoric, right? If we can’t convince our own Party Leadership that this is the winning position, it will all the harder to get past the noise you point out to the general voting public.

  3. Hi Paul. Mar’s incredible analysis says it all. The facts be damned. Gas lighting is the new opioid. Several times I have written about the root of the human dilemma. Nowhere is this more revealing than in the DINO bulldozer mentality of ‘do not shake the apple cart.’

    Cehan de Rohan, a brilliant NM author, has written prolifically about the right use of Will, and the traumas associated with fetal development, birth and infant and toddler traumas on the ability of the brain to reason clearly and avoid repetitive behaviors. I oversimplify it by calling it ‘conditioning,’ but the outcomes echo Pavlov’s work on channeling behavior via continuous repetition of stimuli.

    Mar’s accurate portrayal of advertising as the engine of mental conditioning could not be more sinister. Humans have inherent weaknesses, mostly from birth, that make addictive behaviors and outright addictions the new norm. If one is even somewhat clear thinking, facts do matter, because they are the substance of verification and falsification, of induction vs. deduction, of inferential thinking vs. data-driven observation, measurement and analysis.

    But who has time for that, when the brinksmanship of amerikan life demands instant decisions, instant gratification, instant analysis and instantaneous transformation? Cohen, in ‘Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow,’ shows via tons of experimental psychological research, that the fast brain, the medulla oblongata, has three settings, off, on, reset, and is essentially managed by the primordial reptile brain response of protect, defend, destroy, remember.

    Rohan’s brilliant book, “Feelings Matter,” demonstrates vividly that early development traumas predispose the human brain, the fast brain, to reactive behaviors, reinforced by a simple analysis of what happened, how did it make me feel, how did I avoid or repel the trauma, and how do I avoid it again. The same trauma need not ever occur again, only one that creates similar dramatic sensations in the reptile brain, to yet again trigger the exact same behavioral response as the original trauma.

    Hence, conditioned response, again and again, regardless of evidentiary facts and critical analysis.

    The slow brain, which Cohen characterizes as kind of lazy, needs perceptive clarification of an event in order to kick itself into gear, do the observation, inventory, analysis and problem solving, and then catalogue the event correctly via contextual awareness into the library of events that create a thinking and reasoning brain.

    Clever and cunning humans, who themselves are victims of these traumas, can also learn strategies of manipulation that create dramas of control, intimidation and conditioned response – Gas lighting, projection, transference, outright lying, purposefully flawed reasoning to create confusion and suspicion, false flag scenarios, sadistic behaviors and ultimately, perversions. Just watch some lizards interact for awhile out in the backyard near the hot rocks. They are more deadly than ninjas.

    In short, we humans have outsmarted ourselves. We have effectively, if not sadistically, created split personalities capable of accepting, carte blanche, diametrically opposed realities, both of which appear to be true, at the same time in the same locations.

    In conclusion, we are nuts. And we love it, because pain is now pleasure, right is wrong, and bad is good. We are absolutely the healthiest sick people ever, the owner of more toxic chemicals in our systems than anyone else, the repeat champions of domination and the most brilliant idiots ever born.

    And if you do not believe us, we will kick your ass across the Persian Gulf because you started this fight, you created the trauma, and we are going to end it, and never forget how dangerous you are.

    Marat de Saude, anyone?

    Mick NIckel

    • I am sad to say you are right Mike! I do not have an account, it is too creepy. I have been tracking some of these issues in our local media. It is Orwellian how it is all defined. We are now seeing the children of the traumatized, they made it all generational. One would think that the number of distressed children, would have inspired some kind of action, but it didn’t. The apathy gets reinforced constantly.

      At the higher end grocery stores, there are all of these glossy magazine promoting mindfulness, and wellness, while at the dollar stores, they are peddling diets and celebrity gossip. I think it is genocidal. What I find the most disgusting is the monetization of all of it.

      Right now I am watching one of our presidential hopefuls, explain “mindfulness,” on C-Span. Not 20 minutes ago, I read this,

      I am not sure if we have outsmarted ourselves, perhaps we are not as clever as we think we are. Marketers and propagandists have been harvesting our data, and cleverly tailoring it. All of that psychological research was not used to benefit us, it was used for manipulation and marketing. That is where the real money is.

      The corporations did not like that research on trauma, so they created their own research. They get this junk science amplified by the media, and get psychologists to apply it. They countered the trauma findings with positive psychology so now trauma, builds resilience. Neo Liberalism had to come up with an alternate world view. That view is reinforced constantly.

      The number of homeless people, should have been an indicator that something is wrong, instead they run adversity porn. Notice how they never mention who is profiting, while they claim that only mental health issues cause homelessness. It is all about the individual, and they are “incurable” according to current beliefs. Plenty of people work 3 jobs in the gig economy, to avoid homelessness, but they make it about the individuals. A patronizing take on a couple or quirky individuals, that just don’t know what is good for them. They are non entities.

  4. There are a variety of different medicare-for-all / public-plan options that have been proposed in the 116th congress that are worth taking a look at, since these would probably provide the basis for debate if the democratic party gets control of the house+senate+presidency. A pretty good overview by the Kaiser Family Foundation can be found at:

    KFF has also produced a very detailed side by side comparison of the different plans which can be found at:

    KFF didn’t do any “cost” estimates in their analysis, but, as has been pointed out repeatedly, most “cost” estimates that are floating around are deeply flawed. (Yes taxes and government spending on healthcare would go up under a medicare for all plan, but private spending would go down and a lot of overhead costs would disappear, etc., etc., etc.).

    What may be of particular interest in this context locally is that Toulouse-Oliver is a supporter of medicare for all, while B.R. Lujan is one of the sponsors of a medicaid buy in program – H.R. 1277 (perhaps the most minimalist of the public buy in options).

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