UPCOMING WEBINAR: MARCH 16TH
What: “Best Care in the US: What National Single Payer Activists Need to Know About VA Health Care”
When: Thursday, March 16, 2023, at 5 PM Pacific/8 PM Eastern
Who: Lakiesha Lloyd (disabled Army veteran and Climate Justice Organizer for Common Defense), Bruce Carruthers (Vietnam veteran, retired VA employee, and member of Veterans for Peace), Suzanne Gordon (award-winning journalist, author, and Senior Policy Fellow at the Veterans’ Health Care Policy Institute), and Dr. Jim Martin (emergency medicine physician at the James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago, run jointly by the Navy and the Department of Veterans Affairs).
Background: The nationally financed systems of Medicare and the Veterans Administration, one privately delivered and one publicly delivered, offer us models in the struggle for everyone to enjoy the human right to health care. In the VA system, veterans, veteran health care professionals, and veteran health advocates are working against privatization and outsourcing. Similarly, advocates of national improved Medicare for all are fighting the privatization schemes of ACO REACH and Medicare Advantage. Join us to learn about the VA system, its accomplishments, and challenges and how we can collaborate to fight privatization.
All attendees must register in advance.
PAST NSP WEBINARS
“U.S. Health Care from a Global Perspective, 2022: Accelerating Spending, Worsening Outcomes” (The Commonwealth Fund)
“Labor Leaders Provide Cover for Privatization of Medicare” (CounterPunch)
CALIFORNIA ORGANIZERS BUILD MOVEMENT AGAINST ACO REACH AND FURTHER PRIVATIZATION OF MEDICARE
In California, the Movement to End Privatization of Medicare has been hard at work rallying members to protect Traditional Medicare from the threat of privatization by passing resolutions against ACO REACH.
The “Movement” has a 3-pronged strategy to end ACO REACH and protect Medicare from further privatization.
1) Passing resolutions in county Central Labor Councils calling for the termination of ACO REACH. Five Central Labor Councils have passed resolutions: Alameda; Contra Costa; San Francisco; North Bay; and Humboldt & Del Norte.
2) Passing resolutions in Democratic Party County Central Committees demanding an end to ACO REACH. Eight counties have passed resolutions: Marin; Humboldt; San Francisco; Siskiyou; Sonoma; Alameda; Trinity; and Santa Barbara.
3) Creating teams of constituents to meet with their members of Congress to raise awareness about ACO REACH and to request that their members of Congress write a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Becerra demanding an end to ACO REACH.
The resolutions passed by the Central Labor Councils and the Democratic Party counties are meant to put pressure on the California Federation of Labor, the AFL-CIO, and the California Democratic Party to come out publicly against ACO REACH.
In addition, the California Alliance for Retired Americans is in the process of initiating an Assembly Joint Resolution, which, if approved, would put the California Legislature on record opposing ACO REACH.
WHAT WE WANT TO SEE IN H.R. 1976 IN 2023
By Kay Tillow, Member, National Single Payer Steering Committee
There are two areas in which H.R. 1976 showed improvements over the Conyers bill, H.R. 676—one in specifically naming reproductive rights and the other in spelling out long-term supports and services. We wholeheartedly support these improvements.
Needed changes to H.R. 1976 prior to introduction in 2023:
- For-profit hospitals, nursing homes, and other institutions have been proven to provide inferior care at higher cost, and that is why the Physicians Proposal for a National Health Program does not allow them to participate in a single payer plan. The concern and solution are discussed by Himmelstein and Woolhandler in a 2018 Health Affairs article. To accomplish this and preserve health care infrastructure, the bill must ban for-profit institutions and contain a plan for conversion as in the Conyers bill. The bill had 124 cosponsors indicating that such a provision did not hinder cosponsorship. As we know, the issue becomes more crucial as private equity and venture capital firms are overwhelming all parts of health care.
- In addition to first priority in job placement and retraining, the Conyers bill provided for 2 years of annual salary to displaced workers. H.R. 1976 should be amended to include that provision. This is critical not only to a just transition but also to winning the support of the workers and unions vital to passage of the bill.
- The Conyers bill laid out a tax structure that provided for progressive funding. H.R. 1976 has no provision for funding by a progressive tax. That should be added to assure that the tax burden is shifted from workers to the wealthy, the billionaires, and corporate entities.
- H.R. 1976 adds a transition period through a Medicare Buy-In sold on the Exchange. Because H.R. 1976 expands care while maintaining the private insurance companies, costs will skyrocket before the savings of single payer kick in. Such a provision lends credence to the false claim that the nation cannot move directly to Improved Medicare for All. Such a transition will have unequal impacts on different age groups in the population, causing disunity and undermining support for national single payer. There should be no staged age group inclusion, no Medicare Buy-In, no selling of Medicare on the Exchange. That would be an expensive administrative nightmare and contradict sound health policy.
GETTING SINGLE PAYER ON A (LOCAL) BALLOT
By Judy Albert, Member, National Single Payer Steering Committee
Polling data indicate that there is broad majority public support for single payer health care provided by the federal government to all residents from birth to death. However, elected officials would have us believe that the public is happy with their private insurance plans. Many working people cannot afford to get health care even if they have health insurance. Meanwhile, 30 million people are uninsured and an additional 40 million are underinsured, facing bankruptcy if they have a health emergency. Our federal safety net plans, Medicaid and Medicare, are extensively privatized, allowing the profit motive to erode care for the most vulnerable while private insurance corporations post record profits.
And yet, elected officials refuse to consider the only truly just health care reform: National Single Payer. To move single payer health reform forward, we need to win the hearts and minds of the people. We have recently seen that taking the vote to the people and winning support for single payer is possible. Citizen efforts in Dunn County, Wisconsin and Edwardsville and Cunningham townships in Illinois put single payer on the ballot in 2022. This gave registered voters the choice to show their support—and all ballot measures won. In Dunn County, WI, where Trump won by wide margins in 2020, the ballot measure for a publicly financed, non-profit, national health insurance program that would fully cover medical care costs for all Americans passed. This is evidence that National Single Payer is non-partisan. Everyone, regardless of political persuasion, needs health care.
An advisory question is a type of ballot measure in which citizens vote on a non-binding question in a local jurisdiction during a regular election. The difference between an advisory question and any other type of ballot measure is that the outcome of the ballot question will not result in a new, changed, or rejected law or constitutional amendment. Rather, the advisory question symbolically makes heard the opinion of the voting population about the issue at hand. An advisory vote in favor of National Single Payer could influence elected officials.
It is important to distinguish a ballot measure from a resolution in support of single payer. Dozens of these resolutions have passed in local jurisdictions (city, county councils), and by labor union locals and medical societies. These are great, but not visible to most citizens and require mobilizing on a smaller scale of membership or elected groups. Ballot measures get the issue in front of registered voters and have the potential to educate the public AND elected officials about support for a just system of health care. Successful ballot measures, even though only advisory, can produce a much stronger organized and more activated base of support for future organizing.
National Single Payer is working with organizers from Dunn County and Edwardsville / Cunningham Townships to create a tool kit for anyone who is interested in single payer ballot initiatives in their local jurisdiction. Rules for creating a ballot measure vary widely from state to state and even from county to county within the same state. If you or your organization are interested in joining a national campaign of ballot measures for single payer, contact Judy Albert or Ed Grystar.