Sunday, April 30, 2017

Medicare For All-- Who's Not On Board?


On January 24th John Conyers introduced H.R. 676, the Medicare for All Act. He had 50 cosponsors on that first day, mostly progressives, but New Dem Eliot Engel signed on and so did a member of the House Democratic leadership, Jim Clyburn. No other members of the leadership signed on that day-- nor since-- no Nancy Pelosi, no Steny Hoyer, no Joe Crowley, no Ben Ray Lujan. But since then more than a few other New Dems and even Blue Dogs signed on as cosponsors: Gregory Meeks (New Dem-NY), Anthony Brown (New Dem-MD), Lou Correa (Blue Dog-CA), Jared Polis (New Dem-CO), Ed Perlmutter (New Dem-CO), Vicente Gonzalez (Blue Dog-TX), Adam Smith (New Dem-WA) and, Friday, Blue Dogs Jim Cooper (TN) and Mike Thompson (CA).

I've been vetting a lot of Democratic candidates lately and one question I always ask is about the degree of support they have for single-payer (Medicare For All). I spoke with one guy last week who wanted to be endorsed by Blue America but who said he's unsure about supporting single-payer-- although he's very sure about supporting the NRA and the death penalty. Another candidate-- one who Blue America is endorsing-- is Matt Coffay, the young man running against far right extremist and Freedom Caucus chieftain Mark Meadows in western North Carolina. Yesterday Matt told us that "While a majority of Democrats in Congress now support a single-payer system, there are still a handful of holdouts.This is despite the fact that, according to a recent poll, 60% of Americans want Medicare for All, including 75% of Democratic voters. As a member of Congress, I will proudly support HR 676, a Medicare for All bill introduced by John Conyers. This bill would largely eliminate the health insurance industry, guaranteeing medical coverage for all Americans. The vast majority of the tax revenue needed to fund this single-payer system will come from taxing the wealthiest people in this country, including a tax on the trading of stocks and bonds. It's time the rich started paying their fair share to ensure that all Americans have access to quality health care." You can contribute to Matt's campaign here.

No Republicans have co-sponsored H.R. 676. OK, that's expected. But there are a large number of Democratic incumbents who haven't become co-sponsors of H.R. 676 either. Unfortunately, that's expected too-- part of Pelosi's and Wasserman Schultz's idea of a Big Tent that means nothing much at all. Consider whether you really want to support these men and women as they seek re-election-- especially the ones who have primaries like right-wing Blue Dogs Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) and Dan Lipinski (IL). Most of these incumbents are part of the infamous Republican wing of the Democratic Party; they're not onboard with single payer, though over three-quarters of Democrats-- and a majority of Americans regardless of party-- are. Part of the problem, not the solution:
Josh Gottheimer (Blue Dog-NJ)
Stephanie Murphy (Blue Dog-FL)
Tom O'Halleran (Blue Dog-AZ)
Tom Suozzi (NY)
Jacky Rosen (NV)
Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ)
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)
Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)
Sean Patrick Maloney (New Dem-NY)
Charlie Crist (Blue Dog-FL)
Cheri Bustos (Blue Dog-IL)
Pete Aguilar (New Dem-CA)
Scott Peters (New Dem-CA)
Raul Ruiz (CA)
Ami Bera (New Dem-CA)
Filemon Vela (Blue Dog-TX)
Brad Schneider (Blue Dog-IL)
Dan Lipinski (Blue Dog-IL)
Sanford Bishop (Blue Dog-GA)
Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR)
Kathleen Rice (New Dem-NY)
Bill Foster (New Dem-IL)
Julia Brownley (New Dem-CA)
Tom Walz (MN)
John Delaney (New Dem-MD)
Darren Soto (New Dem-FL)
Salud Carbajal (New Dem-CA)
Dutch Ruppersberger (MD)
Terri Sewell (New Dem-AL)
Ann Kuster (New Dem-NH)
Donald Norcross (New Dem-NJ)
Derek Kilmer (New Dem-WA)
David Scott (Blue Dog-GA)
Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM)
Seth Moulton (New Dem-MA)
Suzan DelBene (New Dem-WA)
Gerry Connolly (New Dem-VA)
Jim Himes (New Dem-CT)
Raja Krishnamoorthi (New Dem-IL)
Ruben Kihuen (New Dem-NV)
Val Demings (New Dem-FL)
Elizabeth Esty (New Dem-CT)
Ron Kind (New Dem-WI)
Mark Veasey (TX)
Colleen Hanabusa (New Dem-HI)
Don Beyer (New Dem-VA)
Lisa Blunt (New Dem-DE)
Joaquin Castro (New Dem-TX)
Joe Courtney (New Dem-CT)
Susan Davis (New Dem-CA)
Rick Larsen (New Dem-WA)
Mike Quigley (New Dem-IL)
Cedric Richmond (New Dem-LA)
Adam Schiff (New Dem-CA)
Norma Torres (New Dem-CA)
Juan Vargas (New Dem-CA)
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (New Dem-FL)
Demands for a national single-payer health plan dominated town hall meetings during the spring congressional recess, Republican incumbents getting most of the heat. Blue Dogs and New Dems need that heat too. Conyers' bill added 28 new co-sponsors in April and there's still plenty of room for growth among current members.

We also decided to ask some of the Democrats running for Congress. Tom Guild is running in the Oklahoma City district represented by anti-healthcare fanatic Steve Russell (OK-05). Russell is backing TrumpCare, Ryan's bill that kicks 24 million people off their health insurance and makes insurance prohibitive for millions of others with pre-existing conditions. Guild offers an alternative vision. He told us he strongly supports the Affordable Care Act and opposes Republican efforts to undermine the ACA. "However, it has become clear that the GOP won’t give up on their seek and destroy operation to repeal the ACA and replace it with something that would be catastrophic for the American people. HR 676 would provide approximately half a trillion dollars each year in savings on overhead and afford coverage to 26 million Americans who are currently uninsured, providing more coverage, better benefits, and lower costs. It is time to go to a Medicare for all healthcare system and take the undue influence of huge corporations and unconscionable corporate profits out of the equation,  that have been financed by the blood, sweat, and tears of American taxpayers. Insurers and big pharmaceutical companies are making out like children sneaking cookies from the cookie jar while no one is looking. HR 676 would provide better, more widespread, more economical, and more efficient healthcare in America. The time has come to transition from the ACA to universal single payer healthcare for our country. Many countries, like Canada, have successfully developed and implemented single payer healthcare systems. The time has come for the United States to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. I will sign on as a co-sponsor of HR 676 when I am elected to Congress."

This was a no brainer for Dr. David Gill the progressive running for the IL-13 seat held by Rodney Davis, a 25 year member of Physicians for a National Health Program. This morning, fresh off a long stint in the Emergency Room, he told us that he passionately "supports H.R. 676 and would proudly sign on to Rep. Conyers' bill when I arrive in Washington in January, 2019. I actually intend to do much more than simply sign on to the bill; as someone who has practiced medicine for nearly 30 years, my experience will afford me a unique opportunity to be a leader in moving H.R. 676 toward passage and into reality. I intend to speak boldly regarding the flaws in American healthcare financing, and about the many myths and lies advanced by the insurance and pharmaceutical industries about single payer."

Goal Thermometer Doug Applegate is the progressive Democrat who nearly beat Issa last year and will likely finished what he started in 2018. He's eager to co-sponsor Medicare for All. "Other industrialized countries of the world have proven single player healthcare systems far more efficient and far more effective," he told us. "Now an American generation faces a future with a shorter life expectancy than their parents and at twice the cost of other industrialized countries. We must fight to put people ahead of insurance and healthcare profits. To that end, I would proudly stand with Congressman Conyers' bill HR 676."

You can contribute directly to the campaigns Matt Coffay, Tom Guild, David Gill and Doug Applegate are waging against anti-healthcare Republicans by tapping on the thermometer on the right.

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At 7:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Meaningless political theater.

There are probably only a dozen or so Ds in the house (none in the senate) that truly want MfA/SP. The rest are signing on (or proposing it, in the case of Conyers) as pure political posturing for the benefit of their districts. They know that the Rs control the agenda in the house, that MfA will never see a floor vote and so their fake advocacy is in no danger of getting in the way of more massive donations from the health care (denial for yoooger profits) lobbies.
Some, like Pelosi et al know that if they signed on their posing would probably be too obviously a lie, OR they promised their funders they would not... so that's why so few Ds.

Voters have to read the actions of the numerically irrelevant democraps through that prism. When you are irrelevant, you can say anything that sounds nice to voters knowing that it'll never ever happen which would make your donors very unhappy.

So..... if you realize this... you then have a different perspective on voting for and, particularly $upporting, more democrap party candidates.

If you want to be treated to a hilariously funny and spastic performance, watch what happens to that MfA/SP thing if the democraps actually retake the house. They'll have to disavow their own bill while still trying to convince voters they really, really still want it. It'll be much better than the ACA performances.

Fortunately, their voters are stupid enough to fall for it... again... still.

At 9:25 AM, Anonymous Tom Wakely said...

Now is the time for Universal Healthcare, all of stars have aligned. We need to empathize two things (1) that socialized medicine works - look at the VA & Medicare (2) the country would save money if we take the profit motive out Healthcare. I believe a strong case can be made for both.

At 10:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course Donald Norcross is one of those 58 "Dems" you listed who are part of the problem.

You've written a lot about the corruption of his older brother, George E. Norcross III, the ruthless South Jersey party boss who installed his kid brother Don in NJ-01 after Rob Andrews was caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

But I don't think you've ever mentioned Big George's day job.

He "currently serves as Executive Chairman of Conner Strong & Buckelew, a national insurance brokerage and employee benefits consulting firm based in Marlton, New Jersey and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania," says Wikipedia. In other words, for-profit health insurance accounts for a big part of George's personal income, and he's not about to let a single payer supporter get on the Democratic ticket for any office -- federal, state or even local -- anywhere in South Jersey if he can help it.

So is Alex Law going to challenge Little Brother Donnie again in 2018? We need him!

At 10:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom, a strong, irrefutable in fact, case can be made for SP... to a sentient audience only. The world uses it and it's better in every way. Our way has proven, every time, to be worse. blah-de-blah.

But you can't reason with stupid nor the religiously deluded. And you can't elect enough non-corrupt democraps to make it happen.

Right now, the stupid and religiously deluded are in charge. And if the democraps ever win either chamber back, it'll be the money in charge.

Can't happen either way.

At 10:27 AM, Blogger Gadfly said...

Beto O'Rourke is not on your list even though he is still NOT, NOT, NOT a cosponsor. Especially since he's announced to run against Cruz, you're not trying to sheepdog anybody, are you?

At 1:14 PM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

Gadfly, thanks for pointing that out. The list isn't exhaustive and I'm sure O'Rourke isn't the only name I left out. I hope he'll see the light. Just like week a couple of his friends in the House did and I'll nudge him on this right now.

At 2:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Adam Schiff was a Blue Dog before redistricting and he moved into parts of Waxman's much more progressive population. So did he just rename himself from Blue Dog to New Dem hoping no one would notice he's still a conservative neoliberal?

At 12:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Mr Wakely:

I completely agree with your points.

However, I would warn you that the term "socialized medicine" is a politically loaded one that could prevent the support for HR676 from those whose support is most needed. The wiki article on the term, for example, suggests "(b)ecause of historically negative associations with socialism in American culture, the term is usually used pejoratively in American political discourse."

The article goes on to explore the range of meanings the term has taken, illustrating the point that any use of the term "socialized medicine," to promote HR676, would need to be accompanied by a carefully worded definition to avoid its use having the completely opposite effect desired. Why not simply stick with a potentially much less explosive term? Perhaps "Medicare for All" or "universal health insurance."

John Puma

At 8:51 AM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

Beto O'Rourke finally got back to me on this:

"I am for single payer; I don't think that Conyer's bill is right way to get there- - doesn't allow for reimbursements to private providers (thousands of hospitals, clinics and doctors' offices). I will either offer an amendment to 676 if it comes to floor (have already reached out to his team to see if they're open, and so far they are not) or offer my own bill. Beto"

At 7:48 PM, Blogger Ammo Alamo said...

I remember when Conyers was holding hearings in a basement room, full of fire, sure to impeach or charge with war crimes those who led America into Afghanistan and Iraq. Then came two years when Dems owned the White House, Congress, and the Senate, and Conyers did nothing but back off on his former fiery promises.

I expect him to do the same with his version of Medicare for All. It might help him with his constituantcy, help him get re-elected, but he's already shown that when push comes to shove he has no backbone and will break his promises without compunction.

Don't get your hopes up, Americans, at least as far as John Conyers is concerned..


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