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Senator Shaheen Joins With Sen Sanders In Support Of Medicare For All

Image by Molly Adams FLKR CC

Shaheen Announces Support for Medicare For All Act Introduced by Senator Sanders and Reiterates Need for Immediate Bipartisan Fixes to Current System

(Washington, DC)— “I support the Medicare For All Act because I believe that healthcare should be a fundamental right in this country,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen (NH). “Too many Granite Staters continue to struggle to access quality affordable healthcare. I know that in a Republican-controlled Congress this legislation will not pass in the near term, but I believe this bill puts pressure on Congress to think big when it comes to providing the healthcare that all Americans need and deserve. The immediate task at hand for Congress is to stabilize the current healthcare marketplace and find bipartisan means to drive down costs. I am encouraged by recent bipartisan healthcare hearings and I’m optimistic that Congress will soon act to pass bipartisan legislation that makes necessary adjustments to the Affordable Care Act, including my proposal to continue providing cost-sharing support to working families.”

Senator Bernie Sanders introduced his Medicare for All bill this morning and released the following video encouraging more people to get behind the Medicare for All movement.

In an email to supporters Sen Bernie Sanders wrote:

“The American people are with us on this issue. They understand that it is absurd that we spend almost twice as much per capita on health care as any other country and that we pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. They also know that we already have a very popular and effective single-payer system in this country. It’s called Medicare, and it has succeeded in providing near-universal coverage to Americans over the age of 65. It is time to expand Medicare to all.

…Medicare for All means that Americans will no longer hesitate about going to the doctor because they can’t afford the cost. It will mean that a hospital stay will not bankrupt us or leave us deeply in debt. It will mean that we can go to the doctor we want, not just one in our particular plan. It will mean that we will no longer be spending enormous amounts of time filling out complicated forms and arguing with insurance companies as to whether or not we have the coverage we paid for. It will mean that we will be able to get the prescription drugs we need at a price we can afford. It will mean that middle class families will not have to spend 20 or 30 percent of their incomes on health care.”

CNN reports:

“Under Sanders’ proposal, Americans would receive a “Universal Medicare card” that would be a ticket to a comprehensive health care services, including hospital stays, doctor visits, substance abuse treatment, dental, vision and reproductive care — including abortion.

…The bill calls for the elimination of premiums for private health insurance, deductibles and co-pays. However, most Americans and businesses will pay what Sanders says is a much smaller share of their income to fund the program.”

Senator Shaheen joins the other 15 Senate co-sponsors of Sanders bill: Tammy Baldwin, Richard Blumenthal, Cory Booker, Al Franken, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Martin Heinrich, Mazie Hirono, Patrick Leahy, Ed Markey, Jeff Merkley, Brian Schatz, Tom Udall, Elizabeth Warren, and Sheldon Whitehouse.

To address our current healthcare problems, Senator Shaheen introduced the Marketplace Certainty Act earlier this year, which permanently appropriates payments for cost-sharing reductions to provide stability in marketplaces and bring down premiums, and also expands eligibility for these reductions to more Americans. Last week, Senator Shaheen applauded the bipartisan efforts led by Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) as the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held a series of healthcare hearings with state insurance commissioners and governors on bipartisan measures to fix the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Call you Senators and ask them to co-sponsor Senator Sanders Medicare For All bill today.

Change, Cost and Compassion — Selling Medicare For All

By Brad Bannon

Republicans have been as quiet as church mice on healthcare reform since the latest version of what I call “Trump(Doesn’t)Care” crashed and burned in the Senate. President Trump will try to kill ObamaCare by executive fiat while the president’s addled allies in Congress bumble their way into their next half-baked scheme to produce tax cuts for the rich and misery for working families.

Democratic initiative trumps GOP inertia. No one could accuse Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) of being asleep at the switch while Trump golfs and Senate Majority Leader Mitch O’Connell enjoys his summer vacation. Sanders is using the summer congressional work session to work at building support for his universal health proposal, Medicare for All.

The GOP is great at killing laws but bad at giving birth to them. The late great Democratic Speaker of the House, Sam Rayburn, used to say, “A jackass can kick a barn down but it takes a carpenter to build one.”

A hidden winner in the battle between ObamaCare and TrumpCare has been Medicare for All. Since the bitter cage match between Affordable Care Act and the efforts to repeal and replace it erupted, support for universal healthcare has exploded.

Last March an Associated Press national survey indicated that there was roughly an even split (52 percent agree while 47 percent disagree) between Americans who believed that the federal government had a responsibility to provide healthcare coverage to everyone and people who didn’t think the feds had that obligation.

In a new AP poll, support for universal coverage had increased so much there is now a large majority (62 percent to 37 percent) of Americans who believe the federal government has the responsibility to guarantee health insurance for all Americans.

Democrats would lose a great chance to fundamentally reform the broken healthcare system and the party’s establishment if we aren’t bold. Here are the best arguments progressives must make to provide Medicare for all.

First, the need for fundamental change. The healthcare system, like a lot of other systems in the United States, is a mess. Is it any wonder that only 1 in 4 (27 percent-Gallup Poll) Americans think the country is headed in the right direction?

Trump rode the wave of anger and hostility towards the status quo into the White House. But TrumpCare hurts the people who supported Trump. A bold remedy for fundamental change in the ailing healthcare system would help position the Democratic Party as the party of change and reform and help win back working families who jumped ship in 2016 to support the GOP presidential candidate.

The U.S. spends more money per capita for healthcare than any country in the world and gets little in return. Inflationary medical costs are jobs killers. Millions of Americans are in danger of bankruptcy to pay for medical care for serious injuries and infirmities. Meanwhile insurance companies are reaping enormous profits and their CEOs are paid exorbitant salaries.

The second argument for Medicare for All is the need to reduce costs. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that U.S. spending for healthcare in 2016 was $9,024 per person. The average spending for all developed nations was only $3,620.

According to OECD, the average life expectancy for Americans has increased by nine years since 1960. In Japan, life expectancy has risen by fifteen years. The average increase for developed nations is eleven. The mortality rate for American men without a high school education — the Trump base — has decreased.

The best way to lower healthcare costs is to take private insurance companies and their highly paid CEOs out of the equation. In 2015, Cigna CEO David Cordani made $49 million and Aetna CEO Mark Bertolino made nearly $28 million. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who is responsible for Medicare, makes $199,700 per year.

Economist Thomas Frank recently pointed out in the New York Times that Medicare administrative costs are only 2 percent. Administrative costs for private insurance companies are about 6 times higher.

Lastly, there is the argument for compassion. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhuman.”

Even if ObamaCare survives, there still will be 26 million Americans who do not have health insurance coverage. If some version of TrumpCare replaces the Affordable Care Act, another 15 to 26 million people will join the ranks of the uninsured. Neither program adequately addresses the problems millions of other Americans have in paying rising premiums for coverage.

TrumpCare is hard hearted and mean spirited. Republicans didn’t plan to fail, they just failed to plan for a reasonable alternative to ACA for people who need coverage.

The GOP wants to cut Medicare. We should build on Medicare as a foundation to build a better system. The Sanders’ Medicare for All plan is the best way to fundamentally clean up the mess. We already have universal coverage for the seniors and the disabled. Even though Medicare is socialism for seniors, anytime the GOP tries to get rid of it, the effort crashes in flames.

Medicare is a popular program with a long track record of success. The Kaiser family Foundation asked Americans how they felt about giving all Americans access to Medicare and found that a large majority (57 percent to 38 percent) people favored the idea.

The blood feud between Republicans and Democrats over healthcare reform this year in Congress is just a skirmish; not the decisive battle in the health reform war. The path to real healthcare reform is a long and winding road that doesn’t end at the intersection of ObamaCare and TrumpCare.

Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. (There is no relation to Trump adviser Stephen Bannon). He is also a senior adviser to, and editor of, the blog at MyTiller.com, a social media network for politics. Contact him at brad@bannoncr.com

40% Increase In Premiums Highlight Need For A Better Healthcare System

Below is the press release from the NH Department of Insurance explain the massive spike in healthcare premiums, specifically on those who get insurance through the ACA marketplace.  Below that is my opinion on what we can do to fix this problem. 


Federal Government Announces 2018 Rate Increases

CONCORD, NH – NH Department Of Insurance Press Release  The federal government today published information on proposed rate increases for New Hampshire’s health insurance exchange in 2018, showing that consumers in the individual market may face increases of more than forty percent.

“Today’s news about rates is alarming, especially for the 94,000 New Hampshire residents who obtain their insurance through the individual market, but unfortunately, it does not come as a surprise,” said Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny. “A number of factors have led to rate increases for 2018 in New Hampshire and across the country, most notably the continued uncertainty at the federal level. My staff and I have been actively engaged to identify options to lessen the impact on the thousands of families who rely on health insurance through the state exchange.”

The 2018 rate information released today by the federal government details proposed increases to benefit plans that are submitted by insurance companies operating on the exchange.  (The New Hampshire Insurance Department is prohibited by law from releasing rate information until Nov. 1.)  A benefit plan is a specific plan that a New Hampshire resident would select for enrollment, such as a bronze, silver, or gold level metal plan.

Three companies have announced their intentions to offer plans on the 2018 exchange in New Hampshire: Ambetter, Anthem, and Harvard Pilgrim. A fourth, Minuteman Health, also has proposed rate increases listed on the federal site, but those plans will not be available to consumers, as the company announced in June that it would stop offering plans in 2018.

The information published today by the federal government shows that some of the state’s insurers have submitted benefit plans for the individual market with substantial increases. The New Hampshire Insurance Department looks at premiums each year from a market-wide perspective, comparing the median premium for a silver-level plan covering a 40-year-old non-tobacco-user.  For 2017, the median premium at this level was $335; the median premium at this level for 2018 would be $479, based on the carriers’ initially proposed rates.  If these rates are ultimately approved, this would represent a 43% increase between next year’s and this year’s median premium in the individual market.

Today, the Department issued guidance permitting insurers to assume the federal government will not be funding Cost Sharing Reductions (CSRs) in 2018.  In response, insurers might adjust silver level plan rates before the deadline for amending rate filings.

The New Hampshire Insurance Department has taken action in recent months to call policymakers’ and consumers’ attention to the impending rate increases and the possibility that companies might withdraw from the exchange in 2018. In June, the Legislature authorized the Department to create a market stabilization plan, and last month, the Department publicly shared its plan to reduce rates and promote stability in the individual market in 2018. Today, the Joint Health Care Reform Oversight Committee authorized the Insurance Department to pursue federal waivers in support of a market stabilization plan, but without relying on an assessment of health insurance carriers.


A completely new healthcare system for all Americans

The above press release from the NH Department of Insurance shows that our current system of private insurance is unsustainable.  A 40% increase in one year. Seriously WTF?  What we do not even know yet is how much out of pocket costs will also increase next year.  Out of pocket expenses include co-pays, co-insurance deductibles, and prescription costs.  These can cost people thousands of dollars on top of their thousands of dollars in premiums.

There is no doubt that Republicans are going to blame Democrats and President Obama for this increase while Democrats will blame Republicans for failing pass meaningful changes to the ACA to stabilize the marketplace.

But while I blame both of them for failing to do what is best for America, the majority of the blame falls directly on the private insurance corporations.  They are raking in obscene profits, continually increasing premiums to maximize their profits.  Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield reported $1 Billion in profits during the first quarter of 2016. That is a 44% increase in profits.

The corporations are shelling out hundreds of millions to lobbyists and politicians to prevent them from passing meaningful legislation that would help solve our problems.  For example, Congress has failed to pass legislation allowing medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices, which other countries do, saving them billions annually.  In 2016, the health products, insurance and pharmaceuticals industries spent a combined $400 million on their lobbying efforts.

Are you still surprised that Congress cannot pass meaningful healthcare reform?

This 40% increase combined with the insurance companies record breaking profits last year make it glaringly obvious that we need to move to a single payer system.  With a less than 2% overhead, Medicare is one of the most efficient programs in the government. With additional changes, like allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, the cost of healthcare would drop dramatically.

It is time for America to move to a national universal healthcare system. It is time for Medicare For All.

Brad Bannon: 4 Reasons Why Democrats Should Support Medicare For All

Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) call for Democrats to campaign on and fight for a national single-payer health insurance program is just the remedy the doctor ordered for her party.

Here are the four reasons for Democrats to push the envelope on health care reform.

Medicare for all is good policy

ObamaCare provided health insurance to nearly 20 million Americanswho didn’t have it, but the law still leaves 26 million out in the cold. If TrumpCare replaces ObamaCare 22 million people will be unprotected by 2026, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Medicare for all means just that. Everybody would be covered.

The only way to lower healthcare costs is to take private insurance companies and their highly paid CEOs out of the equation. Economist Robert Frank recently pointed out in the New York Times that Medicare’s administrative costs are only 2 percent of its total cost.

Administrative costs for private insurance companies are about 6 times higher.

Medicare for all is good politics

Democrats must push aggressively on issues where we have a big advantage. A survey conducted in June by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal indicates that the biggest advantage Democrats have over Republicans is on health care. Americans think Democrats do a better job on healthcare than Republicans by a margin of 43 percent to 26 percent.

President Andrew Johnson once said Washington is 12 square miles surrounded by reality.

The conventional wisdom in the swampland is that Medicare for all is a health hazard for Democrats. But a national survey last month by the Kaiser Family Foundation found American supported the expansion of government run healthcare.

So, what are Democrats afraid of anyway?

A Fight for Medicare for all Demonstrates Democratic Determination

Trump won because he sounded and acted like a bull in a china shop which is what angry voters wanted. In contrast, Democrats walk on eggshells and don’t sound angry enough to shake things up in Washington. A push for universal health insurance is a great way for Democrats to prove that they’re not intimidated by D.C. conventional wisdom and a tough fight.

Leadership means Dems need more than blind opposition to Trump.

Republicans including Trump win with all sorts of push the envelope issue stands. During the campaign last year Trump and most successful GOP candidates pushed for repeal of ACA, even though few voters wanted to destroy Obamacare.

A poll conducted for National Public Radio last month showed that only a quarter of the public favored repeal while everybody else either wanted to fix Obamacare or even extend it.

Taking unpopular stands on issues demonstrates leadership and boldness to Americans who are frustrated with the status quo. The good news for Dems is that Medicare for all is more than twice popular than Trumpcare.

Medicare for all is easy to explain

Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) was chairman of the committee that took the lead in the consideration of President Bill Clinton’s healthcare proposal. When he first saw the plan with more than a thousand pages Clinton submitted to Congress, he told his aide Lawrence O’Donnell that he could reform the healthcare system simply by deleting 3 words “65 and older” from the legislation that created Medicare health plan for seniors.

You can’t sell legislation that you can’t explain.

Medicare for all would be a lot easier to explain to the public than either Clinton’s or Obama’s Affordable Care Act. The Clinton and Obama proposals were incredibly complex. The bill the Clintons sent to Congress in 1993 clocked in more than 1,000 pages. The final version of the Affordable Care Act was 906 pages long.

In the fight for Clintoncare and Obamacare, the devil was in the details. Presidents Clinton and Obama both had a problem building support for health care reform because both proposals were so complex and difficult to explain. The lesson Dems need to take from past health initiatives is the KISS principle, keep it simple, stupid.

None of this will be easy but Dems need to get it done.

Truman proposed a health insurance program for seniors in 1945 and again in 1949. Medicare did not become law until Lyndon Johnson pushed Congress to enact it in 1965. LBJ had a big Democratic majority in Congress. Right now, Democrats are a minority in Congress.

The fierce battles over ObamaCare and Trump demonstrate that any health reform fight will be long, tough and polarizing. So, if Democrats take the time and trouble to fight, they might as well just go for the gold.

A big push for single payer health care insurance would take years but it is an opportunity Democrats can’t afford to miss and a responsibility the party can’t ignore.


Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. Campaigns and Elections magazine called him a mover and shaker in the political consulting industry. He hosts and contributes to the nationally syndicated progressive talk show, “The Leslie Marshall Show.” Bannon is also a political analyst for CLTV, the cable news station of the Chicago Tribune and WGN-TV. He is also a senior adviser to, and editor of, the blog at MyTiller.com. Contact him at brad@bannoncr.com.

Letter To Editor: March For Universal Healthcare

Submitted by Tim Butterworth, Chesterfield, NH.

The GOP has failed to find an improvement to the ACA. The Democrats aren’t even trying. It’s time for the American people to rise up and demand universal health care, and US labor should lead them.

Labor has fought for health care in the past. It’s essential for workers, but we spend so much time negotiating for the insurance companies we don’t have time left for wages. Workplace insurance ties workers to their jobs. It has hamstrung industry and makes us less competitive, tying up twice as much of our economy as most other nations. It was a winning issue in the past, and we could be a leader in fixing the current mess too.

Half of our healthcare is public now – medicare, medicaid, VA and military families, all the politicians and federal, state and municipal office workers, and the uninsured who access the emergency rooms are getting publicly-funded health care. Wrap it all in a bundle, a single plan, call it Americare, and let all people buy into it at a rate based on their income. See how many stick with their private insurance companies then, with their 15-20% administration fees and millionaire CEO’s.

Universal healthcare. It’s a simple idea: when you’re sick, you get care. Call it the “public option” for a transition away from private insurance, or medicare for all. Our two parties are failing. Labor should march into the vacuum.


(Here’s another take on this:
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/28/trumpcare-popular-universal-healthcare)


 

Bernie Sanders Releases Details and How He Plans To Pay For Medicare-For-All

Medicare-for-All Plan Detailed by Sanders, Improves Health Care and Cuts Costs

CHARLESTON, S.C. – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday detailed a Medicare-for-all plan to provide better health care for all Americans at less cost.

“Universal health care is an idea that has been supported in the United States by Democratic presidents going back to Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman,” Sanders said. “It is time for our country to join every other major industrialized nation on earth and guarantee health care to all citizens as a right, not a privilege.”

The proposal would expand Medicare, the popular and successful health care program for seniors, and build on the success of the Affordable Care Act, which Sanders helped craft. Patients would be able to choose their own doctors and receive comprehensive care for everything from hospital stays to emergency room visits to primary and specialty care.

Sanders’ Medicare-for-all plan would save $6 trillion over the next 10 years compared to the current system, according to a detailed analysis by Gerald Friedman, an economist at University of Massachusetts at Amherst who is a leading expert on health care costs.

In a nation that now spends $3 trillion a year on health care – nearly $10,000 per person – Sanders’ plan would save consumers money by eliminating expensive and wasteful private health insurance. The plan would save taxpayers money by dramatically reducing overall health care costs and bringing down skyrocketing prescription drug prices which are far greater in the United States than in any other country.

The typical family earning $50,000 a year would save nearly $6,000 annually in health care costs, Friedman calculated. The average working family now pays $4,955 in premiums for private insurance and spends another $1,318 on deductibles for care that isn’t covered. Under Sanders’ plan, a family of four earning $50,000 would pay just $466 per year to the Medicare-for-all program.

Businesses would save more than $9,400 a year in health care costs under Sanders’ plan. The average annual cost to the employer for a worker with a family who makes $50,000 a year would go from $12,591 to just $3,100.

The shift to universal health care would be paid for with a 2.2 percent health care premium (calculated under the rules for federal income taxes); a 6.2 percent health care payroll tax paid by employers; an estate tax on the wealthiest Americans and changes in the tax code to make federal income tax rates more progressive.

Under the plan, individuals making $250,000 to $500,000 a year would be taxed at a rate of 37 percent. The top rate, 52 percent, would apply to those earning $10 million or more a year, a category that in 2013 included only the 13,000 wealthiest households in the United States.

Additional savings would be achieved from reducing outlays for taxpayer-supported health care expenditures.

Sanders laid out his health care plan and progressive tax reform proposals here in South Carolina where he and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley were to take part on Sunday night in a nationally televised debate in their contest for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.

To read more about Sanders’ Medicare-for-all plan and his progressive tax proposals, click here.

To read Professor Gerald Friedman’s analysis of Sanders’ plan, click here.


UPDATED WITH STATEMENT FROM HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN

Hillary for America spokesman Brian Fallon released the following statement:

“Senator Sanders has been changing a lot of positions in the last 24 hours because when his plans and record come under scrutiny, their very real flaws get exposed. After digging in his heels for weeks, he backpedaled on his vote to give sweeping immunity to gun manufacturers and dealers. And after weeks of denying the legitimacy of the questions Hillary Clinton raised about flaws in the health care legislation he’s introduced 9 times over 20 years, he proposed a new plan two hours before the debate. Hillary Clinton knows what it takes, and has what it takes, to protect the gains of the Affordable Care Act and secure quality, affordable health care for all Americans. When you’re running for President and you’re serious about getting results for the American people, details matter—and Senator Sanders is making them up as he goes along.”

The Solution To All Our Healthcare Problems Including Those At The VA

medicare-for-allFor decades now labor unions have been fighting the rising healthcare costs and taking concessions in their contracts to keep healthcare costs in check. Many have agreed to freeze wages and in trade the employer would freeze the rates of their healthcare plans.

This problem has only gotten more complex now that the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare has been rolled out. The ACA is an issue that has divided people within the political parties and is dividing the labor movement as well. Some labor unions, like Unite Here and LiUNA, oppose the ACA because it does not have provisions for organizations like labor unions that provide their own healthcare plans. Other unions like the SEIU, who represent workers at all wage levels, have been pushing for the ACA from the beginning.

Here is the one thing they all can agree on, the ACA does not go far enough to fix the healthcare problem in this country. We want what is best for all Americans and is the most fiscally responsible program for all Americans. The solution to both is a national single payer system, and we already have one for those over 65.

Single Payer Healthcare Medicare For AllAll we need to do is dump the private insurance program completely. Stop giving our tax dollars to greedy corporations who are collecting 20% profit on every bill they collect. If we expand Medicare to cover people from birth to death, we could save the federal government upwards of $400 billion dollars a year.

If you go back to look at the “unions who are opposing the ACA” you will see that it is not that they do not want a national healthcare system, but they have been calling for a single payer system from the beginning.

Check out this short video of “Greg Junemann, President of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers and AFL-CIO Executive Council member, explains how health insurance corporations are inherently designed to deny healthcare…and why Americans are losing access to healthcare as a right.”

Then you can decide which plan you think would be better for All Americans?

There is one more thing to note about a single payer healthcare program, it is what the VA health system is based on.  There is massive outrage from both political parties about how our veterans are being treated.  Everyone loves the VA healthcare system — some choose not to fund it properly — but they all love the VA healthcare system, and are outraged when Veterans have problems that are minor in comparison to what regular Americans are going through every day with private healthcare providers.

The way to fix the VA wait times problems, and hospital backlogs, is to push a national single payer system that would allow vets (and everyone else) to go to any hospital, any doctor, to get treatment.

You like your doctor? They are covered. You like your hospital? It is covered.  Worried that the insurance company is going to cut your services or cancel your policy? Have no fear because there are no health insurance companies making decisions about care based on profit margins.

Why is the system that we use for our veterans not good enough for the rest of us? 

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