Why We Desperately Need, and Can Absolutely Afford, Medicare For All

 National Nurses United/flickr/cc)

As a new interactive tool "paints a startling picture of how much Americans are spending on healthcare"—and bolsters the case for a single-payer system—new reporting sheds light on a powerful industry effort to make sure upcoming Medicare for All proposals are dead in the water.

As the New York Times lays out,

Doctors, hospitals, drug companies, and insurers are intent on strangling Medicare for All before it advances from an aspirational slogan to a legislative agenda item. They have hired a top lieutenant in Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign to spearhead the effort. And their tactics will show Democrats what they are up against as the party drifts to the left on healthcare.

They've recently joined to form the Partnership for America's Health Care Future (PAHCF), with Lauren Crawford Shaver, a veteran of Clinton's 2016 campaign, at the helm. Politico previously reported on the coalition, as did The Intercept.

The group's focus is not on extending healthcare to all Americans but keeping the Affordable Care Act, and with members including powerful groups like the American Medical Association, Federation of American Hospitals, PhRMA, and HCA, PAHCF's "reach is undeniable," as the Times notes. Seeing legislative proposals, such as Rep. Pramila Jayapal's (D-Wash.) Medicare for All Act, fast approaching, the group is ready to "step up the tempo," the Times reports.

Indeed, last week, it announced a six-figure digital campaign "to inform the American public about ways to protect and strengthen our nation's existing healthcare system, while warning them that a one-size-fits-all health care program—whether called Medicare for All, Medicare buy-in, single-payer or public option, will lead to higher taxes and less patient choice for every American family." A recent analysis, however, showed that a single-payer system would slash healthcare costs, boost systemic efficiency, and expand coverage.

The coalition had similar remarks in reaction to Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I-Vt.) 2020 presidential campaign announcement, asserting that the American public doesn't back his long-championed Medicare for All system. Recent polling indicates that, in fact, most Americans do.

The new reporting in the Times comes days after the Kaiser Family Foundation released a "Household Health Spending Calculator." Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) reacted to the tool in a six-part Twitter thread, writing that while "as bad as this household health spending calculator makes things look, just remember...the complete picture is even worse."

"These outrageous costs are why we desperately need, and can absolutely afford, #SinglePayer," the group said. "Improved #MedicareForAll would reduce health spending for everyone but the very wealthiest Americans, and would improve coverage to boot. What are we waiting for?"

PNHP's new president, Dr. Adam Gaffney, recently acknowledged the deep-pocket forces at work to kill Medicare for All.

"The industry is not going to go down without a fight," he told Common Dreams's Michael Winship. "Obviously, they're going to pour money into Washington, they're going to pour money into lobbying, they're going to pour money into candidates, they're going to take out ads, they're going to smear it left and right, so our work is cut out for us."

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