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National Medicare for All campaign

We have been working this past year to get congress and the white house to include single payer/medicare for all in the debate. Our voices have been excluded. It is clear that we will need to create a social movement and elect people who will stand up for Medicare for All. I welcome your ideas on this and I am happy to answer questions about what has been happening in health care reform this past year.

sorry for being late - i'm new to this!
margaret

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BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

I agree with you on the need for a social movement. My question is what can I do in my community to help build one.

"Do what you feel in your heart to be right -- for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do, and damned if you don't. " - Eleanor Roosevelt

Submitted by lambert on

Can you talk more about the "social movement" aspect of Medicare for All?

NOTE You can reply to comments, rather than add more material to the post. Let me Preview and Submit this... Then look for the button...

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by margaret_flowers on

Our first steps are to create an organizing structure (the district leaders) and get more funding for the campaign. Then the groups in each district will reach out to other organizations/groups in their area to educate them about single payer and broaden our grassroots base. We need to reach out to all sorts of groups that have not joined the single payer movement. Our experience this year has been that most people support single payer once they understand what it is. There will be monthly actions in each district coordinated at the national level but involving enough flexibility that each district can act in a way that works best for them. In addition to educating and outreach, the congressional district groups will be expected to build relationships with their legislators - to support those legislators that support single payer, to pressure those who don't or run candidates that do support.
We need a massive visibility in the street but we don;t have enough people organized and activated to do this yet.

Margaret Flowers, M.D.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Dr. Flowers, thank you and Dr. Paris for your truly inspiring actions!

This past year, the ill-defined and ever-shrinking "public option" notion almost completely dominated left-of-center discussion and activism on healthcare reform.

Top blogs, advocacy groups like MoveOn, and many celebrities enshrined "public option" as the supposed HCR holy grail.

Yet they couldn't, or wouldn't, answer the simplest questions -- like how a plan that President Obama promised would be used by less than 5% of Americans would (hard to type this with a straight face) "help keep insurance companies honest."

Do you have any thoughts on:

* How "public option" became the dominant left-side talking point?
* How much damage this distraction has caused?
* What might be done to educate people on the difference between advocating for the whatever-it-is "public option" and advocating for single-payer Medicare for All?

Again, my profound thanks for your brave and brilliant advocacy!

Submitted by margaret_flowers on

For now I recommend visiting the www.healthcare-now.org website. Contact them to find out if there is a group near you that is already working on single payer. If not, healthcare-now can help you start one.
This month we are rolling out a pilot training to create single payer district leaders who will be active in every congressional district across the country. It is a 6 hour workshop with materials that you can take home. There will be monthly actions. If all goes well, we will make this available to other states/regions to use. Ours is going to be in Maryland.

Margaret Flowers, M.D.

Submitted by margaret_flowers on

We will try to videotape the one this month and hopefully we can have the matrials available on healthcare-now.org or the new MFA campaign website (to be launched soon). There is a teach-in on the healthcare-now website already.

Margaret Flowers, M.D.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

It's good to hear that there's a plan being developed to build a stronger, broader movement.

I'm largely on the outside looking in, but it seems like the longer the healthcare debate has gone on, the stronger the single payer movement has become, even as DC and the media deny it oxygen, is that how it feels to you on the inside?

Also, what happens next? Do we move to the states or keep pressing nationally? Or both?

"Do what you feel in your heart to be right -- for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do, and damned if you don't. " - Eleanor Roosevelt

Submitted by margaret_flowers on

In some ways we were anticipating the meltdown of the health reform process in DC and were hoping that our movement could step in and fill the void. That time seems to be now.
We were concerned in Dec that people were getting tired of health reform and were getting disappointed and demotivated. However, we have seen the exact opposite. People are energized and doing things all across the country. Energy is high!
I think we need to try to keep the Medicare for All message out there as much as we can until congress either passes health legislation or decides to drop it. We need to keep riding the media wave while they are still talking about health (not that we get a lot of national media but we are trying and there are a lot of smaller media outlets that cover us). I would love to see people popping up all over the place at political events with the Medicare for All message.
As far as state actions, these are very important. It is possible that single payer will be implemented at the state level first.
We are planning to support both the national campaign and the state efforts. They are complementary.

Margaret Flowers, M.D.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

I assume the movement regroups and continues. If anything, a bad healthcare bill (and those are the only ones on offer right now) should - in the long run - energize the call for Medicare for All. The issue is how to keep the movement going in the short run, at least that's how it seems to me.

"Do what you feel in your heart to be right -- for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do, and damned if you don't. " - Eleanor Roosevelt

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

The bills they've been considering put off much of what they're calling "reform" for 3 or 4 years. This may have the effect of freezing efforts at reform between now and then.

Submitted by margaret_flowers on

No matter what happens in congress, we will continue to organize and press forward with the MFA campaign. If they pass something and start calling it a "great success!" then we will have the job of explaining why it is not. I know that Wendell Potter at the Center for Media and Democracy will work to expose the ways insurance cos game whatever passes.

Margaret Flowers, M.D.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Recently Jane Hamsher ar Firedog Lake seems to have moderated her tone about Medicare for All and is also less vigorous in criticizing some of its advocates at FDL.There also seems to be less push for the PO there and more blogs asking for expansion of Medicare and Medicaid using reconciliation. Have you had any conversations or negotiations with Jane suggesting that she might be planning to come over to the Medicare for All side of things?

Submitted by margaret_flowers on

I did meet with Jane last November in DC. She started doing some work to assist single payer candidates through her blog and actblue. I have to be careful about being too closely involved with that because pnhp is a 501c3 and I can't be seen as supporting candidates as a representative of pnhp. I haven't kept up with Jane to see where she is. Progressive Dems of America is pretty involved in supporting SP candidates.

Margaret Flowers, M.D.

Submitted by Anne on

process stretching out for so long, I think it has been the ability to educate people better about what is actually in the legislation, and at the same time, contrast that with what a single-payer/Medicare-For All system would mean.

When you tell people that the legislation, as it currently exists, is all about making sure people have insurance, and less about what that insurance would cover and what it would cost, it makes them start to think about it all in a much different light. Everyone knows someone who needs health care, and we all know people who, even though they have insurance, still cannot afford the care they need. When people realize that this legislation is not going to significantly change that dynamic, the questions come fast and furious - as does the anger.

My concern lately has been that the laid-back attitude of the president may be designed to slow and even stop both the conversation and the media coverage of this issue, allowing something to happen pretty much out of the public eye (for someone who promised so much transparency, he really seems to like opacity a whole lot better), that is going to result in the worst possible outcome - that will then be heralded as historic.

Bill Moyers has done a great job giving a platform to single-payer advocates, and your interview with him was as great as I expected it to be; it inspires me to keep talking to the people I encounter and encouraging them to call, write, fax and e-mails their representatives and Senators.

Thank you for all you do and especially for taking the time to be here today!

Submitted by hipparchia on

My concern lately has been that the laid-back attitude of the president may be designed to slow and even stop both the conversation and the media coverage of this issue, allowing something to happen pretty much out of the public eye

we're definitely going to have keep doing what we can to raise the profile of single payer.

Submitted by margaret_flowers on

Thank you for your kind words. I agree with you that the long process has helped people to be more aware of the problems with the legislation.
As far as the president, most of this process has been driven by the white house. This is why I believe that the pressure must be on the white house right now. The president had many opportunities to include single payer in the discussion but it became very clear that he wanted to completely exclude us out of fear that people would call congress' plan socialized medicine and government run health care. No surprise that it happened anyway.
We've tried to show him that the grassroots exists to support single payer. It would have been nice if they had reached out to us in any small way.There is a group now on facebook that is considering publicly asking the president to debate me on the mrits of single payer. I don't think it's likely to happen. What do you think about this approach?

Margaret Flowers, M.D.

Submitted by lambert on

After all... What is there to be afraid of?

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by Anne on

interview was your discussion about how all of this has been driven from the Oval Office; I think that is an element of this that has been purposely kept out of the media conversation, with the result that too many people think Congress is solely to blame for the shape reform is taking, and not the president.

In a debate on health care and reform, I'm inclined to think you would wipe the floor with the president, and I suspect he knows that, and that's why it's not likely to happen.

That being said, I think it would be easy enough to take take specifics of what Obama has said, including some of his explanations for why single-payer is not practical or, "uniquely American" enough, and cut a video with you responding as if you were having a debate. Nothing out of context, nothing unfair, just what he's said versus what I like to think of as the truth.

The one thing I keep stressing to people is that as long as the focus is on insurance and not care, the chances for meaningful reform, or movement to a single-payer system, are quite small. And that if they believe their representatives - and the president - understand the crisis in CARE, they would not have crafted legislation that will take years to even begin.

Submitted by margaret_flowers on

I absolutely love the idea of making a mock video debate! I will share it with others.

You are right about stressing care over insurance. That is an educational point that we have been trying to make - that having insurance doesn't mean you'll get care and that insurance is not protective when you become ill in this country. That was the purpose of the study looking at medical bankruptcy.

Insurance is a poor model for financing health care. In most instances insurance is something people buy and hope not to need to use (think car, house, disability ins). But everybody needs health care throughout their life, and the fewer barriers there are to getting care, the more likely it is that people will get care early and when they need it so they will be healthier and have better outcomes. We need a health care system that covers everybody, not insurance. And the beauty is that such a system will improve the health of our population and save money.

Margaret Flowers, M.D.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

A large group on Facebook could help get Press Coverage, so the approach may be worthwhile.

Submitted by margaret_flowers on

You are correct that the public option was a huge distraction which split the single payer supporters. The damage was tremendous. Imagine how far the single payer movement could have come if we had the resources that the public option groups had. We came pretty far simply with the energy and passion of our grassroots base.

As to why this was done, we can only wonder. It was decided by the Democratic party early on that they thought introducing a pubilc option was the closest they could get to health reform. This was done out of fear of the health industries. They wanted to avoid the problems that occurred in the 90's.

Unfortunately, the same thing has happened. They made some major miscalculations such as thinking that if they included the industries in the discussion that the industries would be willing to compromise - they weren't. They also started their negotuations from their compromise position so that the result was even less than they were hoping to settle for.

At this point we are reaching out to the groups who supported the public option and inviting them to join the national Medicare for All campaign because we don't compromise! We stand by our beliefs. You can find info that compares single payer and the public option at pnhp.org and healthcare-now.org.

Margaret Flowers, M.D.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

to answer questions. It's a real pleasure to have the opportunity to "speak" with you.

My question has to do with creating the movement you speak of. It seems to me that there is a huge opportunity for Medicare-for-All activists to partner with pro-choice activists today, especially after we saw that the Democrats could not bring themselves to create health care legislation without adding draconian restrictions to women's access to reproductive health care.

The excuse that anti-abortion Congressmen like Bart Stupak and Ben Nelson will give for adding these restrictions to a health care bill, is that the Hyde Amendment prohibits federal funding for abortions.

Is there a push within the single-payer movement to join with organizations like NARAL, RH Reality Check and NOW to help overturn the Hyde Amendment in order to make federal funding of abortions a reality? I feel that if this issue of women's reproductive health is not embraced and dealt with by single-payer activists, then the anti-abortion forces will always be able to use Hyde as an excuse to block Medicare for All.

Never vote for people who hate you.

ERA Now!

The Widdershins

Submitted by margaret_flowers on

Yes in some ways. NOW came out at the national level in support of single payer. Katie Robbins of Healthcare-now published an article in support of the prochoice movement and posted their events on the website. We hope to do more outreach.

Margaret Flowers, M.D.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

Pro-choice women, especially Democrats, are without a Party right now. We need someplace to call home, and I think that if these organizations join forces, you may have the structure you need to expand your reach exponentially.

The Women's Media Center could be another great ally. They got more than 220,000 signatures on their petition against Pam Tebow's anti-abortion ad.

http://www.notunderthebus.com/?gclid=CPm...

Never vote for people who hate you.

ERA Now!

The Widdershins

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

I've dedicated myself to playing "whack-a-mole" with "public option" every chance I get.

It's unbelievable how often someone will say, "we need real health reform... the 'public option,'" and I have to take them by the hand and explain what a nothingburger bait-and-switch it is. Stuff from PNHP is a helpful part of that!

All the influential people have told them that "public option" is where it's at, and it's awfully hard for them to realize they've been gamed or confused.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Thanks for all you've done to build the Medicare for All Movement. I'm Joe Firestone and we met briefly at the Mad As Hell Doctors rally in DC in early October. I was with a few people who blog occasionally at Firedog Lake, and we dragooned the Doctors group into taking some pictures with us outside the White House gates. Here's a post I did on the event.

I saw that magnificent interview you gave to Bill Moyers a few days back, and thought the tone and your presentation was pitch perfect. It's very, very hard to believe that single-payer folks are nuts when we have interviews like that to present in our defense. So, I thinks you for that and for your continuing commitment to Medicare for All.

My question relates to the current political situation in hcr. The people who advocated for the public option and who did so much to cut us out of the process, have now themselves been defeated whether or not they are able to pass a token PO reform bill. So, this would seem to present an opportunity to get Medicare for All seriously discussed. But how can w get around the inevitable efforts of the PO advocates to continue to push their agenda and to keep Medicare for All "off the table?"

Submitted by margaret_flowers on

Thank you for coming to the MAHD event in Oct (even in the rain).

We are hearing a lot of grumbling and disappointment from those who supported the public option groups. They feel sold out and they were. this is why this is absolutely the time to reach out and let them know that fighting for half measures and compromising your fundamental principles away is not the right approach. We need to let them know that the single payer movement is strong and growing. We need to welcome them to our efforts.

And I really wonder what will happen to those organizations who pushed for the PO. They may simply disappear.

Labor was a big supporter of the PO movement. The AFL-CIO passed a resolution in support of single payer at their national convention in Sept. Now many groups in Labor for Single Payer are pushing them to live up to that resolution and develop a national campaign alongside or as part of the national MFA campaign. There are hundred of local labor groups and councils that support SP and they can be mobilized.

Margaret Flowers, M.D.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Thanks for your perspective. I also have the feeling that people are disillusioned with the PO. If these awful bills had been clearly defeated by now, perhaps some of the groups that had supported the PO such as Move-on might be brought back to SP, since their memberships are probably not at all Happy. HCAN however, is a problem because of their ideological commitment to the PO idea, and their role in making things difficult for Medicare for All. Democracy for America is run by Howard Dean's brother, and Howard Dean himself had said many times that's he's opposed to SP. In any event these organizations still have a lot of money and will be influential in muddying the water about hcr.

I think Medicare for All could use other Senators apart from Bernie Sanders to plead its case in the Senate. Do you know which Senators besides Bernie are sympathetic and might come out in the open?

Submitted by margaret_flowers on

I'm not sure what HCAN is going to do next. I know they are closig up shop in some areas of the country.
As far as more Senators, I agree. So far our other strong supporters are Sherrod Brown and Burris. In addition, Senators Harkin (now the head of the HELP committee) and Merkley voted for the state single payer bill. We hope that others such as Feingold would also support. There are senate candidates running on single payer platforms such as Dr. Daniel Freilich in VT (v. Leahy).

Margaret Flowers, M.D.

Submitted by lambert on
... on the civil disobedience experience? I've never been arrested, for example. What's it like? From the street to the police station to Bill Moyers... What are the transitions there? (And what was Bill Moyers like? If I hadn't been so consumed with connectivity issues, I'd have run the "And NOW!!!! Direct from Bill Moyers, Doctor. Margaret. FLOWERS!!!!" But I didn't get to do that.)

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by margaret_flowers on

Carol Paris wrote a really nice piece about the civil disobedience experience which is posted on the pnhp.org website and other places on the web.
My first time getting arrested was very scary but I was with people who had done it before which helped. It's mostly fear of the unknown.
For me, once I made the commitment that this was what needed to be done and that I was going to do it, I just went with it. Those of us in the Baucus 8 spoke and met beforehand so that we knew what we were going to do. So I just concentrated on that. We were arrested by the Capitol Police, handcuffed and taken t Homeland Security. They took all of our belongings away and handcuffed us to the wall. It was very cold! At one point we were allowed to be in a cell - the 4 women together - and that was nice to be able to move around. We were released after about 7 or 8 hours and we were mostly hungry and thirsty.
The second time I was in Baltimore (last Oct) and we were taken to Central Booking, which was a very unpleasant experience, for 12 hours. But we survived it. I was worried because I was violating my probation and I thought they would keep me but they didn't.
And last week we were worried because of the secret service. The police took us down to the station and then we were questioned by secret service but it wasn't too bad and they released us with a ticket.
I just realize that once I make the commitmen, I turn myself over to the experience and just take it as it comes. In some ways it is a powerful and liberating experience to feel that you are standing up for something that you believe in. So many others have done the same thing.

Margaret Flowers, M.D.

Submitted by hipparchia on

holy cow!

thank you for doing this. watching the video of the baucus 8 in action totally re-inspired me at a time when i thought things were looking pretty bleak for single payer advocacy.

Submitted by lambert on

That showed me that all this was real.

And the complete and total silence in Versailles and on the front pages of the access blogs made me even more sure. You don't suppress what you're not worried about...

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by margaret_flowers on

Being on Bill Moyers came as a huge surprise. Our friend, Bill Hughes came down to Baltimore to video our action and he out it on youtube. Apparently Mr. Moyers saw the video and so Monday morning he asked his staff to call us. They did and said they might invite us on. Then it looked like it wouldn't happen so I went on with making plans for the rest of the week. On Tues pm they asked if I could come to NY on Wed night to tape on Thurs, so I did. Mr. Moyers is amazing - very intelligent and kind. His entire staff made me feel very welcome. I was pretty nervous but they did their best to make me comfortable. I have such respect for Mr. Moyer. He is a man of integrity.

Margaret Flowers, M.D.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Moyers was a key person in Lyndon Johnson's Great Society program and has been trying to extend Medicare ever since.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

I was curious as to whether class has played any role, in your opinion, on the divide between PO and Medicare for All advocates. It seems like a lot of the "progressive" leaders advocating for PO have health insurance and are generally fairly well of (relatively speaking), making it easier for them to agree to compromise in the name of "political reality". Whereas a lot of the activists for Medicare for All are doctors and people who need the government to work for them (either they lack health insurance, struggle with the payments, or fear losing their jobs and access to it). Is that your sense, too?

"Do what you feel in your heart to be right -- for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do, and damned if you don't. " - Eleanor Roosevelt

Submitted by margaret_flowers on

I would agree with you on this. At least for the unions, like SEIU, the decision was made by those at the top to support PO while those in the locals support SP.

We need to bring more groups into the movement who are being hurt by the current situation and who feel that they lack a political voice. There was a group started in DC this past year called CUUSP (coalition of the uninsured and underinsured for single payer). It wuold be great to have more CUUSP groups all around the country.

Part of our goal in the new campaign is to develop multilingual materials to reach out to immigrant populations.

Margaret Flowers, M.D.

Submitted by lambert on

... they really know how to organized. (I'm sure having their own media helps.)

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

dblhelix's picture
Submitted by dblhelix on

Steny Hoyer's office has been most unhelpful -- not able to answer even the most simple questions regarding hcr.

I'm wondering if there's been any outreach to groups like Healthy Howard. I exchanged a few emails w/ Beilenson, and my impression is that he's a strong supporter of the current legislation.

My understanding is that MD has been exploring a MA-like model as well, prior to the current efforts. I assume that if the fed legislation dies on the vine, MD goes back to looking at this type of model for state-level efforts. Is that your impression? How to counter?

As you know, MD has a high-risk pool as a form of guaranteed issue. According to my research -- it is one of the more affordable models nationwide, if not the most affordable. In discussions w/ legislators and other interested parties in the state, what is the counter-argument to expanding on the high-risk pool concept?

Finally, how do you think SP advocay will be received in a state w/ so many FEHBP employees? I have found it difficult to even strike up interest in hcr in my neighborhood due to complacency of gov employees!

Thanks and hope to meet you sometime.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

I'm one and I work with several others who are Medicare for All advocates. A lot of it, I think, depends on whether they know people who are affected by the healthcare crisis or whether they themselves have been screwed over by their health insurer (yes, even with our "great" govt. health insurance, we still can - and do - get denied care). Nevertheless, I think there's always a challenge in reaching out to people who are lucky enough to be in a position to not have the problem affect them every day.

"Do what you feel in your heart to be right -- for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do, and damned if you don't. " - Eleanor Roosevelt

Submitted by margaret_flowers on

Hello to the person from MD-05. Dr. Paris is from Leonardtown.

We reached out to Hoyers' office early last year. We met with him in Feb. However, as our movement became stronger, they became less and less responsive to us.

I know Dr. Beilenson and he is a SP supporter at heart. I hope he will become more active as he sees our campaign grow.

There is a group in MD that is pushing a MA style plan. We also have a SP bill in the state legislature called the Maryland Health Security Act. I wrote it with input from a few focus groups and from looking at other state leg. The MD HSA was dropped" last week and should have a bill number soon. We have at least 12/47 co-sponsors in the senate and 30+/141 co-sponsors in the house. There is a lot of inertia right now because the state is waiting to see what the feds are doing.

We are currently fundraising to get an economic impact study of our state single payer bill and that will help us. Many legislators were very interested in the savings to the state because of the budget crisis. As far as having people in FEHBP - they can keep that if they are employed out of state. And as far as the high risk pool - I still have so many people coming to me with the difficulties they face using it. It is still private insurance and so they constantly struggle to get their care approved and paid for.

Margaret Flowers, M.D.

Submitted by lambert on

If so, all it would take would be one....

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by margaret_flowers on

There is some talk of having a regional conference to get a group of states together to help each other pass single payer bills that could develop into a regional single payer system. I hope this effort happens and will do what I can to facilitate it.

Margaret Flowers, M.D.

Submitted by margaret_flowers on

I hope that you will come to our Single Payer District Leadership Training in Columbia on Feb 20th. You can learn more at www.md.pnhp.org. If so, I'll see you there!

Margaret Flowers, M.D.

Submitted by lambert on

This is good to see!

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by gmanedit on

have an active self-interest, in not being forced into group practices/HMOs ("medical homes") that would limit their ability to practice medicine as they see fit—putting a financial obligation to the other doctors (the company's bottom line) ahead of their medical obligation to their patients. It would be the end of private practice.

Submitted by margaret_flowers on

I don't feel comfortable that I have enough knowledge to comment on doctors' opposition to medical homes.
I can tell you from my dealings in the state medical society that many of the doctors there put their income as a top priority. This is why the only people you see at their meetings tend to be older docs and specialists. The AMA represents a minority of practicing docs and is hopefully dying out.
Private practice, especially for primary care, is already dying out. Primary care doctors have a very hard time making it in this current environment. The majority of them support single payer. I hope that more docs will return to practice if we pass SP, I know that I plan to.
The docs I talk to want to be able to focus on the needs of their patients and to have adequate time with patients. We really need to change reimbursement so that doctors are paid to spend time with patients, rather than churnng through a lot of patients or doing a lot of procedures.

Margaret Flowers, M.D.

ralphbon's picture
Submitted by ralphbon on

Margaret, I had the pleasure of hearing you speak at the Washington rallies in May, July, and (with Joe, up-thread) September.

If you have time to respond, what's the current strategy with the Kucinich amendment? I was frustrated that the major SP orgs seemed to stress the Weiner and Sanders efforts -- historic but quixotic -- to the exclusion of a full-court press on an ERISA waiver (which actually passed in one House committee, with bipartisan support).

What's the plan now? Still push for a Kucinich amendment inside whatever abominable legislation, if any, emerges? Push for a free-standing ERISA waiver bill? Shelve the issue and plan to fight ERISA-based lawsuits in PA and CA, if they pass their SP bills?

With great admiration,
Ralph

Submitted by margaret_flowers on

There are groups, like PDA, that have been pushing to get the Kucinich language back in the final bill in the House. The Senate bill has language that will help states, but it is anybody's guess whether that will stay in. There have been freestanding bills that address these concerns before and so that may be the way to go from here. The CA bill is likely to be vetoed this time (as it has the past 2 times). The PA folks seem to feel that their bill was crafted in a way to avoid ERISA challenges but I don't know the specifics yet on that.
One of the reasons that we supported Weiner/Sanders amendments was to get members on the record as voting for sp or not to guide us for electoral efforts.

Margaret Flowers, M.D.

Submitted by hipparchia on

it depends on whose involvement you want.

the kucinich amendment was an important, but obscure, detail that only wonks could love.

getting a floor vote on medicare for all is probably the only way you'll ever galvanize the public.

Submitted by lambert on

.... from the "public option"?

I realize that "decontaminate" is tendentious...

I don't have a lot of sympathy for the organizers of the effort, but I have a lot of sympathy for the trusting souls who believed in it.* What's the best way to pull up the public option weed without disturbing the roots?

NOTE This is distinct from any state level efforts, as in VT. That's a different kettle of fish institutionally and politically.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Decontaminate is right. Let;s try to convince the Democrats that they can't have HCR without a clear and simple message and that's Everybody In, Nobody Out!

Submitted by margaret_flowers on

PNHP and healthcare-now will have materials available to educate people about whatever (if) passes in congress this year. For example, PNHP will have a powerpoint presentation that can be used to give Grand Rounds at hospitals but could be modified for other groups as well.

Margaret Flowers, M.D.

Submitted by lambert on

... if your tech people can do this, please make sure that everything is accessible on the web as an HTML page, and not just in PowerPoint. Makes it much more accessible, can be searched, no barrier to people who don't have the software, etc.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by hipparchia on

i like it for printing materials to hand out to people. if you're talking to people face-to-face, computers aren't always handy. i've printed out powerpoint slides that had been made into pdf files first and used those for handouts too.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

looks like a great discussion without me. Any plans to expand your online out reach?

Have you read ntoddpax's post about boycotting cable TV, dropping the service in protest of unfair coverage? I am looking around for the link, but coming up empty.

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Submitted by letsgetitdone on

“Deficit hawkism” is the ideology that prioritizes bringing tax revenues and Government expenditures into balance ahead of other far more essential national needs and priorities. Right now, deficit hawkism is becoming increasingly prevalent, and its expressions very strident. It's not limited to Republicans, but is bipartisan. It is not limited to blue dog Democrats, but is also espoused by some, like Senator Russ Feingold, who have unquestioned, and well-earned, progressive credentials.

Analyses showing how much money can be saved by Medicare for All, focus on savings per year in health care expenditures from the viewpoint of society, but from the viewpoint of Government expenditures, Medicare for All requires an increase, which, coupled with their opposition to higher taxes on the more well-off, results in heavy opposition to MFA from deficit hawks and many others concerned with "balanced budgets."

Don't Medicare for All advocates have to work against deficit hawkism also if we're going to get MFA passed? And how can we do that without attacking the Administration's increasingly strident commitment to "financial responsibility?"

There is a new school of economics called Modern Monetary Theory sometimes called Chartalism. This school views the Government as a monopolist in relation to its currency. MMT also points out that since the US went off the gold standard in the 1970s, it has lived with a fiat monetary system. It further points out that the Government can create as much fiat money as it wants to without going broke, and that it is in no way limited by either tax revenues or loans in the amount of money it can spend for valued goods and services. My question is: Can we use the findings of MMT about "Myths, Scares, Lies, and Deadly Innocent Frauds" to strengthen our political position in advocating for MFA?

Submitted by margaret_flowers on

I will have to look into that because I am not an economist. I can bring it up with others.

One concern with having the CBO score single payer is that they only look at federal spending which will increase with SP. (This is why they can look at their proposed leg and say that it is deficit neutral because they don't look at the added costs for individuals, etc.) If you look at single payer from a systems standpoint, you see that overall health care costs will be controlled and reduced and the economic impact on families and businesses and the economy will be positive. We have economists who can do this and hopefully we can raise money to do such a study at the national level.

Margaret Flowers, M.D.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

I've been dissatisfied with the estimates on how much SP would save for some time. I attempted to get a better estimate myself some time ago, but it was too much off the top of my head. Here's the link to it and the FDL discussion.

Even if we had a good estimate of what SP would save, and for the sake of argument let's say that figure was $7 Trillion over 10 years. The opposition would still argue that the Government can't afford to implement the program and save that money because it can't raise the taxes or borrow the money to do it. So, I think we're going to need a way around that.

You've said that the President was to blame for taking Medicare for All "off the table," because he didn't want to fight the socialism/Government takeover of health care battle, and I agree. But I also think that another reason why he took it off the table is that he wanted to spend an average of $90 - 100 B per year over 10 years on hcr, and he knew that SP would cost many times that, and since he believed in "financial responsibility," and the Government's inability to pay for it, he took it off the table.

I think the President's views on economics are fairly Hooverian, and that we need another economic outlook to counter that.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Thanks you Margaret. It was a pleasure to exchange with you.

Submitted by margaret_flowers on

Thank you everybody. Great questions and energy! I hope we can talk again.
Good-bye! Onward to single payer/Medicare for All!

Margaret Flowers, M.D.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Keep on rockin' in the free world! In between arrests, that is. :v)

Truly, you're an inspiration to us all!

Submitted by lambert on

... and if some kind person wanted to summarize actions to take and stories to watch, that would be great, since I'm going to be under the gun for a couple of days. This thread is so rich, and I hate to think of any of it being lost....

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi