Congress has Single Payer Health Insurance —Why Don’t You?

Office of Attending Physicians

What turns Congress members on? First and foremost, keeping their jobs. In service to this goal, at election time, they declare their fealty to the interests of the people they are supposed to serve. Once in office, their gaze turns inward. Exhibit A —members-only health care located in an unpublicized Office of the Attending Physician (OAP). Denounced as “socialized medicine” when the American people demand it, Medicare-for-all is alive and well for members of Congress. The Office of the Attending Physician (OAP) provides virtually free primary care services to each member of Congress. If you want to know who’s paying for it, look in the mirror. The taxes we pay that Congress and a succession of presidents keep telling us won’t be enough to fund universal Medicare-for-All are enough to subsidize first class healthcare — restricted to members. What’s wrong with this picture? SA has some possible answers in “Congress Has Single Payer Healthcare — Why Don’t You?

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Drug Company Rip Off Amidst the Suffering and Dying

Human Need

The big drug rip-off is coming. Gilead’s drug remdesivir is being hailed as the “new standard of care. “ (Dr. Anthony Fauci ). The honchos at the drug company are agog with excitement. To throw sick Americans a lifeline? Not exactly. To introduce a billion-dollar blockbuster? More likely. Predictably, President’s Trumps scientific advisory committee is all in. Isn’t that what friends are for? First developed to treat Ebola, remdesivir flopped. But not to worry, the feds had contributed $79 million to R&D on the drug, so investors were spared most of the pain. As the coronavirus pandemic surged worldwide, Gilead bet on the same horse, hauling remdesivir out of the closet — new disease, same drug. It flopped again — “remdesivir did not improve patients’ condition or reduce the pathogen’s presence in the bloodstream…The drug also showed significant side effects in some, which meant 18 patients were taken off it. (“Gilead’s anti-viral drug, remdesivir, flops in first trial,” Financial Times, April 23, 2020.) At least, transparency prevailed and consumers around the world were among the first to know. Not exactly. These results were accidentally released by the World Health Organization, which quickly tried to put the genie back in the bottle — “…a draft document [of the failed study was] inadvertently posted on the website and taken down as soon as the mistake was noted.” There you have it — a history of repeated failures that should have diminished expectations among U.S. infectious disease experts. Why didn’t it? Read “Drug Company Rip Off Amidst the Suffering and Dying” for even more evidence that profit trumps care in the U.S. privatized health care system.

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It Takes a Pandemic to Expose a Corrupt U.S. Healthcare System

Healthcare Corruption

Most agree that the privatized U.S. healthcare system does not cut it when a virus becomes a pandemic. Whether it’s health insurance flunkies trying to keep the music going while 26 million+ lose their jobs and their health insurance or drug company chieftains competing to make billions by discovering a vaccine or nursing home private operators unable or unwilling to protect the vulnerable populations that depend on them or hospital big wigs practicing “just-in-time” ordering of life-saving supplies to increase profits while their workers are drowning in a sea of sick and dying patients. In a privatized healthcare system operating on free market principles, long term thinking flies out the window. Short term profits are the goal. Want to know how bad it gets? Check out “It Takes a Pandemic to Expose a Corrupt U.S. Healthcare System.

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Shafted: American Workers Lose Their Jobs and Their Health Insurance

Unpaid Bills

“The state will bear the financial burden of the people who have to stay home. We won’t add fear of bankruptcy or unemployment to the health crisis.” Wouldn’t it restore your faith in America’s leaders if one of them had actually made those promises? Prepare to be disappointed. That was the message the president of France delivered to his people. He wasn’t the only European leader to announce life-saving programs. In Denmark, in Sweden, in advanced economies all over the world, leaders are scrambling to protect their citizens. Even Vladimir Putin. The one thing citizens in most European countries (and other parts of the world) don’t have to worry about is keeping their healthcare whether or not they have a job. The citizens of the exceptional nation are not so fortunate. For at least 17 million who have filed for unemployment (and many uncounted millions more), the fear of getting sick is another burden keeping them awake at night. In a system where 56% of the American workforce receives their insurance on the job, no job equals no insurance. Want to know why we need Medicare-for-all? Read “Shafted: American Workers Lose Their Jobs and Their Health Insurance

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Business as Usual: Trillions in Disaster Relief for Corporations and Banks, Spare Change for the People, Hospitals, Small Businesses, State and Local Governments

Great Minds

“Our doctors and nurses are being thoroughly mobilized and worked to limit…Many cases receive no attention at all” (Acting Governor Calvin Coolidge, Massachusetts, 9/25/1918)

“We’re going to keep our small businesses strong and our big businesses strong. And that’s keeping our country strong and our jobs strong.” That’s how President Trump described the Cares Act, the massive so-called pandemic relief bill. That’s not the way most economists describe it. Like the 2008 bailout masterminded by Barack Obama, most of the money will be handed out to banks and large corporations. Everyone else, individual Americans, small businesses, distressed cities and states will nibble from a much smaller pie. Here’s how Trump and his merry band of grifters is going to “keep small businesses strong.” Twenty-seven million small businesses in the U.S. will receive slices of a $300 billion pie. The 18,586 large corporations in the U.S. will feast on $4.3 trillion of government largest, no strings attached. While small businesses can apply for loan forgiveness if they keep their employees on the payroll, corporations are under no such restraint and will not only have their loans forgiven but should their gambling ways get them in trouble again, the Federal Reserve will bail them out — with your money. What’s left for suffering Americans? A one-time means-tested check and a slight increase in both the amount and duration of unemployment, a ninety-day extension of the IRS filing date, and a three-month grace period on student loans (you’ll still have to pay but those months will be tacked onto the end of your loan), That’s it folks. What happens the second month after you’ve spent your government check? Will you be able to pay the rent or mortgage, your credit card bills, your utilities bills? Large corporations won’t have any problem meeting their obligations, with the help of an obliging Fed banker and four (or five or six) trillion to keep those sky-high paychecks, extravagant bonuses and shareholder windfalls coming. And we can’t even go out in the streets to protest. For the chilling details check out “Business as Usual: Trillions in Disaster Relief for Corporations and Banks, Spare Change for People, Hospitals, Small Businesses, State and Local Governments

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Coronavirus —An Opportunity to Push for Single Payer Healthcare?

Coronavirus Demands

Pandemic fever is ramping up in the U.S. Can the hopelessly fragmented and larcenous U.S. profit-driven healthcare system provide the tools to handle this disaster? It’s a big question and the most likely answer is NO. The facts are stark. One-third of the population is uninsured or underinsured. If they need to be tested, what doctor do they call to get a prescription? How much will the doctor charge to give them the go-ahead? If treatment or — heaven forbid — a hospital stay is required, who will pay? The insurance company lobby has already laid down the gauntlet — waiving copays “for testing not treatment.” For those who are uninsured or have huge deductibles, copays are the least of their worries. Would a single payer national healthcare system help mitigate the pandemic wild fire and guarantee needed care for all? Bernie Sanders thinks so — “We have already seen people hit with massive medical bills for doing the right thing by getting tested. Others may face massive bills for hospitalization, treatment and quarantine if they need it. This must end. We need Medicare for All.” Joe Biden repeats the standard neo-liberal excuse for retaining a trillion-dollar plunder — “You got to look at the cost.” That in the face of a peer-reviewed study at Yale that showed a single payer system saved $450 million of U.S, healthcare dollars every year. Who do you believe? Check out “Coronavirus — An Opportunity to Push for Single Payer Healthcare” before you decide.

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Progressive Alert

Bernie and Biden

Judging by the results of Super Tuesday, Joe Biden may be on his way to crushing it at the Democratic convention. That’s right, Progressives, Joe Biden, the mastermind behind the Democratic party’s rightward turn, its renunciation of New Deal reforms, and its embrace of the billionaire class vying to give us four years of Trump-light.

Oh, and one other inconvenient fact that should make Progressives shake in their boots — Joe’s dependence on big Democratic money that regularly buys elections for Democratic hopefuls. Note also his hypocrisy — having one of his gophers announce on September 26, 2019 that… since the beginning of this campaign, Biden for President has not and will not welcome the help of super PACs.” (T.J. Ducklo, 9/26/2019) Less than a month later, Joe’s resolve wavered and died — those who are dedicated to defeating Donald Trump are organizing in every way permitted by current law to bring an end to his disastrous presidency.” (Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager, 10/24/2019). Result: Biden super PACS sprung up (like Unite the Country) to monetize Joe’s campaign.

To be fair, Bernie also has super PACS in his corner — Nurses’ Union PAC and a coalition of Progressive organizations representing over two million working class people of color. Grass roots organizing not bundling cash being the objective of Bernie’s PACS.

Particularly troubling in light of Joe’s woeful record of slamming the working class and people of color is the endorsement of Rep. James Clyburn — “I know Joe. We know Joe … But most importantly, Joe knows us.” If Representative Clyburn’s “us” refers to the African American community, his endorsement is baffling. As a result of Joe’s authorship of President Clinton’s catastrophic crime bill (Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act), the U.S. incarceration rate outstrips that of every other country in the world. Maybe Rep. Clyburn is unaware that people of color are two-thirds of the population in federal lockups. Or maybe he doesn’t care. Joe himself was pretty flippant about his successful push for the bill ‘s passage joking “A wag in the newspaper recently wrote something to the effect that Biden has made it a death penalty offense for everything except jaywalking.” Recently, Joe has tried to run away from his handiwork denying that he had any part in the bill’s creation and passage. Not true says former Senate majority leader and fellow neo-liberal, George Mitchell who touted Joe as “the one person most responsible for passage of this [the crime] bill… the most effective legislator in the Senate, bar none.”

Bernie Sander’s reaction to the crime bill at the time — “What do we have to do, put half the country behind bars?” Sadly, as it turned out, Sanders went on to vote for the bill to preserve the section intended to reduce violence against women. When it turned out that the Violence Against Women act may have actually increased the epidemic of violence, Sanders admitted his mistake — “I was not happy I voted for a terrible bill.” Joe on the other hand couldn’t have been prouder often referring to the “Biden Crime Law” as being responsible for “restor[ing] American cities.”

There’s more, lots more —Joe’s mighty contribution to the passage of NAFTA. The toll: over 700,000 manufacturing jobs lost, the beginning of an era of low wages, declining union clout, and skyrocketing corporate profits. Sanders’ take on NAFTA — “a bad deal for American workers.”

Some of Joe’s other greatest hits. His successful campaign to pass a banker-friendly bankruptcy “reform” bill which eliminated bankruptcy protection for students and curtailed it for poor and working class Americans, his history of opposing desegregation (“a liberal train wreck”), his opposition to abortion, and his attacks on the social safety net, at one time calling on Congress to “require all welfare recipients to sign a contract in which they agree to work in exchange for their benefits,” Remember how horrified Progressive were when twenty-five years later President Trump took Biden’s advice?

Coming from Senate campaigns financed by millionaires and billionaires on Wall Street, in the banking sector and super PACS, is it any wonder that Biden put his political weight behind ending Glass-Steagall, the only bulwark against the predatory instincts of the banks. Bernie wasn’t on board and predicted that the end of Glass-Steagall would lead to “more mega-mergers” and the “further concentration of economic power in this country.”

Progressives, Joe is not your guy. Throughout his long political career Joe’s core “values” as a politician and leader have been to do the bidding of the oligarchs — shrinking the size of government and the social safety net, rolling back protections against violations of civil rights and liberties, cutting key regulations to protect land, air, and water, and rolling back other key reforms of the New Deal and Great Society.

Biden’s ten wins in Super Tuesday primaries display the lengths to which heavyweight Democrats will go to rob Bernie of his shot at the Oval Office. After Rep. Clyburn’s powerful, endorsement in South Carolina (he also endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016), mirabile dictu, on the eve of Super Tuesday two Democratic candidates, Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg announced they were ending their campaigns and endorsed Biden.

The dream dies slowly as Biden’s star rises: a healthcare system that takes care of everyone, higher education opportunities that don’t burden young people with lifelong debt, real climate change (not the Obama-Biden reliance on “clean coal as a path to solar and wind power), free day care to give young parents one less thing to worry about and a radical lessening of the inequality that haunts the lives and prospects of too many Americans.

What does Biden offer — neo-liberal economics, austerity and a market economy, continuation of the empire’s focus on war, violence and regime change, a rapidly evolving climate catastrophe, and an out-of-control security and surveillance state.

Sounds just ducky, doesn’t it? Want to know the gory details of Biden’s decade-long pandering to the rich and powerful. Read or reread SA’s earlier articles on a failed leader: On October 22, 2018, Joe Biden: The Kind of Leader the U.S. Doesn’t Need and on April 18, 2019, Joe Biden: Time to Exit Stage Right

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Single Payer on the Ropes as Bernie is Top Banana in the Health Industry Donations Sweepstakes

The Candidates

Pete Buttigieg
“Senator Sanders’ plan by definition abolishes private

plans like what… [union] workers have. Mine does not.”

Amy Klobuchar
“I’m the only one on the debate stage when asked ‘Do you have a
problem with a Socialist leading the Democratic ticket’ and I said
yes”

The knives are out dear readers. We may be on the cusp of losing our best chance to finally join the rest of the developed world with universal single payer healthcare. Buttigieg’s plan is a thinly disguised sell-out to the wealthy hedge and private equity funds and corporate healthcare companies who have a gilt-edged oar in the healthcare water and are determined to keep it. To counter the Bernie threat, they send out paid stenographers masquerading as Democratic candidates to spin the public with one of two fairy tales — private healthcare with a few tweaks (very few) will do just fine as it always has (for rich folks). Credit Pete Buttigieg with that lie. Waiting in the wings, the queen of the fear mongerers, Amy Klobuchar, clutching her pearls and forecasting catastrophic consequences if even a whiff of what she calls socialism (single payer healthcare) is allowed to displace privatized healthcare. Tell that fairytale to nearly half of American adults (84½ million) with little or no insurance. The only obstacle in the way of the Democratic stampede to protect the status quo appears to be Bernie Sanders. But questions abound. If you judge a candidate by his donors, Bernie appears to be in bed with the enemy. SA recounts the troubling tale in Single Payer on the Ropes as Bernie is Top Banana in the Health Industry Donations Sweepstakes. Have we placed our bets on the wrong horse?

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Progressive Alert

Obama - Buttigieg

Were you surprised at Pete Buttigieg’s performance in the Iowa Caucuses? Don’t say we didn’t warn you. Twice. First, on August 1, 2019, Suspicious Angels published Will a Charm Offensive and Oodles of Money Land Pete Buttigieg in the Oval Office? Ask Barack Obama — an exposé laying out chapter and verse how he planned to rise through the ranks to the top tier using the Obama playbook. Again, on December 3, 2019, Suspicious Angels published What makes Pete Buttigieg Run — spelling out how he intends to grab the nomination. And now he appears to have won Iowa. The same way Obama did with a staff of former Obama campaign advisers, scooping up largesse aplenty from the same democratic moneybags that bankrolled Obama, enticing super delegates to hop on the Buttigieg express if the selection process requires a second round. One thing is certain — Buttigieg is out to win it all. Remember the high hopes we had for Obama? “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. For all our sakes, read (or reread) both.

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Single Payer Healthcare or a Public Option? 159,000 Doctors Got It Wrong

Patients Not Profits

Read all about it. Headlines trumpet a revolutionary about-face among thousands of doctors on how to fix U.S. crumbling healthcare. “Major Doctors’ Group Calls for U.S. to Read all about it. Headlines trumpet a revolutionary about-face among thousands of doctors on how to fix U.S. crumbling healthcare. “Major Doctors’ Group Calls for U.S. to Assure Coverage for All (The Washington Post and The New York Times); “In Historic Shift, Second Largest Physician’s Group in the U.S. has New Prescription: It’s Medicare-for-All (Common Dreams). It sounded like a dream come true and though we hate to admit it, Suspicious Angels swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. Until we actually read the report and realized it was another attempt to “make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” The author of the report, The American College of Physicians, is the second largest medical society in the U.S. with a membership of 159,000 internists (aka primary care physicians). You might say they didn’t really take a position coming out somewhere between single payer and a public option. In contrast, the largest medical society, the American Medical Association with 218,000 members, in June, 2019 voted to oppose single payer or even its second-class cousin, a public option. Thoughts of an approaching revolution called single payer is having another effect. The billionaire class is in a tizzy. Howard Schultz, founder of Starbucks, declared that single payer was “un-American.” So Assure Coverage for All (The Washington Post and The New York Times); “In Historic Shift, Second Largest Physician’s Group in the U.S. has New Prescription: It’s Medicare-for-All (Common Dreams). It sounded like a dream come true and though we hate to admit it, Suspicious Angels swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. Until we actually read the report and realized it was another attempt to “make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” The author of the report, The American College of Physicians, is the second largest medical society in the U.S. with a membership of 159,000 internists (aka primary care physicians). You might say they didn’t really take a position coming out somewhere between single payer and a public option. In contrast, the largest medical society, the American Medical Association with 218,000 members, in June, 2019 voted to oppose single payer or even its second-class cousin, a public option. Thoughts of an approaching revolution called single payer is having another effect. The billionaire class is in a tizzy. Howard Schultz, founder of Starbucks, declared that single payer was “un-American.”

So what’s the real deal? Will we settle for a public option or go whole hog like the rest of the developed world with single payer? It’s time to rally around the flag. But which flag? You may find the answers in “Single Payer Healthcare or a Public Option? 159,000 Doctors Got It Wrong

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