Growing Popularity of Medicare-for-All Puts Opponents on the Defensive

By Sedef Berk
Author, Citizen Vox

Recent attacks on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Medicare, and Medicaid have not only solidified the support for these programs, but they have also led voters and politicians to look to improve and expand our health care status quo. This has increased the strength and urgency of the push for single-payer, Medicare-for-All as the solution to our current expensive, fragmented health care system.

The public is squarely behind the call to expand and improved Medicare and make it available to everyone. A recent poll found that 6 in 10 Americans support Medicare-for-All, including nearly three-fourths of Democrats and almost 55 percent of independents. This represents an increase of 10 points from the 65 percent of Democrats who believed single-payer Medicare-for-All was a “good idea” in 2017.

Even an increasing number of Republicans support Medicare-for-All with 44 percent of Trump voters and 46 percent of Republicans, generally, reporting support. This is double the 23 percent of Republicans in 2016 and nearly double the 25 percent in 2017 who supported single-payer Medicare-for-All.  Republicans cited, among other reasons,  the high cost of premiums, especially for low-income adults living in states that have not expanded Medicaid, as a key reason for their support.

Medicare-for-All has gained traction across ideological lines in part because of growing support for the government’s responsibility to guarantee access to health care. A recent poll found that 60 percent of Americans believe that it is the government is responsible for ensuring health care coverage, the highest proportion in a decade.

The Medicare-for-All movement is also continuing to ramp up in the U.S. Congress. In July, Co-chairs Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) launched the Medicare-for-All Caucus with 74 members, representing one-third of all Democrats in the House of Representatives. The Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act (H.R. 676), has a record 123 co-sponsors. This represents nearly two-thirds of the 194 total Democratic House members.

In the Senate, the call for single-payer is getting louder too. The Medicare for All Act (S. 1804) was introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) with 16 co-sponsors, which is one-third of Senate Democrats. Co-sponsors include potential 2020 candidates, including Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). However, as recently as 2016, Sen. Sanders was the only sponsor for his single-payer bill, highlighting the strength of the grassroots-led Medicare-for-All movement and its ability to bring new champions on board.

Recognizing the growing popularity of Medicare-for-All, and in their zeal to protect the status quo that enriches medical corporations, conservatives have been engaging in “Mediscare” tactics, or casting doubt about the cost or quality of care under Medicare-for-All. Opponents have returned to using rhetoric such as calling the policy “socialized medicine” and “government financed health care” in an attempt to steer voters away from supporting Medicare-for-All. Seema Verma, the Center of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator, recently called Medicare-for-All “government-run socialized health care.” These attacks highlight that the Medicare-for-All movement has gained sufficient traction that opponents clearly are no longer comfortable simply ignoring it and now are trying to undermine the push for the policy by peddling untruths.

Even conservative voters are unconvinced by these misleading arguments about “socialized medicine” as they recognize that the federal and state governments already oversee payment of bills through Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare-for-All would simply improve and expand Medicare to everyone in America. Also, though health care would be paid for by the government, but health care delivery would continue to be provided by private doctors and hospitals. Consolidating government oversight of health care and disbursing funds via a single, national payment stream will improve health care access, accountability, and efficiency.

“Mediscare” tactics also obscure that two-thirds of current spending on healthcare is already financed by taxpayer dollars. This includes services such as Medicare and Medicaid as well as health insurance for government employees and tax subsidies for employers to provide health care. In contrast, private business funds only account for twenty percent of total health care spending. And, as we recently outlined, the total cost of health spending in the country will actually decrease under Medicare-for-All because of administrative cost savings, drug negotiation, and other policies to increase efficiencies while cutting costs.

Lastly, these scare tactics will continue to fail to slow the fantastic momentum behind Medicare-for-All because voters are not deterred by government participation in the provision of health care, but rather they want it. More than 50 percent of low-income Republicans—a significant increase of 19 percent from 2016—support the government playing a direct role in ensuring access to health care. Republicans who have struggled to afford their health care are particularly inclined to support Medicare-for-All.

Please help us debunk misleading “Mediscare” tactics by sharing this Medicare-for-All FAQ page and by sharing this blog on social media!

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Reposted from Public Citizen

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work