Notes from Post Midterm Elections National Strategy Call to Win Medicare For All

by local activists

11/13/2018

You can listen to the recording here: https://medicare4all.org/event/nov13call/

“It is not going to be an easy fight as the drug companies and insurance companies buy politicians and sell out their constituents every single day.” – Bernie Sanders

Post Midterm National Strategy Call to Win Medicare for All / HR 676

Tuesday, Nov. 13th, 2018, 5PM

National Nurses United with Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Nina Turner (Our Revolution), Sen. Bernie Sanders, Bonnie Castillo (National Nurses United)

Jasmine Ruddy, moderator, National Nurses United — Moderator

We’ll hear from special guests and then talk about next steps in the movement to fight for Medicare For All: Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Nina Turner, Bonnie Castillo, Bernie Sanders and leaders of organizations for healthcare justice from across the country

Overview

We want to work together to help the Democrats pass HR 676/Medicare for All in the U.S. House. We need a massive grassroots movement to lobby members to sign-on. We’ll talk about why HR 676 is strategic, how get there, the role that the activists are playing, exactly what all of you on the call can do. We now have over a thousand people on this call.

Where we’re going and how get there. Healthcare justice is growing, can’t rely on electoral process to get there. We have to go deep into our communities, doing the groundwork to make it happen will be a deciding factor for victory.

Nurses care about their patients, many of whom suffer and die without care. Our solidarity is eliminating the inequalities. Roll up our sleeves and get to work for victory.

Nina Turner: Thanks to the National Nurses United who have been on the front lines with a vision for having Medicare For All. It is popular across the political spectrum now. In words of Nelson Mandela, “it always seems impossible until we are done.” All Democrats must support Medicare for All so we can have the best healthcare that our tax dollars can buy. We are going to make sure the Democrats will lead on this, stand up for the people, the grass tops — going to push the Democrats to do this, no excuse for any elected Representative to not support this issue.

We can’t have any other great thing in this country if people don’t have their healthcare. People shouldn’t have to make a choice between their medical bills and paying the rent. People are too afraid to go to the doctor if they can’t afford it.

Pramila Jayapal: Thank you for your vision, this is an idea whose time has come. Medicare for All is not a radical idea. Healthcare is not just for the rich and for the wealthy. Bernie used his campaign to lift up Medicare for All. We know that HR 676, John Conyers’ bill, now has a record of 123 co-sponsors. We are ready to stand up for what we believe in, we have the ground power. We will be introducing this bill, HR 676 in the U.S. House. There will be an inside-outside strategy– get your member to sign on.

Senator Bernie Sanders: Physicians see patients walking into their offices with terminal situations. Thousands of Americans die every single year because they are under insured.

Last year drug companies made $50B in profits and the American people are catching on to that reality. We are being attacked daily by Trump and his minions as they read the same polls as we do. Latest polls show that about 70% of American and a majority of Republicans want to expand Medicare for all. That’s why so many Republicans and pharmaceutical companies are getting very nervous.

When Trump attacks us it should not shock you, he is lying once again. Medicare for All does not weaken Medicare, it will strengthen it. We will expand benefits to include dental care, hearing aids, vision care, all the very important services.

Medicare For All will also be a program that will help small and medium businesses at a cost they can afford. Medicare for All is important for working people who are often trapped in jobs they do not like. The passage of Medicare for All would allow them to think about the economic opportunities they haven’t been able to consider because their families would have healthcare as a right. It is not going to be an easy fight. The drug companies and insurance companies have almost unlimited funds to buy politicians and sell out their constituents every single day. We are not going to succeed unless we tell politicians they have to do what the people want and that’s when we’ll finally get guaranteed healthcare. We need grassroots activity to make it happen, we will then transform America in a way that is a very big deal — lets stand up, lets fight back. This is an historical struggle and will transform America. Thank you all.

Strategy:

Lobbying Congress

For those new to the movement, there are two bills in congress: the Senate bill– S1804 has 16 cosponsors; the House bill– HR 676 has 123 co-sponsors. We now have a real opportunity to move HR 676 in the U.S. House in January. We want two committees to hold hearings and then move HR 676 forward to floor of the house. There are two crucial committees in the House— Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce. We really need the chairs and members of both committees to support HR 676.

We must prioritize our activism on this work. We must move both of these bills forward in these two committees, then members of Congress cannot ignore Medicare for All.

Working with a member of Congress (example: Joe Kennedy of MA)

-build a coalition: nurses, doctors, students, labor, etc.

-sign on letter from over 30 organizations from members in your district and from their national organizations

-social media day of action: Facebook, Twitter

-stand outside supermarkets and got over 250 calls, that’s when we finally heard back from our Congressional member

-he told us he does support HR 676 but has a few issues with the text of the bill

Building Coalitions

We worked on the Affordable Care Act but what people really wanted was Medicare for All. Our goal is to meet at least twice with every Congressional member and create a national network.

Democratic Socialists of America

We have chapters in all 50 states; grown by over 600% in last two years; canvassing on a daily basis. By doing this we find either people are not home or they want Medicare for All! Now is the time to strike while the iron is hot!

National Nurses United

We organized in two states– in Florida and Texas. We contacted non-union nurses work and worked with a core. Now have active groups throughout each of these states. The calling card is Medicare for All as a public policy. Our recent urgency was working on two campaigns — gubernatorial race in Florida and U.S. Senate race in Texas. Needed to have the proper technology so we used RN lists then sent texts via a computerized system to about 200,000 non-union nurses. From this effort we now have 3,000 nurses as the committed core. We set up meetings and talked about what a campaign might look like. Over 2,000 came to these classes.

California Medicare Campaign

Knock on every door, largely led by the nurses. We had over 350 all volunteer canvassers and knocked on 24,000 doors. This was not just about talking to likely voters but having as many conversations as we can. When legislators tell us that they have received over 100 calls on this issue then we know we will win because of people power.

Organizing to Win Medicare for All

What Improved Medicare means is everyone will now have vision, dental, get rid of out of pocket costs. It does not hurt anyone’s Medicare — makes it even better. Trump knows how powerful our campaign is and he will come after us. Seniors love their Medicare and they will be our best fighters for Medicare for All.

Physicians for a National Health Program

It’s an exciting time but also a dangerous moment on two fronts: insurance companies are forming a resistance. They are going to pour money into Washington DC as well as put forward half measures to dilute Medicare for All such as public options and under-insurance. We are so pleased there is so much energy on this call. Nationwide there is now a 70% support for Medicare for All. In our experiences as nurses and doctors the only solution is single payer/Medicare for All healthcare.

National Nurses United, Organizing for HR 676

1) We want all the members of the Ways and Means Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committees to co-sponsor HR 676 then we will have a real shot at passing this bill in the House.

2) We must pressure them by building support in their districts, develop key committees, talk to people across the country, ask for their support, and call into these districts. The ask will be to call members of Congress to support our Medicare for All bill — HR 676. We need mass numbers of people to call into these offices to pressure Reps to co-sponsor this legislation.

3) From Feb. 9th-13th we will do as many mass barnstorms as possible: organizing meetings, hear from a variety of speakers, canvass, and phone bank. National Nurses United is committed to barnstorm in CA (Pelosi, Cardenas, Ruiz, Peters) MA (Joe Kennedy) TX (San Antonio). Organize barnstorms where you live– focus on Suzan DelBene in WA on the House Ways and Means Committee.

4) With mass collective action together we will win Medicare for All, so deeply grateful to you and for all of your work.

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Here is a discussion by the Young Turks about the fight for Medicare for All:

I’m pro-life: in favor of Medicare for all, a healthy environment, and gun control

I’m pro-life for adults and for later-term fetuses, but I’m pro-choice for early-term fetuses.  However, it seems that many conservative Americans are pro-life only for fetuses but not so much for children and adults.

Real pro-life includes everyone, not just fetuses. So, I’m in favor of government-guaranteed medical care for everyone.  And I’m in favor of stringent environmental regulations.

Here are some links about how harmful auto and truck traffic are to human health.

Many daycare centers and schools are dangerously close to busy roads.
http://www.invw.org/series/exhausted-at-school/

Living near highways bad for lungs
http://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/healthy-air/outdoor/air-pollution/highways.html

Living close to a major roadway could increase dementia, study says
http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/04/health/dementia-risk-living-near-major-road/index.html

Roads are harmful to pregnant women
http://envhealthcenters.usc.edu/infographics/infographic-living-near-busy-roads-or-traffic-pollution/references-living-near-busy-roads-or-traffic-pollution

Road pollution associated with increased breast cancer
https://nypost.com/2017/04/06/the-roads-you-live-near-affect-the-health-of-your-boobs/

Road pollution bad for heart health
https://news.heart.org/living-near-busy-roads-may-bad-heart-patients-health/

Then there are the indisputable negative effects of carbon pollution on the climate change.

Don’t repeal what’s working; fix Affordable Care Act

I am a lucky person. My jaw is broken, but that is not why I am lucky.

uninsured-wristband

I have good health and dental insurance. So when my jaw was fractured last month, I didn’t have to worry about how I could afford to fix it. Sure, I will pay some significant cost-sharing, but it will not make me poor. And this final fact overrides all the inconveniences of having my teeth wired and banded so the jaw can heal.

That’s why I am lucky.

Before the Affordable Care Act, millions of people in our state did have to worry about the cost of health care. If they had “pre-existing conditions” they were forced to get their coverage through the state’s high-risk pool, which was very expensive. If they had insurance, their premiums or their share of premiums went up and up every year. The deductibles and out-of-pocket costs went up as well. If they didn’t have insurance, they lived in fear of being sick or getting hurt, or they simply played the odds and thought they could get by. Some did. Others didn’t. They were saddled with tens of thousands of dollars of costs for their care. And the hospitals to which they went for emergency care accrued hundreds of millions of dollars in costs for uncompensated care.

The proportion of people without insurance in our state has fallen by 10 percent between 2010 and 2015. That’s means that about 700,000 people now have health coverage that they did not have before passage of the Affordable Care Act. Our rate of uninsured is at an all-time low – 5.8 percent in 2015. It has fallen further since then. This is an equal opportunity benefit. The uninsured rate for whites fell 7.5 percent between 2013 and 2015. For blacks it fell 10.2 percent. For Hispanics it fell 13.2 percent. For Native Americans it fell 14.3 percent.

How did this happen? The Affordable Care Act enabled coverage of young adults under their parents’ employer-provided health insurance until age 26. The act disallowed insurance companies from denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions.

The act expanded our state’s Apple Health coverage up the income ladder, so that all citizens with incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty level could get health coverage. (That’s $16,400 for a single person and $33,500 for a family of four.) The act created the individual health insurance exchange and enabled immediate tax credits for people with income up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level who purchased their coverage through the exchange. That comes out to subsidize coverage for individuals with incomes up to $47,500. The act created subsidies for out-of-pocket costs for people up to 250 percent of federal poverty level — $29,700 for a single person and $60,750 for a family of four.

Today 1,838,000 people get their health coverage through Apple Health and another 173,000 get their coverage through the health benefit exchange. Apple Health now covers over 136,000 people in Snohomish County. The individual exchange covers another 16,500. So in Snohomish County, as is true for the entire state, 1 out of every 4 people get their health coverage through the Washington Benefit Exchange.

We all know the Affordable Care Act is not perfect. Out of pocket costs can be up to $6,000 per person. When your income goes up from $16,000 to $20,000, you have to go from Apple Health, with zero cost, into the exchange, which, even at that income, will cost you almost $1,000 for your share of the premium and up to $2,500 more if you get sick and need care. As your income further increases, your health care costs get more out of whack.

So, the Affordable Care Act could and should be improved. But it does work. Millions of people in our state alone have health coverage that they did not have before.

What we need to do now is to decrease health care costs and eliminate wasteful unnecessary care. That means driving down the costs of pharmaceuticals, hospitalization and specialty care. But that would mean taking on the “swamp” of special interests in Washington, D.C. Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress swim in that swamp. They want to repeal the Affordable Care Act. They don’t have a replacement. That’s their plan for making America great again. But that’s not our America.

Original: Everett Herald »

Trump's lies about Canadian health care

No, Trump, Canadians do not flee en masse for US health care. In fact, few do — pretty much just rich people.

Myths About Canadian Health Care: “Myth #1: Canadians are flocking to the United States to get medical care. … Myth #3: Canada rations health care; that’s why hip replacements and cataract surgeries happen faster in the United States. Myth #4: Canada has long wait times because it has a single-payer system.”

Health Coverage in King County: Progress to date – and steps still to be taken

King County residents, especially those with U.S. citizenship, have benefitted greatly from the expansion of health coverage via the Affordable Care Act. Between April 2014 and March 2016, the number of residents covered through Apple Health (Medicaid) and the Qualified Health Plans offered through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange grew by 55%, from 256,000 to 396,000.[i] As a result, one out of five King County residents now has health insurance through Apple Health or Qualified Health Plans.[ii]

Health Coverage in King County - graphic01

These expansions have driven a noteworthy decrease in the number of uninsured residents in King County. Data from the Washington State Office of Financial Management (OFM) and Public Health – Seattle & King County shows a systemic decline in the number of uninsured across the board: by ethnicity, age, employment status, citizenship and income level between 2013 and 2014[iii] (prior to the 140,000 person increase in health coverage through the Health Benefit Exchange in 2016.)

Between 2013 and 2014, King County realized a 38% proportional decrease in the number of uninsured, as the number of people without health insurance decreased by 82,000. Compared to a 35% drop in the uninsured across the state, and a 20% drop in the uninsured nationally, this makes King County a high performer relative to other jurisdictions.[iv]

Of particular note: disproportionate drops in the rate of uninsured occurred among African Americans, Asian Americans, people with incomes below 138% of federal poverty level, the unemployed, and naturalized citizens. These numbers indicate the success of the Affordable Care Act across all population cohorts, while highlighting those cohorts which still disproportionately lack health coverage.

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Who Doesn’t Have Coverage in King County

In spite of the advances in coverage made possible through the Affordable Care Act, 139,000 residents of King County still did not have health insurance as of 2014.[v] These individuals are particularly concentrated among adults not in the labor force (35,546), non-citizens, those who with incomes below the median income (112,040), Hispanics (35,785), and people between the ages of 25 and 45 (75,233). These are overlapping cohorts. For example, thousands of Hispanics reside and work in Washington state are both poor and do not yet have citizenship status.

It is important to note that since 2014, over 140,000 additional people have gained health coverage through Apple Health or the Health Benefit Exchange (an additional 60% on top of 2014’s totals). At the same time, King County’s overall population has grown by 89,000 people. Without knowing the numbers of employees who have been switched from employer health coverage to coverage through the Health Benefit Exchange, we can only imprecisely estimate the number of residents who remain uninsured in King County. Our estimate is that of the 2.1 million residents of King County, fewer than 80,000 people, or less than 4% of the County’s population, lack health coverage.

Health Coverage in King County - graphic11

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Price Walls and Affordability

A decrease in the number of uninsured does not mean the Affordable Care Act has “solved” problems with the nation’s health insurance coverage. Current coverage rates still don’t match the levels found in other developed countries around the world. And even King County residents who have health insurance remain vulnerable to losing coverage or being financially unable to meet their “cost-share” for health coverage.

The price wall people encounter when their income exceeds 138% of federal poverty level is another significant problem. With an annual income of $16,284 or less, an adult is covered by Apple Health, with minimal, if any, cost to the individual.[vi] But if that same person gets a wage increase and thereby earns $20,650 (175% of federal poverty level), the combined premium and out-of-pocket costs can exceed $2,300 – more than 12% of their income – even after receiving federal subsidies. For a person earning $23,600 (200% of federal poverty level), the combined premium and out-of-pocket costs can exceed $2,800.[vii]

Health Coverage in King County - graphic16

The Price Wall Problem

Imagine a hypothetical community college student named Brenda, who is working 32 hours a week at the minimum wage in Burien. At $9.47/hour, her income is $14,773 and she qualifies for Apple Health (i.e. no-cost health insurance.) The following year, she takes a job in Seattle that pays $12.50/hour. Her income goes up to $20,800, a bit above 175% of federal poverty level.

Brenda now no longer qualifies for Apple Health, and so moves into the commercial health benefit exchange. While premiums and out-of-pocket costs are subsidized by the federal government, they can still be sizeable. If she gets ill and needs care, she can lose 40% of the increase in her wages – over $2,300 – to payments for her health insurance coverage. If her income increases to $29,500, she could pay as much as $6,152 for health care in premiums and out-of-pockets costs – more than 20% of her total income.

Solutions for Advancing Health Coverage in King County

King County can improve health insurance coverage by paying particular attention to those populations with continued high rates of uninsurance and underinsurance – that is, individuals below 138% of federal poverty level (who qualify for Apple Health but may have difficulty accessing it), and those between 138% and 199% of federal poverty level.

For people in the former category, that corresponds to: less than $16,284 for a single person; less than $22,107 for a two-person family; less than $27,820 for a three-person family; less than $33,534 for a four-person family; and less than $39,247 for a five-person family. The county should make every effort to expedite coverage for this population through Apple Health, while recognizing that many residents and workers at this income level will still not be able to gain coverage due to citizenship status.

For those with incomes between 138% and 300% of federal poverty level, there is not a straightforward solution regarding affordability – particularly for premiums and out-of-pocket costs that challenge family budgets. One avenue is for the county to explore re-instituting Washington state’s Basic Health Plan at the county level, using the same parameters for cost-sharing that were in place when the people passed Initiative 773 in 2001 to expand Basic Health coverage.

The county could also work with the state and federal government to increase the threshold for coverage under Apple Health from 138% to 150% of federal poverty level. If this were to happen, about 13,000 people currently in the commercial exchange could move into Apple Health.[viii] Another possibility is for the county to work with the state in developing a federal Basic Health option, as provided by the Affordable Care Act’s section 1331.

The county could also continue to dedicate and increase resources to providing care for those excluded from coverage under the Affordable Care Act, particularly recent immigrants. King County has already laid out an agenda for action, outlined in the July 2015 report, “Access to Health Care After the Affordable Care Act”[ix] and the October 2015 report, “Affordable Care Act Enrollment in King County: Early General Population Impacts.”[x]

King County, Washington state, and the United States have embarked upon systemic and significant advances toward achieving health coverage for all. While progress has been made, there is much more to do. This work will take innovative and creative policy development, increased public funding, and, most importantly, the political will to meet the health needs of and establish health security for all residents.

Notes:

[i]     Washington Health Benefit Exchange Enrollment Reports: http://www.wahbexchange.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/HBE_EN_140422_April_Enrollment_Report.pdf, http://www.wahbexchange.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/HBE_EN_160607_March_Enrollment_Report.pdf

[ii]     Population grew in King County from 1,981,900 to 2,052,800 between 2013 and 2015, an increase of 70,900, or 3.58%. See http://www.ofm.wa.gov/pop/asr/default.asp Washington state Office of Financial Management, Population, Estimates of April 1st population, county data tables.

[iii]    The OFM data is for the total population (that is, including Medicare recipients 65 and older, and children under 18 years old, whose coverage is very high, thanks in large part to Apple Health. The King County data focuses on the 18-64 age population. Further, OFM adjusted data to take in account an undercount of Apple Health enrollment in the 2014 American Community Survey (ACS). These differing methodologies and populations account for the difference in the rates of uninsured.

[iv]    Affordable Care Act Enrollment in King County, presentation by Public Health – Seattle & King County, http://www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/%7e/media/health/publichealth/documents/data/affordable-care-act-enrollment-king-county.ashx, p. 10 and 11.

[v]     American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates on the American FactFinder; Wei Yen, OFM Forecasting and Research Division

[vi]    Washington State Health Care Authority: Apple Health Federal Poverty Level (FPL) Chart – Find out if you’re eligible http://www.hca.wa.gov/medicaid/publications/Documents/19_031.pdf

[vii]    Washington Health Plan Finder: https://www.wahealthplanfinder.org/HBEWeb/Annon_ShowIndividualFamilyPlans

[viii]   Washington Health Benefit Exchange, March 2015, Health Coverage Enrollment Report, page 8: http://wahbexchange.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/991427407310_2015_Enrollment_Report_2_032615.pdf

[ix]    Access to Health Care After the Affordable Care Act, presentation by Public Health – Seattle & King County, http://www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/%7e/media/health/publichealth/documents/data/Access-Health-Care-After-ACA.ashx

[x]     http://www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/%7e/media/health/publichealth/documents/data/affordable-care-act-enrollment-king-county.ashx

Originally published at EOI Online

It takes a web of public support to keep ourselves healthy

Mention “the web” and many people will think you’re talking about the Internet. But when you’re having a serious medical problem, you see an entirely different network in action.

Two weeks ago, as my body tried — at first, in vain — to fight off a serious infection, my family and friends were the first set of those connections. They took me to the doctor and dentist, made sure I took antibiotics, talked to me, and comforted me. I’m grateful. I certainly was not in any condition to do that on my own. But I’m also grateful for the many other connections that supported them and made my care possible. Family and friends can only do so much.

Consider the doctors, l technicians, nurses, medical assistants and dentists who help us. We have this professional workforce thanks to public investments in the University of Washington’s medical school and nursing school, numerous community colleges and other universities and colleges across the state and nation. Not only was their cost of education subsidized by the state, but all the capital investments in building and technology for medical education came from the state’s taxpayers.

Consider the growing list of MRIs, CT scans, biologic drugs and cancer treatments now available. These advances are possible because of government investments in health research and development, through the National Institutes of Health. Anti-cancer drugs like Taxol, that have saved my sister’s life and thousands of others, were initially developed by the federally funded National Cancer Institute.

These are public triumphs for everyone’s health. But even those require a network to succeed. The priorities we set as a society, and enact through our democracy, are the foundation for everyone’s protection, health and quality of life.

Consider the roads leading to and from our homes and nearby medical facilities. No single person builds and maintains them. We chose to pool our resources via collective taxation to shape our transportation network.

Consider that half of all people in Washington have health insurance through government financing, whether via Apple Care, Medicare, Obamacare the State Health Benefit Exchange, or as public employees of school districts, fire districts, the state, counties and cities. My wife, sister and brother-in-law are part of this network. So is anyone over 65, all kids under 18, and many retired fans of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. This woven web of coverage isn’t perfect, but it beats handing your fate over to a private market interested more in profits than patients.

Consider that now in Seattle and Tacoma and Spokane, you can take a work day to care for yourself or sick family member without fear of losing your wages or your job. That’s only possible because the Seattle, Tacoma, and Spokane city councils passed ordinances to make it so. Initiative 1433, the statewide ballot measure now gathering signatures, would extend this network of law to all workers in the state.

When you are sick, you gain a new perspective on life. It tends to diminish one’s own sense of self-importance. That humbling is a good thing. We all need some perspective about ourselves away from the noise and ego of everyday life. It shatters the self-made, up-by-my-bootstraps, don’t-need-any-help edifice that too often masquerades as some kind of American ethos.

A person is only able to lead a healthy life because of the entire web around them: of society, government, health professionals, friends and family. Keep that in mind as certain presidential candidates invoke the founders of our country or other contemporary leaders as paragons of self-sufficiency. None of us are or were — not the founders (whose quality of life was enabled through the slave labor), not Donald Trump (whose wealth is protected by bankruptcy courts and civil law), and not Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton (who, like many of us, benefit from publicly provided health coverage).

We are all in this together, no matter what the color of our skin or the accents and language of our voices. It’s time to bury the hubris and take a large dosage of humility — maybe like some of our great-grandparents took a spoonful of cod liver oil each morning. Then we need to figure out how to advance as a nation of interconnected and interdependent individuals striving for lives of purpose, hope, happiness and solidarity.

Originally published at the Everett Herald

The NY Times' deceptive summary of yesterday's Clinton-Sanders debate

In In Democratic Debate, Hillary Clinton Challenges Bernie Sanders on Policy Shifts the NY Times summarized last night’s debate by saying “Hillary Clinton targeted Bernie Sanders’s electoral appeal with some of her strongest language yet in a debate on Sunday night, seizing on Mr. Sanders’s recent policy shifts on universal health care and gun control to try to undercut his image as an anti-political truth teller.”

Both the headline and the summary strike me as inaccurate. Benie Sanders has been pretty consistently in favor of single payer health care. (For example, in 2013 Sanders introduced the American Health Security Act, S. 1782 which required “each participating state to set up and administer a state single payer health program.”)

Probably the shift that the NY Times writers are referring to concerns the shift from Obamacare to a single payer system:

With Mr. Sanders gaining on her before the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses, Mrs. Clinton cast herself as the defender of Mr. Obama’s record and Mr. Sanders as playing into Republican hands with proposals like replacing the Affordable Care Act with a single-payer plan, which Mr. Sanders describes as “Medicare for all.”

But if that’s the shift they’re referring to, it’s not a shift in Sanders’ position — the way he arguably has shifted his views on gun control — but rather a shift in the nation’s policies.

The New York Times needs better editing.

The incredible venality and cruelty of Big Pharma

The Denver post is reporting:

A bold federal effort to curb prescribing of painkillers may be faltering amid stiff resistance from drugmakers, industry-funded groups and, now, even other public health officials.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was on track to finalize new prescribing guidelines for opioid painkillers in January. The guidelines — though not binding — would be the strongest government effort yet to reverse the rise in deadly overdoses tied to drugs such as OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet.

But this highly unusual move — the CDC rarely advises physicians on medications, a job formally assigned to the Food and Drug Administration — thrust the agency into the middle of a long-standing fight over the use of opioids, a powerful but highly addictive class of pain medications that rang up over $9 billion in sales last year, according to IMS Health.

 

Over-prescription of opioids is causing an epidemic of addiction and overdoses.   And the high price of drugs in America and the stranglehold that Big Pharma has over Congress are reasons for outrage.

In The Truth about the Drug Companies, a former Editor in Chief of the New England Journal of Medicine writes of the drug industry, “Instead of being an engine of innovation, it is a vast marketing machine. Instead of being a free market success story, it lives off government-funded research and monopoly rights.” See also The Horrifying Hidden Story Behind Drug Company Profits.

The corruption of Big Pharma is an disgusting. The profit from human suffering. The public should be protesting.