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2020 Candidates Will Have to Choose a Side—the Health Insurance Industry or the People

2020 Candidates Will Have to Choose a Side—the Health Insurance Industry or the People

Bonnie Castillo

The 2020 election cycle has only just begun, and although no single leader has emerged from a pack of democratic contenders — an issue has certainly emerged, right out of the gate, as a standout in the race: Medicare for All.

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The author writes, on behalf of nurses:

“We’ll be driving calls to our legislators to sign on to Rep. Jayapal’s bill.”

i wish this was not their stance, prior to even reading the draft legislation. They should instead be communicating clearly to Jayapal and the Democratic establishment:

“We’ll be driving calls to our legislators to sign on to Rep. Jayapal’s bill, or demanding changes to Rep. Jayapal’s bill so that it meets the gold standard for single-payer legislation: Universal coverage, no payment for service, and no role for the insurance industry.”


It’s the gold standard of expanded, improved MFA or nothing.

If ObamaRomneyCare taught me one thing, it was that if you want to solidify/subsidize health insurance industry profits at the expense of actual healthcare coverage, then accept half measures and bullshit excuses from the Beto O’Rourkes of the world.


Looks like NNU uses Twitter as a main outreach platform. i’m not on Twitter, but can someone who is, tweet this message @ their accounts, @nationalnurses and @nnubonnie?

Jayapal’s bill must meet the gold standard for single-payer: Universal coverage, no payment for service, no role for the insurance industry

That’s 140 characters


Hm. On the face of it, Castillo - and, by extension, the mighty NNU union - uncompromisingly demand an HR 676-type version of healthcare for all: the version that calls for replacing the private medical insurance industry with a version in which the federal government, using tax monies, becomes the ‘single payer’ of all medical bills.

That idea is embedded:

  • in the article title (which frames the issue as a contest between a democratic, movement-driven healthcare for all vs. the “health insurance industry”);
  • in the language of the article (which, again, attacks the “health-care industry,” “market-based care,” “corporate attacks” and “half measures”);
  • and in the article links (which attack “insurance companies [that] continue to soak-up billions of health care dollars” and demand “single payer.”

Not a word of Sanders or his inferior bill…instead, NNU seems to…assume…that Jayapal’s impending bill will be the real deal.

What to make of it? The NNU leadership has to be aware of the questions that have been raised about whether Jayapal’s bill will call for replacing private insurance with single payer (see today’s CD open letter to Jayapal, e.g.). And so it seems that they are proceeding hopefully…and that, probably, they will ultimately be prepared to accept a ‘multipayer’ vs. single payer version as a ‘major step forward.’

We shall soon see…

btw - for those who’ve missed the criticism of Sander’s bill:

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Health Over Profit for Everyone (HOPE) is the main organization demanding Jayapal’s imminent bill meets the HR676 single payer standard. Physicians for a National Health Plan (PNHP) supports it, and there is some member overlap - essentially, HOPE appears to be PNHP’s more progressive, activist wing.

Here is info about ‘half measure’ vs ‘real deal’ healthcare for all legislation now in the offing, and how you can add your voice to demands for a real deal that eliminates the private medical insurance industry:


Winston Churchill once said something like, “The Americans will always do the right thing… after they’ve exhausted all the alternatives”

I hope he’s right because we have exhausted the alternatives, in one way or another miserable all, to Medicare for All.

Problem is that we have yet to read the draft proposal.

My answer to them:


I am and have been very involved in Vermont in educating and reaching out to the public as this is crucial to expanding support. While Southern Vermont has many activists this is not so in the Northern area of Vermont and part of our one of many planned events includes two workshops: one for those with more questions and one for those wishing to improve advocacy skills. This is a good way to find activists, inform the public and expand support while countering all the lies out there. One group that has been particularly targeted with these lies and fear mongering is seniors. We have a May 6 event in Burlington to address seniors and more will follow.

We are also planning events where we form coalitions with environmental groups and activists and beyond.

Here is our press release about our upcoming events in solidarity with NNU call to action that they declined to post:


Conversation on Medicare for All

Marvin Malek , MD, MPH, from Berlin, VT, and Betty Keller, MD, from St. Johnsbury, VT, will lead a discussion on " What would EXPANDED, IMPROVED MEDICARE FOR ALL look like? And how can we get there? " at the Richmond Free Librar y, 201 Bridge Street, Richmond VT, on Monday, February 11, at 3 PM and repeated at 6:30 PM.

“Participants don’t have to be 'true believers’ of Medicare for All, so they may not all want to stay for the workshops that follow each discussion,” Keller noted. “But often we find that people are asking, ‘What can I do to help?’ So we wanted to offer some training, and enable people to walk out with a concrete product they already made, or a new skill that they feel ready to start using.”

When they choose groups after the discussion, Malek will be available to answer questions and lead further conversation.

Those who wish to learn advocacy skills may wish to bring a laptop or tablet, if they have one, for some of the workshops. Depending on participants’ interests, workshops may include helping people increase their skills in writing letters to the editor and to legislators; finding legislators, bills, and resources online; initiating conversations on health care for all; and making public service announcements.

Among those leading the advocacy skills training along with Keller will be Tanya Vyhovsky, an activist with Rights and Democracy Vermont. Vyhovsky said, “As a social worker, I see the impacts of lack of access to adequate care in my office daily. I am also a person who has personally been affected by lack of access, so I understand this struggle from many viewpoints.”

Katheryn Van Haste, Senator Sanders’ Health Policy staffer , plans to attend the afternoon session, and at least two state legislators expect to attend a session, to hear their constituents’ concerns.

Portions of the event will be televised by MMCTV , which will also assist in editing PSAs, if any are recorded during the training.

This event is co-sponsored by Vermont Physicians for a National Health Program (pnhp.org), and Rights and Democracy Vermont (radvt.org) and is planned in coordination with national events across the country as part of National Nurses United week of actions, February 9-13. Richmond Free Library is at 201 Bridge St., Richmond .


Richmond Free Library



Finally, many of us want to see the actual wording of Jayapal’s rewriting of the gold standard of H.R. 676 before rallying behind it.

Thank you and in solidarity in achieving a truly universal, dignified healthcare system for everyone!

Giovanna Lepore


Health Over profit is on the case. Feb. 11 is a day for the next Teleconference (it’s free) and consider joining us.


@baska, @Giovanna-Lepore, thanks for the HOPE info!

my pleasure (and g-l’s too, no doubt), let’s spread the news…

Insurance co’s are an obstacle to care. With universal single-payer they are not necessary (as if they ever were) – everyone is in the pool.

Insurance seeks the young and healthy to pay premiums to pay for care (and profits). If the new and improved M4A includes premiums, yearly deductibles and/or co-pays – we’re just spinning our wheels.


The best quote I have heard from any politician came from (or all people!) Senator Kamala Harris who asked, “Why should the health insurance industry exist in the first place? All they are doing is making money off of other people’s misfortune.” It sounds great until you realize that Harris, along with the likes of Biden, Corey Booker, and other billionaire political suck ups are the favorites of the organized money crowd for the Democratic nomination in 2020. The devil is always in the details which several other posters have already done a good job delineating.

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Yup, and yup. My example comes from the VA. I’ve read the criticisms over the years but my VA care is very good and almost free (had I been combat assigned everything would be free) - except, of course that it is paid from taxes which I also pay. But it beats the heck out of insurance, which I had only a few times as an employee and couldn’t afford as a freelancer.

But the ACA did do one big thing for me. Because of the insurance or penalty aspect I finally signed up at the VA. I had not done so for years (I was in the Air Force from 1968-72) because I was not in a combat assignment and assumed the VA wasn’t for me. Silly, I know now.

In any case my largest pay outs are copays for a couple of prescriptions. Last year it totaled all of $30 even. $30 for a year, during which I had exams, labs, vaccinations, ultrasound and I’ve forgotten what all, for free, including even a blood pressure monitor (first year). What’s more they make a point of keeping up with me in terms of appointments and available vaccines and consultations. I’ve had them call me to make sure that I knew what the latest labs indicated and whether to come in for a follow up. In my experience, at least, they really seem to work hard for us.

I’ve got a couple of friends with Agent Orange problems, one a ground-pounding ex-marine and the other an ex Air Force radio technician who was exposed by working on radios in Agent Orange saturated C-123s. Both praise their care, even though the former radio tech had to go to court to fight for his classification for disability benefits - that is the fault of administrative policies and doesn’t affect the care he lauds.

This is what we should have, and not Medicare for All, just Care For All. Despite criticisms, we could do a lot worse than to follow the VA example, such as the screwed up multi-“system” we have now.

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When referring to the health insurance “industry”, I always put quotation marks around “industry”. Why? Because industries are supposed to produce something, but the health insurance “industry” produces nothing but profits for its owners and misery for everyone else. We need to declare ourselves as abolitionists_emphasized text__- we need to abolish_the health insurance “industry”. Yes, provide retraining for the workers who will lose their jobs, there is plenty of useful work to be done…_

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Excellent post. i take it a step further, and propose we abolish the profit-driven, limited-liability, investor-owned corporation altogether, in every sector, not just insurance.

The first publicly-traded, investor-owned, limited-liability corporation was – literally – created to carry out colonization, the Dutch East India Company. The model is colonizing: grab resources and people, and turn them into profits, by any means necessary. The literal enslavement and mass murder that the original colonizers carried out, are in the DNA of the modern corporation. Today’s corporations have way better PR and propaganda, but the outcomes are actually similar for lands and peoples.

The model itself needs to be abolished, and i’m working on framing and language to promote a New Abolitionism.