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Giant Steps – The Next Stage in the Fight for Medicare for All


Giant Steps – The Next Stage in the Fight for Medicare for All

Zenei Cortez

The long journey toward transforming our health care system to ensure that all our nation’s people get the care they need is entering its next major phase.

In the coming days, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, with dozens of House co-sponsors, is expected to introduce an updated version of a House Medicare for All bill, a significant step toward a real reform that is now favored by up to 70 percent of Americans.


Medicare for ALL needs to be the litmus test for the Democrats in 2020. Many will need to be primaried, but so what. Corporate “Democrats” need to go the way of the dodo bird. While in principle I like the idea of a third party, my instinct tells me that the best play is for the People to take back the Democratic party by purging its organizational structure of corporate corruption.


Cortez sez:
“The barrier to transformative health care reform is not cost or political expediency, it is political will.”

And cash. Great gobs of cash.


Medicare-For-All will be the last straw for the Democrats.

If they fail in 2020, they will never recover.

The conversation will immediately turn to alternatives in “New” progressive political parties which are needed to represent the People as the two existing parties have not produced results.


All that you mentioned are great ideas Zenei, just one little problem, what political party are you planning on rolling out this legislation? The Dems? Stand-by for their watered-down version that will include insurance company profits. You must mean the Greens, oh wait, the majority wouldn’t vote for them, claiming they couldn’t win, and chose to stay with the Dems, we’re about to find out how that’s not going to work out for them, or the rest of us.


We are already paying for it. We are not getting what we pay for. It is time for National Improved Medicare for All. We’ve been paying. It’s time we started getting what we’ve been paying for.

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Jayapal has thus far refused to share the Bill with the National Improved Medicare for All activist community. Therefore, we have no idea what it is. The suspicion based on the little that has been released, is that the Bill has been weakened considerably and falls way short of the former National Improved Medicare for All (HR-676) that has been the Gold Standard since 2003.


PEOPLE! Pay attention to Tom Johnson1, Alan, and Reconfire (despite her/his usual nihilism): Medicare is NOT single-payer, and is not even close to comprehensive heath care, even with the couple of hundred dollars a month from my state-provided retiree health plan (part of which was already withheld from my paycheck), plus another $70 or so deducted from my pension each month for partial dental and vision coverage.

Every time I see or hear the phrase “Medicare For All” without the qualifier IMPROVED, I feel like I’m going to throw up. It is a foolish scam to avoid the fight over the end of for-profit health care FINANCING (with the actual provision of health care to remain in the private sector), which is unavoidable if we are ever to have a health care system on a par with those of many LDCs (Less Developed Countries). The numbers and the power simply don’t work otherwise. (Some “advanced” societies still permit private supplementary insurance for the obscenely wealthy who want coverage for costly procedures that have little to do with health.)

We don’t know for certain what Primala Jayapal is cooking up at Sanders’ behest, but the simple fact that it is being done in secret does not bode well. It is likely to become another half-measure that corporate Democrats are willing to fight for, like “Obamacare” and Medicare itself, and like Hillarycare (1993) and a plan c. 1946 that never made it to a vote in either house of Congress.

If there were any way to provide modest modern health care to an entire population other than universal taxation and abolition of for-profit medical insurance, the 30-40 countries that now have such programs, at significantly lower cost and significantly better health outcomes than in this country, would have discovered and adopted them.


From Vermont:


What would expanded, improved medicare for all look like? And how can we get there? Come to the Richmond Free Library on Monday, Feb 11, for an interactive event led by doctors from Vermont Physicians for a National Health Program (pnhp.org), and cosponsored by Rights and Democracy Vermont (radvt.org), to share your thoughts and learn from each other.

Members of the pubic are invited to choose from two sessions, depending on which time works better for their schedule: 3 PM or 6:30 PM.

Each session will begin with a discussion on what Improved Medicare for All would look like. barriers to change. and possible paths to achieving health care for all in the United States. Dr. Marvin Malek, MD, MPH, of Berlin, VT, and Dr. Betty Keller, MD, of St. Johnsbury, VT, will lead the opening discussion.

Then participants will choose from among small groups for additional understanding and experience.

This event is planned in coordination with events across the country as part of the National Nurses United Week of Action, Feb. 9 - 13.

At least two legislators plan to attend at least one of the sessions to hear their constituents’ concerns. The public is encouraged to not only attend, but invite their health care providers and friends to participate in one of the discussions at Richmond Free Library, at 201 Bridge Street in Richmond, on Monday, Feb. 11, at 3 PM and repeated at 6:30 PM. For more information, please call the library at 802-434-3036.

My letter to the editors:

Dear Editor:

Nature herself is teaching us the interdependence of all her systems as she is bringing this obvious fact to us under the most dire warnings of a planet having a fever and collapsing Eco-systems. What this means is that, we as a people, as a nation, as a member of the global community of nations need a healthy people and a healthy environment to live, let alone to thrive. These issues are interdependent along with peace, justice and equality.

So, here in Vermont and in solidarity with National Nurses United, VT PNHP and Rights & Democracy are organizing efforts to have everyone covered and healthy. In souther Vermont, activists have been reaching out to our elected officials and in northern Vermont, under the sponsorship of the VT branch of Physicians For A National Health Program , co-sponsorship of Rights & Democracy these groups are launching another drive to reach the people of Vermont.

The first event in Northern VT is scheduled for February 11 and it will feature, perhaps unusually so, two similar events in the same place, repeating so that people can choose the time more convenient for them. The first is from 3pm-4:30pm and the second from 6:30-8:30pm . These events will be hosted by the Richmond Free Library.

The planned activities for the February 11 events are outlined in informational flyers entitled: What would Expanded, Improved Medicare For All Look Like? Each event will start with conversation with PNHP doctors Marvin Malex, MD, and Betty Keller, MD, on what we would like Medicare For All to look like and how to get there. For the remainder of the session, participants can choose additional time for discussion with Dr. Malek or building advocacy skills with Dr. Keller. The 3 PM event is one and a half hours, while the 6:30 event will have more time for advocacy activities.

Giovanna Lepore


HI WiseOwl and that makes perfect sense. I wonder if the corporate DEMOcrats know that DEMOS means the PEOPLE? They better figured it out really fast if they don’t know, because so many of us think that they have morphed the party into the Corprocrats.


The population already pays more per capita for medical care than do citizens of any nation with socialized care. We also receive less care and worse care than at least most.


Quite so, meaning that under a GENUINE single-payer system most households should have a smaller increase in our taxes than what we save from not paying premiums, co-pays, deductibles, items not covered, etc. and would still have better care than in the current health care as luxury situation.

Some progressivity would need to be built into the tax to cover the people who earn so little income they can barely afford food, much less insurance. That could be simply a part of general tax reform, in which those with higher income (or wealth: cf. Elizabeth Warren’s proposal) pay a larger percentage of it in tax.

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Let’s hand them a litmus test that requires more than one response. Which of the following does not seem to be a deal-breaker?

  • A legitimate candidate will attempt to reduce violations of democratic process
  • A legitimate candidate will attempt to reduce US violations of democratic process abroad (cf particularly coups and attempts in Honduras, Venezuela, Ukraine, and Brazil).
  • A legitimate candidate will work to stop US military engagements abroad
  • A legitimate candidate will work to stop the encircling of Russia and China
  • A legitimate candidate will work to remove the mechanisms for the regular violation of the Bill of Rights–so-called “Patriot Act,” NSA snooping, torture gulag
  • A legitimate candidate will work towards a potentially permanent regenerative culture, including better energy and resource management by robust local economies, to cease the ongoing destruction of the support for human and other life.

Opinions vary in all sorts of ways, but it seems to me that behind this (very incomplete) set of propositions and behind the propositions that are actually enacted by government and business are two oppositional, largely mutually exclusive sets of assumption. Of course someone must ask, “Are we really going to find a candidate that agrees with all that?” But I think it is at least as valid to ask whether a candidate who thinks that the world’s resources should be burnt in wars for the dominance of one small part of a population will ever possibly believe that food or water or healthcare or “life, liberty, and property” should be allotted to all people.


Health Over Profit has a petition letter you can sign demanding Jayapal include key elements of single payer - including, first of all, no private insurers to drive up costs:


Medicare for all - what joke that is. Everyone on it that I know thinks it is ‘so great’ yet they pay through the nose monthy for it and all the supplementary policies one needs to actually maintain health. And stil cannot get the medicines that will actually work for their illnesses just the cheapest possible substitutes that are not what they need.

As long as Pharma, private medical systems and private health insurance companies are involved it is not a policy any of us should be supporting if we truly want a healthy populace from birth to death.

Single payer national healthcare. The only thing that should be advocated for. Paid for through graduated taxes no one can avoid in any way. I will not vote for anyone advocating anything less than actual healthcare for all. The SAME healthcare for Mr Bezos and my trash collector. Done with these Mickey Mouse ideas


I woulld like to heart your post a thousand times. This Medicare for all scam sickens me especially as I am approaching having to sign on to this kleptocratic corrupt plan in a few more years…


Yes, but are you clear regarding the distinction between “Medicare for All” and “Improved Medicare for All,” either Conyers’ old HR 676 or any of several similar proposals OTHER than that which we suspect Ms. Jayapal to be cobbling up? If not, see my earlier comment, around no. 11 above.


Thanks for the notice, Giovanna.

Evidently PNHP’s good action is regional, as they recently hosted a similar event at my local library in Queens, NYC.


As far as I can see there is no distinction between any of these proposals. They are all based on the same flawed premise. I thought I was pretty clear I found any idea of continuing or so called expanding Medicare with Mickey Mouse add and subtract but I guess not! I advocate for nothing but full government run healthcare, full government control over Pharma in what is researched, produced and priced, doctors on salary based on outcomes and the system paid for by a highly progressive tax structure. I don’t know how much clearer I can be in my outline.


For starters, HR 676 would include phasing out private health care insurance completely, and so would some other IMFA proposals, so by definition cover “everyone.”

You are absolutely correct that the goal is comprehensive health coverage for everyone financed entirely from new taxes (potentially offset in part by reductions in some others), and ASAP. And there’s the rub.

That phaseout of private insurance is not as simple as it seems. With about a half million employees unwinding that sector makes turning a battleship look like child’s play, even though it is “only” about 0.7 percent of the work force. One of the shortcomings of HR 676, agreed by most people who have studied the matter to be the best plan put forth in the US, is that its outline for that transition is sketchy and so short as to be unworkable. I seem to recall it being three years, but a comment in another current CD forum has it at ONE year (with the Jayapal plan which no one has seen supposedly extending that to two years). That is one reason that many people are looking to expand and improve Medicare rather than start over from scratch.

In general, moving from the current non-system (systematic only in extracting outrageous sums from the public for third-rate, third-world public health) to a modern single-payer system is a Herculean project. It could be considered a small warm-up for the much larger reconfiguration of global industry that needs to be well underway within the next 10-15 years in order to keep the planet habitable by us. The politics aside, it is a much larger and much more complicated task than many people seem to believe. And remember, NO current proposal (as far as I know) would nationalize the provision of health care, only the financing.

For example, that “everyone” that we want to be covered by the new system is ambiguous. Some countries with national health plans cover literally everyone, including tourists who become injured or ill. I think some even include persons not legally in the country. Others are limited to citizens. Some countries make the national insurance plan and its tax apply to everyone but also allow private plans to offer services not included in the national plan, and there may be one or two such proposals in the US. No plan that I know of covers all possible medical procedures for everyone. For example, persons in late stages of illnesses that are always fatal beyond a certain point may be denied treatments that would keep them alive and functioning for only a few more days or weeks. Some systems include comprehensive vision, dental, and hearing care, some do not. (Medicare covers certain vision procedures such as cataract surgery, but not glasses or hearing aids.)

Again: As citizens of the wealthiest country in the world, we deserve the best health care system in the world. But we also have one of the most unequal income distributions among the 33 developed countries. (It was THE most unequal less than ten years ago when that group included only 25-30 countries, and it may still be so.) As noted above, there are good reasons to expand and improve a fairly good but abysmally piecemeal and incomplete system (Medicare and Medicare, plus the VA and several other entities) rather than disband that system and start over from scratch. But regardless of the name and the ultimate structure of the system, the goal is as stated in my second paragraph above. Do a web search (NOT with “Don’t Be Evil, Inc.”!) on the string “improved medicare for all,” and note especially the item from popularresistance.org. Margaret Flowers (a burned-out pediatrician) and her partner Kevin Zeese are relatively unbiased experts on this topic have been in the forefront of this and many other movements for years.