Universal Coverage

In U.S. politics, the Hyde Amendment is a legislative provision barring the use of federal funds to pay for abortion except to save the life of the woman, or if the pregnancy arises from incest or rape. Legislation, including the Hyde Amendment, generally restricts the use of funds allocated for the Department of Health and Human Services and consequently has significant effects involving Medicaid recipients. Medicaid currently serves approximately 6.5 million women in the United States, including 1 in 5 women of reproductive age (women aged 15–44).

Federal dollars can't be used to pay for abortion outside of the above restrictions, but Medicaid is funded via hybrid federal/state funding, so there are 15 states where Medicaid does pay for abortion using the state's portion of the funding.

 

Vice-President Mike Pence, best known for botching the response to an HIV outbreak while Governor of Indiana (causing up to 200 additional residents to be infected with the disease due to his poor handling of it) has, naturally, now been put in charge of the federal response to the #COVID19 outbreak nationally:

On Wednesday February 26, President Trump placed Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the response to the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. The gesture was partly politics—signaling the disease was important enough to require the vice president’s attention—but also built on a claim about Pence’s expertise as the former governor of Indiana. As he assigned him to this task, the president praised Pence, maintaining that Indiana under his leadership was a model for the country in its approach to health.

 

My post from yesterday was pretty harsh on a Medicare for All advocate (though not on Medicare for All itself, contrary to what some people seem to think), so I figured I should follow up with something a bit friendlier today. Via Helaine Olin in the Washington Post:

Osmel Martinez Azcue wanted to do the right thing, for both his own health and the health of the nation. When the Florida resident came down with flu-like symptoms shortly after returning from a trip to China, he immediately went to a local hospital to get tested for coronavirus.

A few weeks later, according to the Miami Herald, Azcue received an invoice for more than $3,000. His insurer claims he’s responsible for $1,400 of the total. He’s expecting even more bills to arrive over the next few weeks.

For years now, I (along with many others) have criticized Bernie Sanders for the big blank section of his "pure" Medicare for All single payer healthcare proposal. He's kind of, sort of given some ideas about how he proposes paying for it in the past, but yesterday he finally released an updated, revised list of additional taxes, loophole cuts and so forth which he claims would cover the total cost.

Since I've given him so much grief before, and since I did a detailed write-up about Elizabeth Warren's proposal last fall, I owe him some coverage of his new pay-for proposal as well. Let's take a look:

According to a February 15, 2020 study by epidemiologists at Yale University, the Medicare for All bill that Bernie wrote would save over $450 billion in health care costs and prevent 68,000 unnecessary deaths – each and every year.

I don't normally post blog entries about the occasional Twitter flare-ups I get into with die-hard Medicare for All supporters, but this one strikes me as being especially noteworthy for several reasons.

David Klion is the News Editor at JewishCurrents and a writer for The Nation and The New Republic. As you can imagine, he's a pretty left-wing/progressive kind of guy, and a devout Bernie Sanders supporter. He has a verified account (as I do) and has about 55,000 Twitter followers (compared to my 35,000, FWIW). In other words, both of us have small but respectable followings on social media and are what the powers that be would likely consider "low-level" (?) Twitter influencers.

He and I have followed each other on Twitter for several years. We don't directly talk to each other very often, however.

Anyway, about an hour ago, Klion posted a thread with an admittedly depressing and all-too-common Consumer Hell story about his health insurance woes. I'm reposting the whole thing here; it is indeed an indictment of our current system. I've cleaned up the formatting for readability:

 

Tuesday, December 10th, is gonna be a pretty big day for federal healthcare policy, especially in the U.S. House of Representatives.

For one thing, it's my understanding that the big Prescription Drug Bill (H.R. 3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act) is scheduled for a floor vote on Tuesday, although it's possible that it'll be bumped until later in the week given the grumbling by the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

For another, the House Energy & Commerce Committee is holding what I'm assuming are all-day hearings on not one, not two, but nine different Universal Coverage bills, including the Big Ones: Medicare for All and Medicare for America:

HEARING ON "PROPOSALS TO ACHIEVE UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE COVERAGE"

Date: Tuesday, December 10, 2019 - 10:30am

 

Please watch this interview with Hillary Clinton. The whole thing is worth watching, but the portion about healthcare policy and the best route forward starts at around 9:20 in and runs less than 7 minutes, to 16:00 (It's supposed to be cued up to exactly 9:20 but you may have to scrub forward to get to it depending on your device).

Please take 6 minutes and 40 seconds out of your day to actually listen to the words which are coming out of her mouth.

UPDATE: Full, verbatim transcript by yours truly:

Andrew Ross Sorkin: “I want to talk to you a little bit about healthcare, because I know it’s an issue that you care about deeply and have thought a lot about.”

Hillary Clinton: “I have.”

Sorkin: “Because we seem to be in a very divided world, not just among two different parties, but even within the Democratic Party. Medicare for All versus a Public Option. You look at what Elizabeth Warren presented last week, and you think...what?”

I've written many times before about how polling on the issue of "Medicare for All" has consistently proven that many Americans are confused about what the phrase actually means.

While a majority of the country keeps saying they want "Medicare for All", poll after poll has shown that a huge chunk of those who say so think it means "Medicare for All Who Want It"...that is, they think it refers to a Public Option, where it's up to them whether their major medical coverage would be public or private. This is true even among Democrats, who obviously support the concept in higher numbers than Republicans or Independents.

Yesterday a new poll came out from Monmouth University which mostly just confirms this point...

(IMPORTANT: As my friend Shawn Pierce keeps pointing out, the phrase "Medicare for All" has two very different meanings...one is the brand "Medicare for All", which simply refers to any healthcare plan which ensures 100% universal, comprehensive healthcare coverage for everyone; the other is the specific bills introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders and/or Rep. Pramila Jayapal, which would indeed completely eliminate private major medical insurance for 100% of the population as well as completely eliminating all out-of-pocket costs in favor of 100% federal public funding).

For months now, California Senator and Presidential candidate Kamala Harris has repeatedly struggled with how to address her support of Bernie Sanders' 100% mandatory, $0 out-of-pocket-cost, 100% comprehensive "pure" single payer "Medicare for All" healthcare bill.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Since June 2019, I've been contracted with the Center for American Progress to provide healthcare data analysis & advocacy on their behalf on a part-time basis.

NOTE: This is not an in-depth analysis, for three reasons:

  • Third, I have a bit of a personal/household crisis to deal with this week (don't worry...no one's sick, dead or getting divorced, but our house is in need of some serious attention)

If you've been reading my site for more than a couple of years, you know that back in February 2018 I fell in love (well, mostly) with a new Universal Healthcare Coverage proposal from the Center for American Progress called "Medicare Extra for All" or simply "Medicare Extra".

So, this is a thing which happened:

Had a great time discussing #MedicareForAll opposite @charles_gaba on Medicare for America for Ferndale Dems. Happy to report no one was called a neoliberal or a Bernie bro.

Follow @detroitdsam4a and @dsam4a for more on M4A. Charles' work can be found at https://t.co/RTP68atFhA

— Kyle Minton (@JuniorMinton) May 17, 2019

*("major" is obviously a subjective term depending on who's using it.)

Until this weekend, "Medicare for All or Bust" seemed to be the most critical litmus test for any major 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate. No fewer than sixteen Democratic Senators co-sponsored Bernie Sanders' S.1804 "Medicare for All" single payer bill in September 2017, including five of the six U.S. Senators currently running for the 2020 nomination: Sanders himself, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren (the only Senator running who didn't cosponsor the bill was Amy Klobuchar.)

Recently, however, there have been a few interesting developments along the "Where do the Dem candidates stand on healthcare policy" front:

 

via Clarisse Loughrey of The Independent:

Early concept art has revealed a very different look for Toy Story's dynamic duo, Woody and Buzz Lightyear.

Pixar's first feature started life as a full-length take on their short Tin Story, which saw a mechanical drummer attempting to navigate his way through a baby's playroom. The drummer was soon ditched for a more glamorously conceived "space toy" named Lunar Larry, later renamed Buzz Lightyear in honour of famed astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin.

The original concept pitched its drummer against an antagonistic ventriloquist's dummy, who gradually evolved into a pull-string cowboy doll named Woody, inspired by Western actor Woody Strode.

Yes, Woody was originally the bad guy; though his character didn't prove popular with his voice actor Tom Hanks, who reportedly shouted "This guy is a jerk!" while recording lines for the story reel.

In U.S. politics, the Hyde Amendment is a legislative provision barring the use of federal funds to pay for abortion except to save the life of the woman, or if the pregnancy arises from incest or rape. Legislation, including the Hyde Amendment, generally restricts the use of funds allocated for the Department of Health and Human Services and consequently has significant effects involving Medicaid recipients. Medicaid currently serves approximately 6.5 million women in the United States, including 1 in 5 women of reproductive age (women aged 15–44).

Federal dollars can't be used to pay for abortion outside of the above restrictions, but Medicaid is funded via hybrid federal/state funding, so there are 15 states where Medicaid does pay for abortion using the state's portion of the funding.

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