A Timeline Of Betrayals From Progressives
Two years ago, in the summer of 2020, after dropping out of the race for president, Bernie Sanders teamed up with Joe Biden to come up with a united, bold vision for the Democratic Party. The goal of the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force, according to Bernie, was to move the Biden campaign into as progressive a direction as possible.
Out of this task force came a 110-page policy wish list that became the basis for Bernies proclamation that Joe Biden could be the next FDR.
Months before this, on March 10, 2020, just three days before lockdowns cascaded across the country, Biden signaled to the healthcare industry that hed protect their profits and if elected, he would veto any Medicare for All legislation that reached his desk. Bernie, on the other hand, was proposing making it illegal to sell any private health insurance that covered benefits offered by a Medicare for All system.
So what did these political rivals manage to agree to in their Unity Task Force? A public option for healthcare. This was a major climbdown for Bernie Sanders, but was also an admission from Biden that the Obama-era Affordable Care Act which the New York Timesdescribed as the federal governments biggest attack on economic inequality in decades was deeply insufficient.
This is a tragic foreshadowing of Bernies approach to Biden and the Democratic establishment for the following two years.
Create A Public Option
One of the major pillars of the Joe Biden healthcare plan is to create a public option. Health insurance companies often charge high premiums, and it is important for people to have other options that are more affordable. By creating a public option, people can compare the cost of the public health insurance plan with the cost of a private one. That way, health insurance becomes more affordable, and more people can have access to healthcare.
Rep Ayanna Pressley Says The Pandemic Illustrates The Need For Medicare
But still, the idea of Medicare for All has vanished from the national consciousness surprisingly quickly. Initially after the election, a small sector of the online left, led by Sanders former press secretary Briahna Joy Gray, advocated for leftie Democrats like Ocasio-Cortez to hold Nancy Pelosis speakership hostage unless Pelosi brought a Medicare for All bill to a floor vote. But after that idea failed to win buy-in from lawmakers and the broader left due to strategic concerns that it could backfire, theres not been much talk of the policy.
One of the big factors here is that Biden has effectively turned his biggest gadfly, Sanders, into an ally. After Biden won the primaries, he savvily formed a unity task force to garner buy-in from the Sanders wing of the Democratic electorate. That relationship has carried through into the Biden presidency, and Sanders is now energetically promoting the bills of a Democratic president rather than slamming them as milquetoast.
Biden seems to be setting aside any serious health care reform effort at least for now that could deal with the underlying issues that plague our disgraceful health care system.
Ultimately the low turnout and poor coverage of the Medicare for All marches this weekend showed how much the burgeoning American left requires the backing of a handful of star politicians to make a splash. It still has a long way to go in terms of growth and organization in order to protect itself from being so easily sidelined.
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Congressional Progressive Caucus Celebrates Medicare For All Hearing
WASHINGTON Today, on the occasion of the first hearing on universal health care coverage in the 117th Congress, the Congressional Progressive Caucus celebrated this historic moment for the Medicare For All movement.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus has long championed health care as a right, not a privilege, with a history of members introducing single-payer legislation. Todays Medicare For All Act, introduced by CPC chair Representative Pramila Jayapal and Representative Debbie Dingell in both the 116th and 117th Congress, is the most comprehensive Medicare for All bill yet, providing a clear roadmap to achieving single-payer healthcare. It is co-sponsored by 120 members of Congress in the House similar legislation was introduced in the Senate last Congress by CPC co-founder Senator Bernie Sanders .
For its three decades, CPC members have consistently fought to expand Medicare and access to coverage, including health care benefits for immigrants, equitable gender and LGBTQ+ inclusive coverage, lower cost premiums and prescription drugs, and abortion and reproductive health coverage. In the 116th Congress, for the first time, three committees of jurisdiction held hearings on Medicare for All and the need to expand healthcare coverage. Todays hearing, the first on the bill in the 117th Congress, continues to build necessary momentum and education on the need for Medicare for All. We applaud the House Oversight and Reform Committee for holding this hearing.
What Is Bidens Healthcare Plan
The Joe Biden healthcare plan involves a number of important aspects. The main goal of his plan is to create a public option, improve the Affordable Care Act, reduce prescription drug costs, make it easier for people to access Medicare, and put an end to surprise billing. Even though many people are concerned about the Joe Biden healthcare plan cost, there are a lot of benefits included in this plan. These are the main points of Bidens healthcare plan:
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More Than 100 Representatives Join The Effort But Face Steep Odds In A Closely Divided Congress And With A Skeptic In The White House
House Democrats on Wednesday will renew their effort to enact Medicare-for-all, arguing the year-long pandemic was a wake-up call to replace the nations fragmented health insurance system and betting they can pressure President Biden to embrace a government-run program that he famously rejected.
Everybody is seeing the chaos and the destruction that the pandemic has caused, said Rep. Pramila Jayapal , the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and one of the bills lead authors. And its really making people look and , could we have had something different had we had a Medicare-for-all system in place?
Advocates acknowledge that a Medicare-for-all bill has never cleared a single committee, let alone Congress. But Jayapal, co-lead author Rep. Debbie Dingell and their109 co-sponsors, who represent more than half of the Democratic caucus, argue the case for it has never been stronger. They cite data that the coronavirus disproportionately affected low-income Americans who lacked sufficient health coverage and had preventable preexisting conditions, and that millions of Americans lost their job-based health insurance as businesses shuttered.
What is different this time round is that their most formidable opponent is a president from their own party who won last years Democratic presidential primary after breaking from his rivals embrace of a single-payer health system.
Biden Turning Medicaid Into Welfare For All
The nations largest welfare program, Medicaid, is a total mess. We are fast approaching 100 million people on the program, mostly because of expansions to able-bodied adults. States spend one of every three state budget dollars on the program and more than one of every five of those dollars is spent in error. On top of that, states have been banned from removing ineligible people since early 2020 because of the so-called public health emergency that President Joe Biden keeps extending.
If Medicaid were a person, they would be drowning.
Now, the Biden administrations Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is proposing a new regulation that would make things much worse. The rule would make significant changes to state welfare eligibility processes, adding millions to welfare and adding $100 billion in new costs to taxpayers.
This latest proposed Medicaid rule would be like helping that poor drowning person by throwing them a cement block.
If President Biden is looking to finish off the program and send it to the bottom, he nailed it.
Of course, the administration isnt really hiding its plan. The stated goal of the rule is to maximize enrollment. They talk about retention rates as if its a for-profit business, and how they need to remove barriers to enrollment, as if thats a problem, with nearly a third of the country already on the program.
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Biden On Obamacare Medicare For All: Starting Over Would Be A Sin
Joe Biden says he opposes fellow Democratic presidential contenders push for a Medicare for All program because such an overhaul of the nations health system could not coexist with the Affordable Care Act.
The former vice president, in an exclusive interview with CNNs Chris Cuomo airing on Monday, argued that former President Barack Obamas signature health care law, also known as Obamacare, should be expanded to allow people to buy into government-run coverage.
But he said that starting over would be, I think, a sin.
Thats why Im opposed to any Republican who wants to dismantle it or any Democrat who wants to dismantle it, he said. The idea that youre going to come along and take the most significant thing that happened that any president has tried to do and that got done and dismantle it makes no sense to me.
Biden is the only one of the four top-polling Democratic presidential contenders not to support single-payer health insurance. A switch to single-payer coverage, under a plan proposed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, would require a tax increase, though supporters have said Americans would spend less on health care overall because they would no longer be required to pay insurance premiums, deductibles and copays.
Some Democrats who have backed single-payer plans say private insurance would continue to exist. But that insurance would likely be supplemental, in addition to primary coverage through a government-run plan like Medicare.
What An Hhs Secretary Can Actually Do
Since Biden doesnt support Medicare for All, would Becerras stance really matter?
No, said Joseph Antos, a health care scholar at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute.
“He will not be able to, in this role, push the executive branch or the Congress in this direction in any perceptible way,” said Antos. “About all he could really do is use the waiver process and loosen up the various restrictions that the Trump administration tried to impose on states in the Medicaid programs. But thats not the same thing as single-payer.”
Antos was referring to waivers that states can ask for in order to change how they administer the ACA exchanges or Medicaid.
Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health policy at KFF, said it certainly is possible Becerra could be called upon to consider state waiver proposals to implement single-payer systems.
“He would likely look more favorably on waivers like that than the Trump administration, which was quite clear they wouldnt consider them. He might also view such waivers more positively than an HHS secretary that has not supported Medicare for All,” Levitt wrote in an email. “However, Becerra would not be making decisions on state waivers of such consequence unilaterally.”
Establishing a national single-payer system would require the support of both the president and Congress and neither is ideologically there.
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Where Becerra And Biden Stand On Health Care
Xavier Becerra was elected as a Democrat to represent a Los Angeles district in the U.S. House in 1993. He stayed in Congress 24 years. He resigned in 2017 to accept the position of attorney general of California, which was offered to him by then-Gov. Jerry Brown.
As attorney general, Becerra brought more than 100 legal challenges against the Trump administration for various health, environmental and immigration issues. One of his best-known lawsuits was in support of the Affordable Care Act.
Since Becerra was first elected to Congress, he has been an advocate for single-payer, or universal, health coverage. This type of coverage can take many forms, but by most definitions, it means the federal government would have some role in funding and administering health insurance for the public.
“I do, as I said before, join my colleagues who support the single-payer plan,” Becerra said during a congressional hearing in 1994. “For me, meaningful health care reform means that we must have universal coverage. We must have portability. We must have choice of provider.”
More recently, this approach took on the moniker of Medicare for All, in reference to Sen. Bernie Sanders health care bill with the same name. Sanders bill, first introduced in 2017, was designed to eliminate private health insurance after phasing in government-run health care, funded by raising taxes.
Reviewing Becerras statements, its clear he does support Medicare for All or similar plans.
Political Messaging Around Medicare For All And Radical Californians
In the 2018 and 2020 elections, it was common for Republicans to paint Democrats as “socialists.” Sometimes this was illustrated through their support for Medicare for All or simply being from California.
The same rhetoric is being employed here, said Peterson.
“That Biden, by bringing in these officials from California, and the fact that Nancy Pelosi is speaker of the House, theyre arguing its just showing the infiltration of the radical socialist California state into the federal government,” he said. “But this is ridiculous, because there are not socialist politics, per se, happening in California, and often the California Democrats in Washington are moderate.”
Ultimately though, the goal of an ad like this is to lay the groundwork for future campaigns.
“In a Senate that is split 50-50 and that 50th Democrat is a conservative Democrat, there is opportunity and leverage for Republicans to try and stand in the way,” said Peterson. “The less effective the Biden administration can be, the more effective campaigning will be for Republicans.”
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Another Biden Quote Was Misrepresented By Us President Donald Trump And The Internet
Image Via Spencer Platt/Getty Images
In 2019, Biden said anyone who needs health care, whether theyre documented or undocumented, we have an obligation to see that theyre cared for. So-called “undocumented” individuals already receive emergency care, treatment from federally-subsidized health centers, and varying degrees of coverage from states.
However, Biden did not call for taxpayers to pay for undocumented immigrants’ health care. But he has said undocumented immigrants should be permitted to pay out-of-pocket for unsubsidized insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplace.
In June and July 2020, ahead of the presidential elections, Democratic candidate Joe Bidens various policy platforms were picked apart and in some cases misrepresented by critics, including U.S. President Donald Trump. One particular statement Biden made about health care for so-called “undocumented” immigrants was misreported and presented without context as his policy.
Snopes readers asked us if Biden had ever said that U.S. taxpayers had an obligation to pay for the health care of 11 million “illegal immigrants.” We found that Biden was misquoted, and his actual platform said something very different.
The quote appeared to originate from a clip shared by right-wing media organization BlazeTV, in May 2019. The video carried the title, “Joe Biden Says U.S. Obligated to Give Free Healthcare to ‘Undocumented’ Immigrants.”
If Democrats Are Serious About Expanding Public Programs They Cant Count On The Health Care Industry As Allies
The health care industry can be persuaded that the trade-off is worth it. Its happened before.
The platonic ideal of this framework is the ACA itself, the 2010 law Biden says he wants to build on with this subsidy expansion and a public option. About 80 percent of the ACA was covered by spending cuts or new taxes targeted to the industry.
The industry bought into the law and didnt oppose its passage. It took the deal that is at the heart of this long-held tradition: The coverage expansion would mean more paying customers. It might take a trim in payment rates or on new taxes, but itd make up for it with more volume. And, as it turned out, more than 20 million people were covered by the law.
But the industry may not be willing to make the same kind of bargain with Biden because his proposals dont have the same appeal. The Medicare expansion is opposed by many hospitals and doctors Medicare pays lower rates than private health insurers more people on Medicare means less reimbursement for them.
The industry opposes the public option, which would presumably set rates lower than private insurance so it could charge cheaper premiums, for the same reason. Considering more than half of Americas uninsured already qualify for Medicaid or the ACA, the public option is less a device for expanding coverage than a way to drive down health care costs. And that is exactly why the health care industry would fight fiercely to stop it.
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Does Biden Plan To Protect Obamacare
In short, yes. He plans to strengthen Obamacare while Trump had previously focused on weakening the law. Biden plans to strengthen the ACA by lowering costs for those who buy plans on the exchanges.
Currently, the subsidies for the ACA are based on the costof the middle-coverage silver plan, where consumers are responsible for 30%of healthcare costs for covered benefits. Biden proposes determining subsidieson gold plans where are the next tier up of coverage, where enrollees areresponsible for paying 20% of the cost for covered care.
He also wants to increase subsidies by capping the amountpeople have to pay for their coverage at 8.5% of their income. Currently, thiscap doesnt apply to those making over 400% of the federal poverty line. Hewants to make sure that this cap applies to everyone in the US. This means noAmerican would have to pay more than 8.5% of their annual income on healthinsurance premiums.
Biden also backs the implementation of a Medicare-likepublic option for health insurance coverage.
Like Trump, Biden wants to step in and lower drug costs. While proposing many changes, the Trump administration was not able to put any large-scale policies into place. Biden says he will limit launch prices for drugs with no competition. He also says he will cap prescription drug price increases to inflation as a condition to participate in Medicare and his proposed public option for individual and family insurance.