I vs. We

by Barry Hermanson

I’ve walked a lot of picket lines supporting workers. As a longtime advocate for an Improved Medicare for All, it was disappointing to read about the opposition to Bernie Sanders vision of an Improved Medicare for All by a powerful union of workers before the Nevada caucuses.

An injury to one is an injury to all.

My friend and fellow healthcare advocate Ernie Isaacs recently wrote this letter to the San Francisco Chronicle editor:

“I feel sad for the poor culinary workers in Nevada who are being betrayed by their union leaders who are not supporting Medicare for All. Remember, M4A is not about health care; it is about health care financing. The culinary workers are not giving up anything; they are replacing what they have with something far better. They keep their doctors and nurses and hospitals, they get long term care, and they lose their co-pays and deductibles. Yes, they have fought hard for what they have, but M4A means their fighting is at an end.”

A prominent National Public Radio reporter and commentator uses the term “mandatory” when talking about an Improved Medicare for All. Many people like the healthcare coverage they have and don’t want to give it up.

Bernie Sanders responded that he is working for better healthcare than you enjoy right now. He will not sign a bill that provides less.

Almost everyone in the U.S. is enrolled in Social Security and Medicare. Not everyone receives it – yet. When you retire and start to receive your “mandatory” Social Security checks, you could, of course, give the money away. I doubt many people do. Similarly, when you become eligible for Medicare, 80 percent of the cost for your medical care is covered. An Improved Medicare for All would cover 100 percent.

Physicians for a National Health Plan (PNHP) is nearing the middle of a six-month campaign to highlight key issues in the campaign. The resources they provide to advocates are excellent. A few quotes from January and February are below along with a list of the issues that will be covered from March through June.

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Surprise billing (January)

You think you are insured until a bill comes in the mail. “In 40 percent of hospital visits, insured patients get stuck with huge surprise bills.”

“More than half of Americans say they’ve been hit with a ‘surprise’ medical bill that they thought would have been covered by insurance. These bills are more than just an inconvenience; they can stretch family budgets to the breaking point and the fear of surprise medical bills can cause patients to avoid seeking care in the first place.”

An Improved Medicare for All will end surprise billings.

Racial health inequities (February)

“Minority and low-income communities have fewer health facilities; existing facilities are under-resourced and in danger of closing. People of color are more likely to be uninsured or under-insured.”

“Among today’s 40-year-olds, whites will live nearly six years longer than Blacks.

“Compared to white Americans, Blacks are twice as likely to die from diabetes, seven times more likely to die from HIV/AIDS, 22 percent more likely to die from heart disease, and 71 percent more likely to die from cervical cancer. Black mothers are 320 percent more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications. Black babies are more than twice as likely to die than white babies.”

“Universal comprehensive coverage is proven to reduce or even eliminate health disparities.”

Rural health (March)

Substance abuse and opiods (April)

Maternal and reproductive health (May)

High drug prices (June)

More resources are available here: https://pnhp.org/kitchen-table-campaign/.

I vs. We. If we stand together, we will enjoy better healthcare for everyone. Better than the best plan available today. Improved Medicare for All.

Barry Hermanson is a member of the San Francisco Green Party County Council and a former small business owner. Contact him at Barry@Hermansons.com or 415-255-9494.