Devastating Stories From Our For-Profit System; Resolutions Passed in More Cities; New State-Based Single-Payer Bills

Welcome to this week’s edition of “We’ve Got You Covered,” a weekly tipsheet designed to highlight key news about Medicare for All and call out the biggest industry lies and falsehoods about universal health care. Please send tips, feedback and questions to Mike Stankiewicz at mstankiewicz@citizen.org or (202) 588-7779.

VICTIMS OF THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY SHARE THEIR STORIES

Last week, Public Citizen asked Twitter users to detail some of the worst and most outrageous hospital bills they have received. The responses were heartbreaking, but not shocking:

$986,000 for surgeries which resulted from the original surgeon nicking my intestine during a surgery,” said one patient. “Cut my foot in lake & got blood poisoning. 2.5 weeks in hospital getting IV antibiotics and painkillers, both of which are cheap. I was billed $60,000 AFTER insurance,” said another patient, who was forced into bankruptcy by his medical bills.

One man detailed how his wife was left with an $88,000 bill after an infection she received at a hospital caused a blood clot. “They used her as a guinea pig with steroids to try and treat hyperemesis gravidarum,” he said.

Twitter users from Canada and the United Kingdom also chimed in:

“I’ve had surgery, child birth, a car accident, had a dependent admitted for 3 months and I have never received a hospital bill,” said one user from Quebec. “I had to pay £6 parking in the hospital car park,” said another from Britain.

MORE LOCAL GOVERNMENTS SUPPORT MEDICARE FOR ALL

On Nov. 5, the Los Angeles City Council passed a resolution in support of Medicare for All. Despite gains made since the Affordable Care Act, more than 437,000 Los Angeles residents still lacked health insurance in 2018. City leaders are tired of watching as their residents face financial ruin or early death if they get sick.

Before the vote, more than 30 Los Angeles residents spoke in favor of the resolution, sharing their personal stories before the City Council of how a lack of governor-sponsored health care has affected them.

“I’m a cancer survivor, and I’ve spoken with neighborhood councils about why we need health care for all,” said Cheng-Sim Lin, who has lived in Los Angeles for 35 years and was one of the activists to testify. “Many on the neighborhood council boards will bring up their own experience of health care despair. One board member shared that she worked full-time but, after paying her rent, she can’t afford health insurance. Now she is worried about getting sick. Another got choked up regarding the desperation she often feels as a disabled person who can’t afford the medication she needs.”

Additionally, on Nov. 6, the Bethlehem City Council in Pennsylvania unanimously passed a resolution in support of Medicare for All. Bethlehem, with a population of more than 75,000, was the site of a town hall in April hosted by Fox News at which the audience cheered when asked who liked the idea of replacing private insurance with a government-sponsored plan. That clip received national media attention.

Other major cities that have endorsed Medicare for All include St. Petersburg and Tampa, Fla.; Detroit; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Seattle and Durham, N.C. Public Citizen is leading a grassroots effort to gain support for such measures, with more than 220 local efforts underway across the country.

STATE-BASED MEDICARE FOR ALL BILL HITS THE HOUSE

As congressional lawmakers continue to debate how to move forward on national Medicare for All legislation, a new bill would allow states to jump-start that transition.

On Nov. 8, U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) introduced the State-Based Universal Health Care Act, which would allow states to implement universal health care for their residents. The legislation would allow states to access federal funding streams and simplify required regulations to allow every resident to be covered.

To participate, states or groups of states must propose plans to provide health care coverage for 95% of their residents within five years and then demonstrate how they plan to cover the remaining 5%.

“We are seeing an unprecedented groundswell for state and federal action to fix our broken health care system by breaking down barriers to care and eliminating the ability of corporations to profit off illness and disease,” said Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs at Public Citizen. “This bill would do just that.”

REMINDER: About two-thirds of Medicare for All funding would come from taking public spending streams for health care programs and funneling them to Medicare for All.

Some additional taxes would be needed to pay for Medicare for All, but most Americans would spend less on health care than they do right now.

To speak with a Medicare for All policy expert, or if you have questions about Public Citizen’s work, please contact Mike Stankiewicz at mstankiewicz@citizen.org or (202) 588-7779.