Medicare for All Means Biggest Take-Home Raise in Generations; Week of Action Roundup; Americans Don’t Like Employers Being in Control

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.

MEDICARE FOR ALL WOULD GENERATE HUGE, EFFECTIVE TAX CUT

An increasing amount of research and analysis is forcefully debunking the insurance and for-profit hospital industries’ scare tactics and claims about how Medicare for All would affect Americans’ wallets.

In a recent opinion piece in The Guardian, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, professors of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, explain that insurance premiums are functionally identical to a tax because both are mandatory and reduce take-home pay and wages. And as the economists say, because premiums are not based on income, “The secretary pays the same amount as the executive.”

But under Medicare for All, health costs would be primarily covered through progressive taxation, with the wealthy and corporations paying more, which would benefit lower-income and middle-class Americans and leave them with more in their paychecks.

“Funding universal health insurance through taxes would lead to a large tax cut for the vast majority of workers,” Saez and Zucman wrote. “It would abolish the huge poll tax they currently shoulder, and the data show that for most workers, it would lead to the biggest take-home pay raise in a generation.”

WEEK OF ACTION; PHILLY AND SAN FRAN RALLIES

As part of a week of action, activists last week called on their local officials to pass resolutions in support of Medicare for All, during which 30 new efforts were launched across the country.

To help increase awareness and success of these resolutions, heavy hitters in the Medicare for All held a virtual town hall, which was watched by more than 33,000 people.

Speakers in the town hall included U.S. Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.,) co-sponsors of Medicare for All legislation (H.R. 1384) in the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as the mayor pro tempore of Durham, N.C., grassroots activists, physicians and national leaders who discussed how to translate this growing momentum into congressional action.

“I’m outraged because this is outrageous,” Pressley said. “We are a country that quite literally punishes you if you’re sick or poor or pregnant or black. Being sick shouldn’t push you into poverty and poverty shouldn’t push you into sickness.”

Also as part of the week of action, during the Physicians for a National Health Program’s (PNHP) annual meeting on Friday, Nov. 1, single-payer activists rallied in downtown Philadelphia to urge U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans (D-Pa.), who represents part of the city and sits on the influential House Ways and Means Committee, to co-sponsor Medicare for All legislation in the House.

The Philadelphia City Council passed a resolution in support of Medicare for All in March 2018, and Councilmember Helen Gym, who introduced the legislation, spoke forcefully at the rally about how the for-profit health care system is failing residents of Philadelphia.

Also, as part of the week of action, on Saturday, Nov. 2, the California Nurses Association / National Nurses United and allies held a statewide rally and march in San Francisco and held a “die-in” in front of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s district office, calling on her to move forward H.R. 1384.

AMERICANS DON’T LIKE BEING AT THE MERCY OF THEIR EMPLOYERS

According to a new poll, Americans don’t like having their employers controlling their health insurance.

Seventy percent of voters strongly oppose a central feature of our current employer-based insurance system; employers being allowed to change or eliminate an employee’s health insurance against the employee’s wishes, according to the Emerson poll.

“Having employees get insurance from their employers puts workers’ health at the mercy of their bosses,” said Eagan Kemp, Public Citizen’s health care advocate. “Medicare for All would free these employees and allow them to make career choices without having to worry about losing their coverage.”

This opinion is not surprising considering recent controversies around Whole Foods and General Motors which modified or canceled insurance for many of their employees without their consent.

REMINDER: Our health care spending is estimated to continue rising and will reach nearly $6 trillion a year by 2027, meaning we will spend around $47 trillion on health care over the next decade if we maintain the status quo. Comparable countries generally spend about 10-12% of their GDP on health care, while in the U.S. that number is 18% and projected to grow.

A study from the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst found the U.S. could reduce total health spending over a 10-year period by more than $5 trillion. PERI found that Medicare for All spending would be approximately $37.8 trillion from 2017 to 2026, compared with the CMS estimates of the current U.S. health care system costing $42.9 trillion during that same period.

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.