Trump Country Supports Medicare for All; Insurers, Trump Cronies Profit From Pandemic

Public Citizen Has You Covered

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 health care industry lies and falsehoods about universal health care. Please send tips, feedback and questions to Mike Stankiewicz, mstankiewicz@citizen.org, (202) 588-7779.

MEDICARE FOR ALL GAINS SPEED, EVEN IN TRUMP COUNTRY

As more Americans die each day as a result of the cruelty of our for-profit health care system, cities and localities are demanding a change – including areas that voted for President Donald Trump.

Last Tuesday residents of Peterborough, N.H. – a small rural town located in the Trump-voting Hillsborough County – voted to approve a resolution in favor of Medicare for All. The county board of La Cross County, Wis. – with a population of almost 120,000 – also voted in favor of a similar resolution last week. Last month, Knoxville, Tenn. – located in a heavily red, Trump-supporting congressional district – passed a similar resolution.

Public Citizen is part of a coalition urging citizens to petition their local governments to pass these resolutions to signal to Congress the strength of this growing movement. In recent months the coronavirus pandemic has galvanized other cities as well, including New Orleans and South Bend, Ind. to demand that Congress finally act to make health care a right for all.

“This pandemic has shown just how broken our health care system is, leading residents and local officials from Trump-voting Hillsborough and Knox counties to politically blue Los Angeles and Philadelphia to increasingly demand Medicare for All,” said Melinda St. Louis, director of Public Citizen’s Medicare for All campaign. “Guaranteed health care is not a partisan issue for voters, and it shouldn’t be for politicians either.”

INSURERS PROFIT AS AMERICANS DIE

Insurance corporations that profit from Americans’ sickness are seeing record profits during the worst pandemic in a century.

Last week UnitedHealth Group posted by far its most profitable quarter in its history – $6.6 billion for Q2 2020. This comes only months after UnitedHealth decided to slash doctors’ pay up to 60% and kick many patients out-of-network and CEO David Wichmann received a 233% raise this year. It also comes after the main health insurer lobbying group begged Congress for relief funds and claimed that insurers’ would be financially hurt by the pandemic – which of course turned out to be a lie.

But it would make sense for UnitedHealth to use those profits they’ve unethically made from the pandemic to bring costs down for coronavirus patients – right? By comparison to that astronomical $6.6 billion in profits from Q2 and $3.5 billion from Q1, the corporation only allocated $1.5 billion to providing discounts for patients – a small fraction that UnitedHealth thought was worth bragging about.

Maybe allowing multibillion-dollar corporations to profit from Americans’ sickness isn’t the most humane idea.

TRUMP CRONY COULD ALSO BE PROFITING

Speaking of making money from the sickness of Americans – the most unethical and profitable presidency in history has reached a new low.

The office of the inspector general at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ruled last week that Operation Warp Speed chief adviser Moncef Slaoui, a former executive at the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, would be allowed to maintain extensive financial investments in the drug industry while making decisions that could financially benefit him. Pharmaceutical corporations have already received more than $6 billion in funds for vaccine and treatment development.

The ruling came in response to a conflicts of interest complaint by Public Citizen in May that sought to have Slaoui be classified as a special government employee and be subjected to ethics rules and disclosure requirements. Slaoui was able to skirt ethics and disclosure rules by working on a “volunteer” basis.

“Sometimes there are no words to describe the blatant corruption, conflicts of interest and inhumanity of this administration,” said Eagan Kemp, health policy advocate for Public Citizen.

PUBLIC CITIZEN’S WORK

Public Citizen has advocated for single-payer health care since our founding in 1971 and has worked for decades to end profiteering and waste in health care – whether from insurers, Big Pharma or hospitals.

Public Citizen is dedicated to building the grassroots movement we will need to win Medicare for All. Along with our 500,000 members and allies, Public Citizen works with local elected officials in cities, counties and towns from coast to coast to pass resolutions supporting Medicare for All and send a powerful signal to Congress that health care is a human right.