U.S. Chambers’ Tone-Deaf Campaign; 12 Million Lose Insurance; Unions Members Hit By Increased Premiums

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.

U.S. CHAMBER PROMOTES EMPLOYER INSURANCE AS 12,000,000 AMERICANS LOSE THEIRS

More than 12 million Americans have lost their employer-based insurance due to the coronavirus economic downturn, according to new research from the Economic Policy Institute. Previous research has estimated that number could eventually swell to 27 million or even 43 million before the pandemic is over.

Yet despite this, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has launched a new campaign promoting employer-based insurance while trashing guaranteed health care policies like Medicare for All.

“The Chamber could not be more tone deaf if they tried,” said Melinda St. Louis, director of Public Citizen’s Medicare for All campaign. “I think these 12 million Americans would have something to say about how well the employer-based insurance system is working. Tying health care to employment is just nonsensical and cruel.”

RACIAL DISPARITIES: ‘A FAILING OF OUR HEALTH CARE SYSTEM’

Amid national movements and demonstrations for racial justice, it is important to remember our health care system disproportionately hurts people of color. Black Americans and Hispanics are much more likely to struggle to access affordable health care – leaving many particularly vulnerable during a pandemic.

“There is a reason why people of color are two-and-a-half times more likely to die from coronavirus [than whites],” U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said last Thursday at a virtual townhall. “It is a failing of our health care system. I hope that Medicare for All is part of our cry for justice in this country.”

“People of African decent in this country suffer more from epigenetic impacts on health than any other group,” said Erica Watson, a professor at Eastern Connecticut State University, in the same townhall. “We see the highest incidences of overweight, obesity, cancer, stroke in these groups and even overall premature mortality.”

Winning Medicare for All will not uproot this country’s long legacy of racism in all facets of our society, including health care, but would help close those gaps by guaranteeing health care to all regardless of race, income and residence, and would deliver resources directly to hospitals in underserved communities that historically have experienced discrimination.

UNIONS NOT IMMUNE TO PREMIUM HIKES

Facing staggering financial deficits, SAG-AFTRA is raising its members’ health plan premiums and narrowing eligibility to stay afloat, proving that not even unions are safe from the increasing cost of health care.

The 65,000 workers and family members will see premiums swell to $375 per quarter for one participant and to $747 for family. Additionally, workers under the age of 65 will have to earn at least $25,950 to qualify for insurance benefits, up from $18,040.

“We’ve all seen the headlines – the cost of healthcare continues to rise exponentially,” SAG-AFTRA said. “We have been working diligently to try to control the growing costs of healthcare by negotiating better contracts and reducing costs within our control. However, despite our success at managing costs within our control, ever-increasing healthcare costs have resulted in unsustainable deficits, requiring the use of our reserves to fund current expenses.”

With a national Medicare for All system, unions no longer would need to negotiate their health care. Instead, they could spend more time bargaining for other benefits like wages and paid time off.

PUBLIC CITIZEN’S ADVOCACY AND RESOLUTIONS

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 – most recently in St. Paul, Minn. – and send a powerful signal to Congress that health care is a human right.

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