Bringing the Fight to 2023
It’s a new year, which means everyone is coming out of the woodwork to make predictions about what’s in store for 2023. In this episode, we’re going to be making reckless, unverifiable claims about the future of the movement for healthcare justice, the public health crisis in this country, the political landscape, and yes – how an impending alien invasion might impact our fight for Medicare for All!
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Gillian researched some of the predictions other folks have made about the coming year. Gillian is highly qualified to evaluate the veracity of these predictions, as an experienced Tarot reader who once filled in for the legendary Miss Cleo.
- The Living Nostradamus, Brazilian “Investigative Paranormal” Athos Salome, says that Elon Musk will reveal himself to be the Antichrist and start World War III!
- Baba Vanga, the “Nostrodamus of Bulgaria” (who predicted her own death in 1996!), says governments will ban natural birth and insist we grow babies in laboratories!
- Baba Vanga also predicts an alien invasion will knock the earth off it’s orbit! But will they be covered by M4A? (We predict yes: everybody in, nobody out.)
Ben predicts that Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy will die of a heart attack before the end of the current legislative session. Judging by the prevalence of heart disease among men in the United States, and the fact that stress is a leading risk factor for cardiovascular issues, this prediction is not too off the wall.
Bringing things back to earth for a moment, what are actual public health experts and medical providers saying about what might happen in the coming year – is 2023 the year we finally get so healthy we no longer need healthcare?
In the fall of 2022, public health folks warned about the coming tripledemic this winter – a combo of COVID, the common flu, and RSV (a respiratory illness prevalent in children that would put additional strain on our healthcare system. Guess what? It happened and is still sort of happening! Over the holidays, available hospital beds were hard to find all over the country, and from Oregon to New Jersey, we’ve seen reports that local healthcare facilities are still overburdened.
Even though some experts say that we’re over the worst of the flu and RSV for this season, COVID infections have continued to rise going into the new year. Our friends at National Nurses United are actually calling this a “Quad-demic” because on top of all the illnesses that are circulating right now, we have drastically unsafe staffing conditions in hospitals all over the country.
“During the Covid-19 pandemic, regulatory flexibility afforded the hospital industry a rationale and opportunity to adopt—and normalize—crisis standards of care, even when not in a surge—from locking up and rationing personal protective equipment (PPE) to adopting harmful staffing models like team nursing. Hospital industry mistreatment and neglect of RNs and other health care workers has also led to many health care workers to leave their respective facilities in order to protect their health, wellbeing, and licenses, which has created a staffing crisis in health care.” – NNU
Once again, viruses plus a for-profit healthcare system are really fucking us.
Prospects of Passing Medicare for All?
The Republican Party has a 4-seat majority in the House, and we’ve been watching them implode over the dry procedural task of nominating a Speaker. Things are ever-so-slightly better in the Senate this session.
- It’s highly unlikely any healthcare legislation will be passed and sent to the President to sign. We might be lucky if government does anything at all in 2023-24, particularly passing budgets.
- Both M4A bills will be re-introduced this session, and that means we’ll have a LOT of work on our hands to get co-sponsors on board – including those who were co-sponsors last session! We don’t know exactly when that will happen, but probably earlier in the year for the House bill (March-April), and no idea about the Senate bill, but hopefully also early in 2023!
- The GOP is likely going to use the House for investigations, hearings to make Democrats look bad, etc. That COULD involve going after M4A – we should be ready for it.
- Privatizing Medicare is one of the few bi-partisan sports left in the country, and it’s something Trump (and then Biden) have been carrying out under executive order. Watch for shenanigans around Medicare Advantage plans, among other things.
- Some good news: Much to the horror of Big Pharma and the insurance lobby, Senator Bernie Sanders will chair the healthcare committee (HELP – Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions) this session, which could provide opportunities for hearings, and other ways to advance the cause of healthcare justice.
Threats and Opportunities
Outside of Congress, Elon Musk, and aliens, are there major threats or opportunities facing the M4A Movement going into 2023?
- 2023 is a local election cycle, and this year we have the opportunity to continue to build grassroots support for M4A at the local level with tactics like the Patients Over Profits Pledge and municipal resolutions.
- In 2023, we’re going to have to make a lot of our own campaign work. It won’t be handed to us like is has been in the past (e.g. Affordable Care Act, Repeal & Replace, Build Back Better, etc).
- The organizer and author Bill Moyer wrote about the phases of social movements: the “take-off” phase when there is a lot of public attention and energy around an issue, vs “normal times” when things are quieter. Social movements need to be able to organize effectively during both phases, but the work looks different in a quiet time. We need to focus on systematic outreach in the community, informing people about Medicare for All, building a bigger support base to launch from during the next take off phase.
Gillian told us about her friend Marilena in the podcast episode about healthcare in Texas. Just a few months ago, she was making up her will because she didn’t have access to healthcare. Today we learned that Marilena got signed up for a plan on the marketplace that includes prescriptions with a $0 copay. We all deserve that kind of access and more, so keep fighting, everyone! And we’re sending our best wishes for good health to Marilena. May 2023 be a year of healthcare justice for all of us!
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