South Carolina, Coronavirus, Wonk Wars, and Organizing Victories

Joe Biden wins his first, and so far only, primary with the help of Medicare for All supporters. Trump’s team doesn’t believe in the coronavirus, but if it does exist, Medicare for All would make it worse (?!?). Centrist policy experts trash the Yale Medicare for All study and then trash the entire policy of Medicare for All for good measure. Stephanie birddogs Joe Kennedy at an event for the Patients over Profits Pledge, and Connecticut passes its first municipal resolution in favor of Medicare for All!

Show Notes

Pete Buttigieg drops out of the race. R.I.P. “Medicare for All Who Want It” – you were basically just a public option gift-wrapped with language to co-opt the Medicare for All movement.

Exit polls show that 50% of primary voters in South Carolina back Medicare for All – marking the 4th straight primary where M4A has pulled out a majority. But surprisingly, a majority of M4A supporters in South Carolina backed Joe Biden! Our hot take: the M4A movement handed Joe Biden his first primary win ever, after 3 presidential runs. Show us some love, Joe!

The Partnership for America’s Health Care Future also spent $200,000 running an ad blitz in South Carolina opposing Medicare for All. They had to make two new ads so they’d have black people in them, and in the process added some brazen lies about M4A increasing your taxes AND your premiums.

However, our ally the Debs-Jones-Douglass Institute organized an impressive “I’m a Medicare for All Voter” campaign in South Carolina. While we’ll never outspend the healthcare industry, this campaign spoke with 10s of thousands of SC voters, and collected more than 10,000 pledges from SC residents to vote only for a candidate that supports Medicare for All. This is far more impactful than $200k in ads.

Also, crucially important: Charles Brave, the President of the South Carolina AFL-CIO, published an op-ed in the Charleston Chronicle about how Medicare for All is good for union workers and is supported by the SC labor movement. This set a very different tone from Nevada, where the Culinary Union made waves by attacking M4A – even though the Nevada AFL-CIO has ALSO voted to support Medicare for All as their official position.

Coronavirus! The House Ways & Means Committee held a hearing on the coronavirus threat, where Trump’s Secretary of Health & Human Services, Alex Azar, weighed in on… how Medicare for All will ruin America, crying crocodile tears for union workers. When he was actually questioned about developing a vaccine for coronavirus, Azar incredibly replied that it may not be affordable for everyone because we need the private sector to invest in the vaccine, and they won’t do it with price controls (!!!!!!!!).

Many others made the connection between the coronavirus threat and Medicare for All. AOC weighed in from the perspective of restaurant workersStephanie adds her own horrifying story of being forced to continue working at her restaurant job while suffering from mono and strept throat! Helaine Olen made the basic case that it is impossible for a country to contain a pandemic if people are afraid to go to the doctor due to unaffordable costs.

Sally Pipes, however, made the conservative argument that countries with Medicare for All are LESS prepared to contain pandemics, because they have so few hospital beds, doctors, and medical resources. This claim hits 100 on the bullshit meter! The U.S. has among the fewest hospital beds, and among the fewest number of physicians per 1,000 residents of all the developed nations. We have 2.8 hospital beds per 1,000 people – Japan has 13.1 beds per 1,000 people; Germany has 8; etc. The U.S. has 2.6 physicians per 1,000 people, compared to the 4-5 in most European countries.

Stephanie has some words for the Twitter wonks doing their best to discredit the Yale economic study showing that Medicare for All will save money and lives. She picks out Shefali Luthra’s supposed “fact check” at Kaiser Health News in particular for anti-M4A bias.

In the world of M4A activism and organizing: Stephanie birddogs Rep. Joe Kennedy, who is running for Senate in Massachusetts, asking him to sign the Patients over Profits Pledge – we hope he says yes! If you’re interested in the “birddogging” tactic, you can see our resources page here.

Other exciting news: the City Council in New London, Connecticut passed a resolution calling on their Members of Congress to support Medicare for All! Rising healthcare costs are absolutely destroying municipal budgets, and municipal resolutions are a great way to start building support in a district where your Member of Congress is not yet on board the M4A bill.

To get involved in the national campaign to pass municipal resolutions – like the one just passed in New London, CT – visit the site run by our friends at Public Citizen!

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