Bernie Sanders at Medicare's 50th DC rally
Moyers was an aide to President Johnson when he signed the bill for Medicare.
From the transcript, August 3, 2012
BILL MOYERS: I read a news story this week that sent me on a nostalgic trip down memory lane. This past Monday, July 30th was the 47th anniversary of Medicare, and to celebrate it, the “Raging Grannies,” as they’re known, gathered outside the county office building in Rochester, New York to protest rumored cuts to their Medicare coverage.
RAGING GRANNIES: This old grey granny now needs a test or two --
BILL MOYERS: They praised Medicare in song as “the best deal we have in the country,” and even called for expanding it Medicare into universal health care for everyone.
It seems the Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, was coming up from Washington to raise funds for Republican congressional candidate Maggie Brooks. The “Raging Grannies” wanted to make certain Ms. Brooks didn’t sign on to the GOP budget which includes cuts to Medicare.
For myself, the “Raging Grannies” channeled a familiar voice, the Texas twang of my boss back in 1965, Lyndon Baines Johnson. I was a White House assistant at the time and had been working with the President and others on the team trying to get Medicare through Congress. Even with overwhelming Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, it was one tough fight. Others had tried before us.
The Washington Post, The Fix: July 31, 2015
by Janell Ross
The warnings were dire.
The American Medical Association was so opposed that it hired then-actor and future-president Ronald Reagan to voice its concerns. And in a series of ads, paid speeches and a 1961 record distributed by the AMA, Reagan made a case.
If Medicare became a reality, the argument went, this moment would later be understood as the beginning of socialism in the United States. And, Reagan said in no uncertain terms, Medicare would also someday be understood as the end of things Americans hold dear, including, well, freedom. (You can listen for yourself if you click on the video below. The heart of Reagan's argument begins at 5:24.)
That should sound at least a little familiar to anyone who lived through the Clintons' disastrous attempt to build a national health-care program and anyone awake for the last few years of disagreement about Obamacare, a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act.
This is language so powerful that it helped give birth to a very profitable and now-omnipresent industry -- political communications -- in the 1940s. But, despite the potency of Reagan's 1961 message, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Medicare bill 50 years ago Thursday.
Capital Insider, July 31, 2015
by Peter Wong
Different groups have differing expectations for a study of how Oregon should pay for health care — a study that lawmakers authorized two years ago but did not fund until now.
The Legislature set aside $300,000 in the new two-year budget to fund the study, which will be carried out through the Oregon Health Authority. House Bill 2828, which extends the study authorization for two years, also allows for donations.
Courtni Dresser of the Oregon Medical Association, which contributed, said: “The results of this study could serve to strengthen the existing coordinated-care organization (CCO) system, as well as identify other innovative strategies to provide cost-effective care to all Oregonians.
But Jenn Baker, speaking for the Oregon Nurses Association, envisions the study as a step toward a system under which the government pays all health care bills.
“They (nurses) also understand that the state must have an adequate and stable financing plan to move towards a statewide single-payer system,” Baker said.
Report by Wes Brain, HCAO Rogue Valley
Medford, Oregon--July 30, 2015
We had 30 folks attend our press conference outside the downtown Medford library. Despite numerous press releases, it was a no-show for mainstream media--no network TV or corporate newspapers appeared. Thank goodness for the Rogue Valley Community Press, which came to the event and then came inside where people gathered to toot party horns and eat homemade PIE! I did a pie and people count with Health Care for All-Oregon-Rogue Valley activists Ivend and Kathy Holen. Ivend reported about 40 people inside the library, while Kathy reported nine pies were brought by volunteers. She also reported, "one person ate six pieces!"
Go to the report posted on the SOJwJ webpage to see photos and five short video clips of the press conference
A special thanks to Jason and Vanessa Houk with the Rogue Valley Community Press who supplied these photos.
T.R. Reid outlined four models of healthcare around the world currently in use in this country.
by Jan Johnson for The Lund Report, July 29, 2015
When T.R. Reid was bureau chief in Japan for The Washington Post, he wondered why healthcare prices were a tenth of what he paid in the U.S. “Japan has the oldest population and the healthiest. Those two shouldn’t go together.”
The author of the bestseller The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care, producer of PBS documentaries on the same topic and crusader for universal healthcare in his home state of Colorado described four models of healthcare for a City Club audience.
Great Britain’s Beveridge Model is named after Lord William Beveridge, born to fabulous wealth and title who dedicated his life to serving the poor. In 1943, Beveridge proposed treating healthcare as a social service like paved roads and libraries – service without ever seeing a bill.
Today, 62 million citizens and 15 million resident aliens in Great Britain are covered, and the country “spends 44 percent as much as we do and are somewhat healthier than we are,” Reid said. Spain, Scandinavia, New Zealand and Cuba also use this model.
The Washington Post, July 30, 2015
by John Wagner
Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders highlighted his support for a single-payer health-care system — a position that separates him from his rivals for the Democratic nomination — during a Thursday rally on Capitol Hill celebrating the 50th anniversary of Medicare.
Sanders (I-Vt.) said he would introduce legislation “in the very near future” that would make health care a right, a goal he touts on the campaign trail and one that he has fought for unsuccessfully in Congress in the past.
“The time has come to say we need to expand Medicare to cover every man, woman and child as a single-payer national health-care program,” Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, said at the rally, which was organized by National Nurses United and attended by members of an array of other labor unions.
Medicare, which is available to those 65 or older, as well as younger people with disabilities, was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965. Events across the country were staged Thursday to commemorate its launch.
Although Sanders’ position is not new, it helps explain his appeal to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, and it is likely to factor into ongoing deliberations at the AFL-CIO over whom to endorse in the Democratic presidential primary.
In nationwide rallies and creative actions, proponents of universal healthcare mobilize to defend—and expand—public program
From California to Florida to Maine, communities in 25 cities across the United States are staging rallies, picnics, and flash mobs this week to celebrate Thursday's 50th anniversary of Medicare—and call for its expansion into a system that provides publicly-funded healthcare for all.
"It is urgent that we continue organizing for the right to healthcare by fighting efforts to roll back or privatize Medicare and joining with movements around the country to establish a publicly-financed healthcare system that includes all people," Ellen Schwartz, president of the Vermont Workers' Center, told Common Dreams.
The nationwide actions marking President Lyndon B. Johnson's July 30, 1965 signing of the bill that created Medicare were organized by a broad array of organizations including Physicians for a National Health Program, Alliance for Retired Americans, National Nurses United (NNU), and Public Citizen.
They also include high-profile supporters, among them 2016 presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who spoke at a Washington, D.C. rally on Thursday morning. "Healthcare is a right for all people, not a privilege," Sanders told a cheering crowd.
July 29, 2015
Representative Peter Buckley cannot attend Southern Oregon's "Medicare 50" celebration event tomorrow, although he did send the following statement which will be read at the 6pm press conference.
“July 30, 2015--Thanks to all of you for being here to celebrate Medicare and our shared commitment to make sure everyone in our country receives the care they need. In spite of ferocious opposition—an opposition that continues to this very day—Medicare is a tremendous success story. In our state alone, over 600,000 Oregonians receive vital care through Medicare, and over 500,000 Oregonians receive care through Medicaid. This is who we are as a state and a country. We care for our families and our communities, and we will not rest until every single person in Oregon and in the U.S. has access to high quality, affordable health care. The voices of opposition are on the wrong side of history. We need to build on 50 years of saving lives, 50 years of strengthening our families and our communities, and expand Medicare. There is no going back, only going forward. I’m grateful for the generations of Americans who have brought us progress in healthcare for our families, and it’s up to us to expand that progress for decades to come.”
--Oregon State Representative Peter Buckley, District 5.
Report by Bobbi Hall, Chair, Mid Valley Health Care Advocates, Corvallis
T.R. Reid, author of The Healing of America, made a whirlwind tour of Oregon over the last weekend in July, making numerous appearances before packed public audiences such as the 250-plus crowd in Takena Hall at Linn-Benton Community College the evening of July 25. The venue worked well and will be the site Sept. 19 of the play Mercy Killers. Reid, in addition to public talks also met with smaller groups of health care reform leaders, such as members of Physicians for a National Health Program in Portland and the board of Health Care for All-Oregon in Corvallis. On the 25th, Mike Huntington, Bruce Thompson, Sandi Bean and Bobbi Hall brought Reid from Portland to Salem for a noon talk in front of a large crowd at the Salem City Club, then to Corvallis to meet with the HCAO board, and then to LBCC to give a talk, followed by personal conversations with attendees at LBCC.
The talk in Salem compared what the Affordable Care Act has done to advance health care with what needs to be done to extend care to everyone and also outlined what the Colorado plan will offer. To see a video of it, go to the City Club’s website. Audio podcasts of the other Oregon talks by T.R. Reid will be posted on the Mid-Valley website, and an interview with T.R. Reid by Bobbi Hall will be aired Monday August 10 at 11:30 a.m. on KBOO, 90.7 in the Portland area, 104.3 in the Corvallis area and 91.9 in Hood River, and will also be posted as a podcast on the Mid-Valley website..
T.R. Reid had questions for the HCAO Board, and the Board had questions for him. As Reid chairs the Colorado Foundation for Universal Health Care, which is preparing an initiative petition to advance universal health care coverage, and the HCAO Board is considering its next move, both organizations learned from each other’s experiences. Reid gave his Oregon colleagues much to think about. We in the mid-valley owe much to several of our members for making large donations that brought our speaker and paid for theater rental at LBCC. Clearly, this event showed that we need more donations as well as more volunteers if we are to meet our goals, and we all can add something.
New York Times Opinion Page, July 27, 2015
by Paul Krugman
Medicare turns 50 this week, and it has been a very good half-century. Before the program went into effect, Ronald Reagan warned that it would destroy American freedom; it didn’t, as far as anyone can tell. What it did do was provide a huge improvement in financial security for seniors and their families, and in many cases it has literally been a lifesaver as well.
But the right has never abandoned its dream of killing the program. So it’s really no surprise that Jeb Bush recently declared that while he wants to let those already on Medicare keep their benefits, “We need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others.”
What is somewhat surprising, however, is the argument he chose to use, which might have sounded plausible five years ago, but now looks completely out of touch. In this, as in other spheres, Mr. Bush often seems like a Rip Van Winkle who slept through everything that has happened since he left the governor’s office — after all, he’s still boasting about Florida’s housing-bubble boom.
Actually, before I get to Mr. Bush’s argument, I guess I need to acknowledge that a Bush spokesman claims that the candidate wasn’t actually calling for an end to Medicare, he was just talking about things like raising the age of eligibility. There are two things to say about this claim. First, it’s clearly false: in context, Mr. Bush was obviously talking about converting Medicare into a voucher system, along the lines proposed by Paul Ryan.
And second, while raising the Medicare age has long been a favorite idea of Washington’s Very Serious People, a couple of years ago the Congressional Budget Office did a careful study and discovered that it would hardly save any money. That is, at this point raising the Medicare age is a zombie idea, which should have been killed by analysis and evidence, but is still out there eating some people’s brains.
But then, Mr. Bush’s real argument, as opposed to his campaign’s lame attempt at a rewrite, is just a bigger zombie.
Next week, Medicare turns 50—originally signed into law on July 30, 1965. While Medicare is so popular, it continues to be blamed for America’s present and future budget problems when actually it's the greatest solution.
July 25, 2015 | NationofChange | Op-Ed
by: Robert Reich
Medicare turns fifty next week. It was signed into law July 30, 1965 – the crowning achievement of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. It’s more popular than ever.
Yet Medicare continues to be blamed for America’s present and future budget problems. That’s baloney.
A few days ago Jeb Bush even suggested phasing it out. Seniors already receiving benefits should continue to receive them, he said, but “we need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others and move to a new system that allows them to have something, because they’re not going to have anything.”
Bush praised Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to give seniors vouchers instead. What Bush didn’t say was that Ryan’s vouchers wouldn’t keep up with increases in medical costs – leaving seniors with less coverage.
The fact is, Medicare isn’t the problem. In fact, it’s the solution.
Its costs are being pushed upward by the rising costs of health care overall – which have slowed somewhat since the Affordable Care Act was introduced but are still rising faster than inflation.
Medicare costs are also rising because of the growing ranks of boomers becoming eligible for Medicare.
Medicare offers a way to reduce these underlying costs – if Washington would let it.
Let me explain.
The Lancet, Volume 386, No. 9991, p332–333, 25 July 2015
by Elizabeth Fee
50 years ago, on July 30, 1965, US President Lyndon B Johnson signed the Medicare Act into law. The law created two new programmes, Medicare for those who had reached the social security retirement age of 65 years, and Medicaid for those whose incomes were below specific levels. In the context of the long history of struggles to obtain national health insurance in the USA, this was a momentous act. Admittedly, the law applied only to part of the population, the old and the poor, but it was nonetheless an important advance.
Organised efforts to attain national health insurance in the USA began in the early 20th century, first by the Socialist Party, and soon after, by the Progressive Party and the American Association for Labor Legislation. At first, the American Medical Association (AMA) supported the idea of national health insurance, but then reversed its position. After the Russian revolution in 1917, thousands of people in the USA who were suspected of being communists were jailed or deported. In this changing political context, proponents of national health insurance were soundly defeated. Vocal support for national health insurance resurfaced during the Great Depression, when many could not afford the cost of medical care. The Social Security Act of 1935 provided old-age retirement insurance, unemployment insurance, and limited funds for specific groups: women and children, the physically disabled, and the blind. The old-age insurance was financed from taxes on employers and their employees. Initially, health insurance was intended to be part of the social insurance package, but it was dropped because of strong opposition, led by the AMA. The Journal of the American Medical Association presented national health insurance as a “revolutionary” and “Bolshevik” menace to the public health, undermining traditional American values of individualism and self-reliance.
Despite such claims, national health insurance became an increasingly insistent policy demand over the next decade and, in 1945, President Harry S Truman announced his support for a national health-care programme. This, he said, should encompass several areas: using federal funding to attract health-care professionals to rural and low-income areas; providing funds for the construction of hospitals; creating a board to establish standards for hospitals and to direct funds towards medical research; and developing a national health insurance plan, to be run by the federal government, and open to all Americans. Various bills were introduced to the US Congress but not one was successful. Few politicians wanted to provoke the ire of the AMA or face the opposition of the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and an array of conservative political forces that declared that this proposal for “socialized medicine” was probably inspired by Communism, and that the Truman White House staffers were “followers of the Moscow party line”. Facing strong and well-funded opposition, Truman backed away from the plan. With no politically viable alternative, private sector health insurance grew steadily, especially as unions insisted on including health benefits in bargaining agreements, as their best surviving option. Health insurance thus became tied to employment; retirees, the unemployed, and the underemployed were largely left out.
Don’t let companies divide the pool
Letter to the Eugene Register Guard 7-11-15
by Marc Shapiro, Eugene
Fifteen Oregon insurance plans for the individual and small group market have submitted premium rate requests ranging from a 1.9 percent decrease to a 52 percent increase. It’s clear the intent of the Affordable Care Act has been lost amid most insurance companies’ attempts to maximize their profits.
The underlying question as to whether the federal government had the authority to require people to buy health care insurance from private companies was resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court, which sided with the Obama administration.
The significance of that ruling hinged on insurance industry claims that if the pool of insured people wasn’t expanded to include “everybody,” it wouldn’t be economically feasible to comply with many of the ACA’s requirements — including covering people with pre-existing conditions, removing annual and lifetime coverage caps and allowing children to stay on their parents’ policies through age 26.
Now we’re finding that instead of pooling their customers, the insurance companies are separating them so they can unjustifiably raise premiums for certain segments of the pool.
To properly evaluate the requested rate increases, the state Insurance Division should require the insurance companies to combine all their insured into a single pool before deciding on the validity of the proposed increases.
Health Care Study for Our Future
Letter to the Eugene Register Guard by Lou Sinniger, Elmira
Also submitted to the Eugene Weekly by Marc Shapiro, Eugene
July 24, 2015
On July 6th, the legislature passed HB2828, which was signed by Governor Brown on July 22. This bill is one of the most important bills to pass the legislature in this session. Among other things, it will provide the legislature and the public a solid economical basis to make decisions regarding health care in the future.
It will fund a study to determine the most effective and economical way to finance health care services for all of Oregon's residents. The implementation of the results of the study will have the potential to be transformative. It could end the economic and emotional terror that is associated with needing health care that is unaffordable.
Health Care related bankruptcies in Oregon could become a thing of the past, and implementation in Oregon could lead to change nationally.
Oregon has implemented many innovative health care programs, but the splintered non-comprehensive approach, seems to continually leave the end product, universal comprehensive health care services for all residents, out of reach.
This passage of this bill is a major step toward making this long sought-after care a reality in Oregon.