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With 'Unlimited Funds to Lie,' Insurance Industry Readies Propaganda Blitz as Medicare for All Surges

"It will not be easy, but we will win this struggle for Medicare for All because, increasingly, the American people understand healthcare is a right and not a privilege," Sen. Bernie Sanders said in response to the industry's plan

Audience members greet Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) during an event to introduce the Medicare for All Act of 2017 in Washington, D.C, September 13, 2017. (Photo: Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

Medicare for All is rapidly surging in popularity among the American public and gaining momentum in Congress, but private insurance interests and Big Pharma have no intention of giving up their immensely profitable stranglehold on the U.S. healthcare system without a fight.

According to strategy documents obtained by The Intercept and the watchdog group Documented, the private healthcare industry is working aggressively alongside corporate Democrats to spread anti-single payer propaganda and "minimize the potential" for Medicare for All as an alternative to the current for-profit status quo.

Directed by former Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton staffers and leading insurance industry lobbyists, an alliance called the Partnership for America's Health Care Future worked hard during the build-up to the 2018 midterm elections to convince candidates to " focus on shoring up the Affordable Care Act (ACA) instead of supporting single-payer healthcare," The Intercept reported on Tuesday.

"Private insurance and pharma have unlimited funds to lie to the media and manipulate politicians. But we have the power of an American public that knows winning Medicare for All is a matter of survival."
—DSA for Medicare for All

But now, after a number of unabashed Medicare for All advocates were elected to Congress and with a growing coalition of Democrats pushing for a vote on the House single-payer plan, Partnership is setting its sights on undermining Medicare for All's prospects heading into 2020.

"We're all focused on 2020," Lauren Crawford Shaver, a former staffer on Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, said during a recent interview.

The principle objective of Partnership's project, The Intercept reports, is to "to peel support away" from Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) Medicare for All legislation, which was introduced with 16 Senate Democratic co-sponsors last September.

"In terms of tactics, it sounds like they will just be updating the same lines they used in the 1990s to sideline reform efforts and in the ACA fight to keep single-payer healthcare off the table," Eagan Kemp, a healthcare policy advocate with Public Citizen, told The Intercept. "The Partnership for America's Health Care Future would be more accurately titled the 'Partnership for Profiting Off America's Health Care.'"

In response to the private insurance industry's campaign to undercut single-payer, Sanders wrote on Twitter that while "it will not be easy... we will win this struggle for Medicare for All because, increasingly, the American people understand healthcare is a right and not a privilege—and that we must guarantee healthcare to every man, woman, and child in this country."

To combat surging grassroots enthusiasm for Medicare for All—which has been on display in recent surveys and massive door-knocking campaigns nationwideThe Intercept reported that Partnership's campaign is encouraging "healthcare companies concerned about the growing popularity of Medicare for All to mobilize opposition among clients, customers, and employees."

"There is no brand loyalty to insurance companies, which are rightly seen as parasitic."
—Adam Gaffney, Physicians for a National Health Program

This effort has been assisted by the work of corporate Democratic think-tanks like Third Way, which took to the pages of the Washington Post the day after the midterm elections to boost moderate Democrats and spread hysteria about Medicare for All's costs—conveniently omitting the fact that Sanders' single-payer plan would save the American public $2 trillion, according to a Koch-funded study published in July.

But despite the deep pockets and entrenched political power of the private healthcare industry, Medicare for All proponents said they are not at all surprised by Partnership's propaganda campaign and declared that grassroots momentum for single-payer will overwhelm those dedicated to maintaining a status quo that delivers far worse results at a much higher cost than every other industrialized nation in the world.

As Common Dreams reported, Medicare for All supporters detailed a pressure campaign of their own in a strategy call last week, vowing to wield surging grassroots enthusiasm to pressure congressional Democrats to get behind Medicare for All.

"We're going to push the Democrats to do it," declared Our Revolution president Nina Turner. "There is absolutely, unequivocally no excuse for the Democrats not to support Medicare for All."

Speaking to The Intercept, Adam Gaffney, president-elect of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), said Medicare for All will only continue to gain steam as Americans are increasingly harmed by for-profit insurance.

"There is no brand loyalty to insurance companies, which are rightly seen as parasitic," Gaffney said. "Once single-payer is widely understood as a program that covers everyone, that doesn't impose copays and deductibles, that has more comprehensive benefits than existing plans, and that doesn't employ restrictive insurance 'networks,' support will only grow."

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