Medicare for All advocates, policy experts, and journalists pushed back strongly on Monday after an astroturf front group funded by the insurance and pharmaceutical industries misrepresented facts as part of a multi-pronged effort to convince the American public that a single-payer system would be more costly than the for-profit status quo.
On Twitter, in digital ads, and in memos to supporters and the press, the Partnership for America's Health Care Future (PAHCF) and its allies are ramping up their nationwide campaign to fight the momentum built by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and other Medicare for All advocates as proponents show how the system would be more financially feasible for middle-class families and less costly overall.
Tweeting a link to a recent Washington Post article by Jeff Stein, the Partnership for America's Health Care Future (PAHCF) claimed that the piece showed that "Medicare-for-All would force middle-class families to pay more through massive tax hikes," without providing the context for the statement within the article.
Stein himself was among those who quickly rejected PAHCF's summation of the article.
Sanders, sponsor of a Medicare for All bill which has 15 co-sponsors in the Senate, was also among the critics that spoke out against PAHCF's blatant misrepresentation of the Post's reporting.
This is the front group for the insurance and drug industries. They are desperate to protect their profits, so they are going to lie to Americans. This is what we're up against. Here’s the truth: Medicare for All would save Americans money. https://t.co/vgsuQAxrtw
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) April 1, 2019
Journalists Libby Watson and Ryan Cooper, both of whom have written about Medicare for All extensively, also condemned PAHCF for its disingenuous statement about Stein's conclusions.
one thing that's cool is you get anti-single payer types concern trolling about M4A advocates not being "honest" about the costs, while the massive industry-funded lobbying group opposing it will happily just straight-up lie https://t.co/aCDHirfBVI
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As Common Dreams has reported, PAHCF is a coalition of insurance companies, doctors' and hospitals' industry groups, and pharmaceutical giants whose aim is to stop the growing clamor for Medicare for All, a solution to the nation's healthcare crisis now supported by at least 70 percent of Americans.
Basing its campaign on the fact that providing government-funded health insurance for every American will require increased tax revenues, the group and its allies are repeating the claim that middle class taxes will rise—without noting that families will no longer have to pay premiums, deductibles, copays, and unexpected medical bills for treatment, as Stein and other reporters have made clear about Medicare for All.
As Robert Pollin, co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at UMass Amherst, wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last week, "Families would pay these taxes instead of premiums, deductibles, and copays to private insurers. Except for those in the highest income brackets, this will produce significant savings for families as well as for businesses. Net health-care spending for middle-income families that now purchase insurance for themselves would fall by fully 14 percent of their income."
In response to the industry's group misinformation blitz on Monday, Sanders's policy adviser, Warren Gunnels, shared the conclusions of a number of studies from across the political spectrum which all show that Medicare for All would cost American families less in overall healthcare costs than the for-profit insurance model.
Study after study shows that #MedicareForAll saves middle class families money.
- RAND: Avg family would save $3K a year
- CTJ: Avg family would save $3,240 a year
- UMASS: Avg family would spend 14% less on healthcare
- Mercatus: Avg family would save $6K over 10 years https://t.co/78LJ6JyXeT
— Warren Gunnels (@GunnelsWarren) April 1, 2019
PAHCF's misrepresentation of the Post's facts is just one of the strategies it's employed. As the group launches a six-figure digital campaign, one Medicare for All advocate noted on Twitter, its partners and allies are currently spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to spread negative claims about the proposal on social media "at a time when Americans are dying on their couches because they can't afford insulin."
.@PhRMA is spending $245,600 on tweets -- yes, freaking tweets -- at a time when Americans are dying on their couches because they can't afford insulin. Enough is enough. #MedicareForAll https://t.co/8XThhHvNcX pic.twitter.com/Vb33xCg4ZT
— All On Medicare (@AllOnMedicare) April 1, 2019
Seeing the private health insurance lobbyists tweeting that their product helps Americans avoid medical debt and bankruptcy -- things that literally only exist because of the private health insurance non-system -- leaves me absolutely breathless. https://t.co/H3g1YpQI0k
— All On Medicare (@AllOnMedicare) April 1, 2019
On Facebook, former health insurance executive-turned-universal healthcare advocate Wendell Potter recently debunked a two-minute ad released by PAHCF as the group was ramping up its campaign.
Potter, who heads the Business Initiative for Health Policy (BIHP), denounced the PAHCF's "bald-faced lies" about the number of Americans with employer-based health insurance, the affordability and quality of their healthcare, and the amount of control Americans have over the doctors they see and the care they receive as he set the record straight about what the country stands to gain from Medicare for All:
Right now when your doctor decides that you need medical attention you have to hope that your insurance company will decide to pay for it. Since insurance companies' only responsibility is to their shareholders they will look for any way they can to ignore your doctor and deny the claim. If we take the profit motive away from healthcare financing, doctors will be able to provide the treatment they know you need and you won't have to worry about drowning in medical debt. Seems like a no brainer.
On Monday, PAHCF also sent a memo to news outlets and supporters noting that powerful centrist Democrats have recently questioned the affordability of Medicare for All and that the Koch-funded Mercatus Center released a study last year showing that Medicare for All "would cost taxpayers approximately $32 trillion over 10 years"—leaving out the fact that the current system is projected to cost $35 trillion over the same period.