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CEO and founder of Amazon Jeff Bezos participates in a discussion during a Milestone Celebration dinner September 13, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

'We Need Medicare for All': Progressives Condemn Bezos Decision to Shift More Health Insurance Costs onto Washington Post Staffers

"Just one more example of why employer-based healthcare is not stable and not just. Jeff Bezos, the richest man in America, gets to decide on a whim whether Washington Post employees get to see a doctor or not."

Jake Johnson

The Washington Post, owned by world's richest man Jeff Bezos, is reportedly moving most of its staff onto what one Post journalist described as "high-deductible health insurance plans that shift significant costs and risks onto employees," a decision Medicare for All proponents highlighted as a prime example of the instability and injustice of the employer-sponsored healthcare system that is frequently praised by centrist Democratic presidential candidates.

The Washington Post Guild, the union that represents Post employees, sent an email Tuesday informing members that "the company announced changes to our healthcare plans for next year."

"The news is that the health plan that two-thirds of Post employees have now—the Aetna Health Fund—is going away (and your reserve Health Fund monies will not roll over)," the Guild said.

Opponents of Medicare for All—such as former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg—often argue that a single-payer system would deprive people of the choice to keep their private insurance if they are satisfied with their coverage.

As Matt Bruenig of the People's Policy Project has pointed out, this argument ignores the fact that, under the current employer-sponsored insurance system, people don't have the choice to keep their plan if their boss decides to change it.

"The only way to stop that from happening to people is to create a seamless system where people do not constantly churn on and off of insurance," Bruenig wrote earlier this year. "Medicare for All offers that. Our current system offers the exact opposite. If you like losing your insurance all the time, then our current healthcare system is the right one for you."

Medicare for All supporters on Tuesday echoed Bruenig in response to the Post's decision to dramatically alter staffers' health insurance plans.

Kenneth Zinn, political director at National Nurses United, said the Post's move is "one more example of why employer-based healthcare is not stable and not just."

"Jeff Bezos, the richest man in America, gets to decide on a whim whether Washington Post employees get to see a doctor or not," Zinn tweeted.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and the author of the 100-page Medicare for All Act of 2019, said "we shouldn't allow Jeff Bezos, or any other boss, to choose their profits over workers' healthcare."

"We need Medicare for All," said Sanders.

According to an Emerson poll released Tuesday, 70 percent of U.S. voters "strongly oppose" allowing employers "to change or eliminate an employee's health insurance against the employee's wishes."

In response to the survey, Bruenig tweeted, "Voters strongly oppose employer-based health insurance once they understand what it means."

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