Tag Archives: Medicare

Once Secret Prices Expose ‘Irrational and Cruel’ Nature of US Healthcare System

While the pricing data is unlikely to lower costs, said one critic, it may help “produce the political will for real reform.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-23-2021

Photo: pxfuel

With hospitals across the U.S. refusing to comply with a new federal rule requiring them to disclose the prices they negotiate with health insurers, a sampling of previously secret data published late Sunday reveals how much basic medical procedures cost at dozens of major hospitals in a project that critics of the for-profit healthcare system said reveals the severity of its dysfunction.

The database of hospital rates compiled by the New York Times and researchers at University of Maryland-Baltimore details how patients are charged drastically different prices for the same medical care depending on what insurance company they use—with some procedures costing less if a patient has no insurance at all. Continue reading

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Medicare for All Advocates Take to the Streets of Over 50 US Cities

“How can we have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness when we live in constant fear of illness, bankruptcy, or homelessness because of the outrageous for-profit healthcare system?”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-24-2021

People marched in more than 50 U.S. cities on Saturday to demand Medicare for All. (Photo: @Jaybefaunt/Twitter)

Just days before the 56th anniversary of Medicare being signed into law, advocates for creating a public, universal health insurance program in the United States to replace the largely private, for-profit system held marches in more than 50 cities across the country on Saturday.

The day of action was organized by a coalition of over 100 groups, from Mainers for Accountable Leadership, the Chicago Teachers Union, and Sunrise Movement Seattle to various arms of Democratic Socialists of America, Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), and Our Revolution. Continue reading

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Democrats Urged to Reject Latest GOP Attempt to Hold Social Security ‘Hostage’

“Lindsey Graham and his fellow Republicans will stop at nothing to cut the American people’s earned Social Security and Medicare benefits.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-21-2021

Senator Lindsey Graham. Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham on Wednesday said he would be willing to vote to raise the federal debt ceiling in exchange for a policy that could result in cuts to Social Security and Medicare, a proposed trade-off that progressive advocacy groups implored Democrats to reject.

With members of Congress staring down an August deadline to increase the debt limit—the amount of money the federal government is legally permitted to borrow to meet its financial obligations—Graham (R-S.C.) told Bloomberg that he could bring himself to vote yes on a debt ceiling hike if Democrats agree to legislation establishing commissions tasked with crafting Social Security and Medicare “reforms.” Continue reading

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Advocates Sound Alarm Over Quiet Trump Era Move That Could Further Privatize Medicare

“The Biden administration should immediately kill this toxic legacy of the former president.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-13-2021

Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services during the Trump administration. Photo: Paul Morigi/flickr/CC

A little-noticed scheme hatched in the late stages of the Trump presidency has consumer advocates and universal healthcare proponents warning about a creeping attempt to further privatize Medicare—an effort the Biden administration is being urged to stop in its tracks.

On December 3, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)—then under the leadership of Seema Verma—unveiled an innocuous-sounding proposal titled the Geographic Direct Contracting Model (Geo) with the purported goal of delivering “Medicare beneficiaries value through better care and improved quality.” Continue reading

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‘Shameless Stunt’: Trump Reportedly Attempting to Raid Medicare Trust Fund to Pay for Drug Discount Cards With His Name on Them

“There it is: Trump wants to steal billions from Medicare to pay for an illegal voter bribery scheme weeks before the election.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-9-2020

Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Photo: White House/flickr

Less than a month away from the November election, Trump administration officials are reportedly rushing to implement the president’s recent proposal to send $200 prescription drug discount cards to nearly 40 million Medicare recipients—an $8 billion plan that would be financed by dipping into the Medicare trust fund.

Politico reported Thursday that the administration is “seeking to finalize the plan as soon as Friday and send letters to 39 million Medicare beneficiaries next week, informing seniors of Trump’s new effort to lower their drug costs, although many seniors would not receive the actual cards until after the election.” While the design of the cards has yet to be finalized, officials are reportedly discussing ways to put Trump’s name on them. Continue reading

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Exposing Trump’s Payroll Tax Deferral as ‘Wage Theft,’ Treasury Signals Millions of Workers Will Earn Less in 2021 Under Plan

“Like Donald Trump’s other economic executive orders, this will not provide actual relief to workers.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-29-2020

Photo: skeeze from Pixabay

Days after the payroll processor for the federal government—one of the nation’s largest employers—announced it would implement President Donald Trump’s plan to defer payroll taxes for the rest of 2020, the U.S. Treasury Department indicated that employers will be responsible for paying the deferred taxes next year.

The plan is scheduled to go into effect September 1, and companies that take part will be required to collect the taxes their employees owe from the last four months of this year at the beginning of 2021—after the general election, which Trump hopes to win with claims that he’s strengthened the economy and helped workers. Continue reading

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Warnings of ‘Unconstitutional’ Assault on Social Security as Trump Threatens Unilateral Suspension of Payroll Tax

“Donald Trump is so desperate to defund Social Security, he may rip the Constitution to shreds to make it happen.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-5-2020

Photo: White House/flickr

President Donald Trump confirmed Tuesday that he is considering circumventing Congress to unilaterally suspend collection of the payroll tax, a move advocacy groups and lawmakers said would be an “unconstitutional” abuse of power and a destructive attack on Social Security funding.

Trump said during a Covid-19 press briefing that his administration is examining a variety of potential executive orders should Congress fail to reach an agreement on the next stimulus package by the end of the week, a deadline Democratic leaders and the White House set on Tuesday. Continue reading

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GOP Coronavirus Relief Package to Include Romney Bill That Would ‘Fast-Track Social Security and Medicare Cuts’

“They will use every opportunity and every crisis—including the mass death and economic carnage from Covid—as cover for their sick desire to destroy our Social Security system.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-24-2020

Photo: Tony Alter/flickr/CC

Shortly after publicly ditching one attack on Social Security—the payroll tax cut—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed Thursday that the Republican coronavirus relief package will include legislation sponsored by Sen. Mitt Romney that one advocacy group described as an “equally menacing” threat to the New Deal program.

In a speech on the Senate floor, McConnell touted Romney’s TRUST ACT as “a bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by Senate Democrats, to help a future Congress evaluate bipartisan proposals for protecting and strengthening the programs that Americans count on.” Continue reading

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Pelosi Support for Corporate Lobbyist Bailout Denounced as ‘Dumbest Political Maneuver You Could Possibly Make Right Now’

“Pelosi has run the House of Representatives by fiat for close to two months, and there hasn’t been a single word of protest as she locks every other member of the Democratic caucus out of policymaking.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-7-2020

Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has thrown her support behind a proposal to allow corporate lobbying groups to receive bailout money from a Covid-19 relief program meant for small businesses, a move one critic bluntly described as the “dumbest political maneuver you could possibly make right now.”

During a webinar with small business representatives on Tuesday, Pelosi said the next coronavirus relief package will include a change to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that would permit 501(c)(6) organizations to receive forgivable taxpayer loans. Continue reading

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‘A Travesty’: Trump Restricting Covid-19 Relief Funds From Hospitals Serving Nation’s Poorest

“Trump is using hospital bailout fund money to disproportionately help high revenue hospitals, and leave safety-net systems in the lurch.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-4-2020

Service members assigned to the Javits New York Medical Station perform an X-ray scan on a COVID-19 patient in the facility’s intensive care unit, April 18, 2020.. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Deonte Rowell)

Public health experts, state officials, and frontline medical workers are sounding the alarm and demanding an urgent change of course as the Trump administration disproportionately allocates Covid-19 relief funds to higher-revenue hospitals while restricting the flow of aid to providers that primarily serve low-income people.

The Los Angeles Times reported late last week that the Trump administration’s “program to aid hospitals and doctors on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis is leaving behind the nation’s Medicaid safety net—the pediatricians, mental health providers, and hospitals that serve the poorest patients. Continue reading

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