Medicare for All, Brexit and the Politics of Division

This morning I read in the New York Times about a major lobbying effort by insurance companies, private hospitals, drug companies and some doctor’s groups to kill the proposal for “Medicare for All” before it gains traction in the House and in the media. The plan is the same approach used to block or weaken prior proposals: the usual lies that government will control the medical services provided to patients, increased costs to consumers from higher taxes, lower quality care, etc. All of this is misleading at best and mostly outright lies. For example, at present it is the medical insurance company that determines the medical services provided rather than the patient. That is at least as bad as a government official making such a decision (because the government official does not experience a personal profit or loss from the coverage decision, but an insurance company does profit from denying coverage and thus it is motivated to deny coverage).

The interesting twist to the story is that the medical industry has had great success under the Affordable Care Act, and the same lobbying effort is promoting an expansion of the ACA. There are already a lot of false claims about the various proposals for expanded public options. For example, a single payer universal health care system will be financed by taxes but in return individuals will save substantial money on co-pays for services, prescription drugs and other expenses. And of course both individuals and employers will save all of the money now spend on insurance premiums. So whiles “taxes” go up, the overall cost of health care will go down. Every other developed country in the world has some version of a single payer system or a public option for everyone and such as system is much less expensive than the mess in the U.S. So don’t believe the lies from the hired lobbyists that a single-payer system means higher cost. Unfortunately the discourse on medical care remains a favorite topic of the domestic disinformation campaign led by Republicans in a scorched-earth campaign against their political opponents (and especially Barach Obama), and will likely be further contaminated by the Russian government’s world-wide cyber propaganda and disinformation campaign.

The other tragedy of government I read about this morning is the Brexit mess in the U.K. Another great success for the Russian government’s world-wide propaganda and disinformation campaign. Not surprisingly, the promises of Brexit are not going to be realized and the separation from the EU is likely to cause a significant decline in the U.K. economy. The March 29 deadline for the split is rapidly approaching and a disaster seems inevitable. The single issue that pushed the popularity of Brexit is the concern about immigrants entering the U.K. because of EU membership. There are certainly real concerns about immigration: migrations of populations has been a fact since humans evolved on this planet and it can be extremely disruptive. The Russians have used nationalism and anti-immigrant sentiment as the centerpiece of their social media disinformation efforts world-wide and they continue to have great success with this approach.

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