Conspiracy of Inaction

In 1945, President Harry Truman campaigned for a national health insurance plan that was attacked as “socialized medicine” by the American Medical Association (AMA). Truman’s response was true then and continues to resonate now:

“Under the plan I suggest, our people would continue to get medical and hospital services just as they do now—on the basis of their own voluntary decisions and choices. Our doctors and hospitals would continue to deal with disease with the same professional freedom as now. There would, however, be this all-important difference: whether or not patients get the services they need would not depend on how much they can afford to pay at the time.”

The AMA capitalized on the public’s fears of communism and even accused Truman’s administration of being “followers of the Moscow party line.” Lobbying and marketing efforts by the AMA defeated Truman’s plans for universal health care.

Today, we can build Medicare for All and make health care a human right for everyone in the United States. The Medicare for All Act of 2019 would deliver care and peace of mind that patients desperately need. Under Medicare for All, your health care will not depend on whether your state expanded Medicaid; whether you earn “too much” money to qualify for federal help, or whether your employer-sponsored insurance decides to arbitrarily change its network of providers.

Rather than support Medicare for All and put patients before profits, the AMA has entered a new conspiracy of inaction: the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF). This group includes the most powerful profiteers in health care: the insurance industry, pharmaceutical corporations, for-profit hospitals, and patient advocacy groups funded by all of the above.

PAHCF follows the AMA’s longstanding traditions of using fear and misinformation to attack Medicare for All. PAHCF and the AMA say Medicare for All will create a “one size fits all” system of health care. This is total nonsense.

Doctors are neither so stupid nor so cruel as to abandon their knowledge, skills, and ethics to reduce the complexity of medicine into a uniform rubber stamp. Under Medicare for All, patients will continue to receive personalized care, without the anxieties over cost. What’s really “one size fits all” is the line of attack on Medicare for All and its predecessors. The AMA’s lobbyists and marketing have repeatedly deployed the same scare tactics about America’s “descent to communism.” They were wrong then and they’re wrong now.

Weaker expansions of health care like Medicare for America and Medicaid buy-in are also pilloried by PAHCF and the AMA. Led by Lauren Crawford Shaver, a former staffer from Hillary Clinton’s campaign, PAHCF has attacked Medicare X. That policy is sponsored by Senator Tim Kaine, Clinton’s former running mate.

If even the smallest tinkering with the status quo is unsatisfactory, then it becomes abundantly clear that the AMA and their corporate friends at PAHCF are determined to protect every single ill-gotten dollar of their profits, even at the expense of patients’ lives. Health justice, equity, and peace of mind for struggling families are nowhere on their agenda.

Everyday people must fight the injustices of profiteers in our health care. The AMA does not speak for the thousands of doctors who want high-quality, equitable, and just health care for patients through Medicare for All. Millions of families are demanding members of Congress stand up to the lobbyists, call out misinformation, and reject campaign contributions from the conspiracy of inaction thriving off patients’ misery.

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