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Warnings of ‘stealth privatization’ effort as Trump signs executive order expanding for-profit Medicare Advantage plans

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“Today’s executive order is yet another giveaway to the corporations that run Medicare Advantage plans.”

President Donald Trump on Thursday delivered a speech bashing Medicare for All with right-wing talking points and signed an executive order aimed at steering more elderly Americans into the arms of the private insurance industry.

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Trump signed the executive order during an event Thursday afternoon at The Villages, a large retirement community in central Florida. Under the new order, the government will encourage patients to consider private Medicare Advantage plans as alternatives to traditional Medicare, which covers tens of millions of elderly Americans and people with disabilities. The directive would also expand supplemental benefits Medicare Advantage can offer.

“Medicare Advantage is stealth privatization intended to undermine traditional Medicare, which is an effective, popular government program and therefore loathed by Republican ideologues.”
—Nancy Altman, Social Security Works

Michael Lighty, an activist with the Democratic Socialists of America’s Medicare for All campaign, said Medicare Advantage plans “are the worst and most accurate example how we pay the wrong way for healthcare.”

“The healthcare industry loves them, too—they are the fastest growing, most profitable private health plans, which are heavily subsidized by taxpayers,” Lighty told Common Dreams. “Compared to traditional Medicare, the Medicare Advantage plans cost more, and restrict access.”

In a statement, Social Security Works president Nancy Altman called Medicare Advantage “a hustle designed to allow for-profit corporations to suck up public dollars.”

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“Medicare Advantage is stealth privatization intended to undermine traditional Medicare, which is an effective, popular government program and therefore loathed by Republican ideologues,” said Altman. “Today’s executive order is yet another giveaway to the corporations that run Medicare Advantage plans.”

“Ironically,” Altman added, “the Trump administration is framing the executive order as an attack on Medicare for All. In fact, the massive flaws of Medicare Advantage epitomize the need to get for-profit greed out of health care by improving Medicare and expanding it to cover all Americans.”

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As Trump parroted right-wing fearmongering about Medicare for All—such as the claim that it would lead to far longer wait times for care—consumer advocacy group Public Citizen said the public should not “be fooled by Trump’s corporate-backed talking points.”

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During his speech Thursday, Trump presented himself as a champion of Medicare and falsely claimed Medicare for All would “steal” healthcare from seniors.

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“These people on the other side—these people are crazy by the way, they’re totally crazy—they want to take it away and give you lousy healthcare,” Trump said of Medicare for All supporters. “They want to raid Medicare to fund a thing called ‘socialism.'”

But progressive critics responded that it is Trump and his Republican allies in Congress who are working to destroy Medicare, not those calling for the program to be improved and expanded to cover all Americans.

“Trump and his cronies have already proposed drastic cuts to Medicare: $845 billion—billion with a ‘b’—in cuts in Medicare over the next ten years,” Barbara DeVane, secretary of the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans, said during a press conference earlier Thursday. “Now that’s a fact, folks. You know it, I know it.”

Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, said in a statement that “actions speak louder than words.”

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“Trump’s budget cuts nearly a trillion dollars from Medicare, and his Texas lawsuit would reopen the Medicare ‘donut hole’ for seniors and jack up their prescription drug costs, all while he and his GOP allies refuse to end the ban on Medicare negotiating lower prices for prescription drugs,” said Woodhouse. “No amount of lip-service or false promises can undo the damage he’s already done, and will continue to do to Americans’ healthcare.”


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Trump is wallowing in ‘self-pity’ even though McConnell promised to protect him: Morning Joe

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Appearing on MNBC's "Morning Joe," New York Times reporter Peter Baker said Donald Trump is wallowing in "self-pity" that fluctuates with "combativeness" as he worries about the effect being impeached will have on his legacy.

Speaking with host Joe Scarborough, Baker filled in the blanks from his Times report, saying the president is obsessed with the impeachment hearings and Senate trial still to come.

Asked by host Scarborough about Trump's "humiliation," Baker said, "He can count on the Republican-controlled Senate to hold the trial where he seems almost certain to be acquitted, or at least see the charges dismissed in some fashion."

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WATCH LIVE: House holds historic vote on the impeachment of Donald Trump

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After a 14-hour House Judiciary Committee Thursday hearing considering the impeachment of Donald Trump, Democrats and Republicans on the committee will reconvene once again Friday morning where they are expected to finally vote on the articles of impeachment before sending them to the House floor for a full vote scheduled for next week.

According to NBC, "In a surprise move, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler delayed the vote until Friday morning at 10 a.m. after more than 14 hours of debate. There were five votes on Thursday: one to eliminate the first article on abuse of power, a second to strike a reference to former Vice President Joe Biden, a third to note the aid withheld from Ukraine was eventually released, a fourth to strike entire second amendment on obstruction of Congress and a fifth to strike the last lines in each article. All were voted down and along party lines."

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‘Trump was caught’: Every major GOP excuse for president’s conduct destroyed by ex-prosecutor

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Former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade said Thursday's marathon impeachment hearing left her "shouting" at her television, so she gathered her thoughts and blew up Republican defenses one by one.

McQuade, an MSNBC legal analyst and former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, exposed the weaknesses in each of the GOP's sometimes contradictory defenses of President Donald Trump against impeachment by the House of Representatives.

Here are the GOP defenses I have heard so far to articles of impeachment, along with the knee-jerk responses I have been shouting at my television.

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