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Insurance industry is clearly ‘terrified,’ says Bernie Sanders, as lawmakers admit lobbyists helped them write attacks on Medicare for All

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“We are taking on the big-money interests who have an army of lobbyists trying to defeat Medicare for All.”

Documents obtained by the Washington Post Monday showed that lobbyists helped three state lawmakers draft op-eds this year attacking Medicare for All, a revelation Sen. Bernie Sanders highlighted as further evidence that the healthcare industry is “terrified” of the push for single-payer.

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“We are taking on the big-money interests who have an army of lobbyists trying to defeat Medicare for All,” tweeted Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. “They are terrified that the American people recognize that healthcare is a human right. They’re right to be terrified.”

The Post‘s Jeff Stein reported Monday that Montana state Rep. Kathy Kelker (D), Montana state Sen. Jen Gross (D), and an aide to Ohio state Sen. Steve Huffman (R) admitted in interviews that lobbyists helped craft their recent op-eds criticizing Medicare for All. The three columns appeared in local newspapers; none of them disclosed that they were written with the assistance of lobbyists.

“This is just the latest reason we need to reform this broken system where greedy corporations determine who can get medical treatment in America.”
—Wendell Potter, Business for Medicare for All

Kelker and Gross “acknowledged in interviews that editorials they published separately about the single-payer health proposal included language provided by John MacDonald, a lobbyist and consultant in [Montana] who disclosed in private emails that he worked for an unnamed client,” Stein reported.

Kathleen DeLand, an Ohio-based lobbyist, assisted Huffman with his September 30 Sidney Daily News op-ed, which criticized Medicare for All as a “one-size-fits-all approach” that “does not work for healthcare.”

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Huffman’s aide told the Post that he believes DeLand was working for the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF), an industry front group formed last year to fight Medicare for All.

“DeLand’s emails to the Ohio lawmaker’s staff include the acronym for the group in the subject line: ‘PAHCF op-ed – OH – Huffman[3]. docx,'” Stein reported, citing documents provided to the Post by non-profit advocacy group Medicare for All Now.

MacDonald, who edited the Montana lawmakers’ columns, would not confirm to the Post whether he was working for PAHCF.

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“The emails appear to show extensive outside involvement in the Montana lawmakers’ op-eds,” Stein reported. “In a Microsoft Word document, MacDonald removed three paragraphs from a draft of Kelker’s op-ed that pointed out that the United States ‘clearly spends significantly more on healthcare per capita than other developed nations.’ He also deleted a table from the lawmaker’s original draft showing that the United States has higher healthcare spending per capita than France, Germany, Norway, and Switzerland.”

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Wendell Potter, president of advocacy group Business for Medicare for All, said the emails “blow open what I saw firsthand and revealed as a health insurance whistleblower.”

“These companies and their lobbyists will stoop to whatever it takes, no matter how grotesque, to deny people the lifesaving coverage they need,” Potter, a former health insurance executive, told the Post. “This is just the latest reason we need to reform this broken system where greedy corporations determine who can get medical treatment in America.”

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In a series of tweets Monday, Potter called on PAHCF to “come clean about any other op-eds secretly authored by the health insurance industry to discredit Medicare for All.”

“This move by the industry is built on a decades old corporate playbook used previously by Big Tobacco and the NRA,” said Potter. “Placing industry-crafted talking points under the byline of trusted local leaders is a tried and true way to manipulate the public.”

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Larry Noble, who served as general counsel for the Campaign Legal Center and the Federal Election Commission, echoed Potter’s ethical concerns.

“It’s disturbing,” Noble said of the emails in an interview with the Post. “I think there’s a certain ethical obligation to be upfront about who wrote the editorial.”


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2020 Election

Trump makes pitch on Catholic TV: ‘Catholics like their Second Amendment so I saved the Second Amendment’

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President Donald Trump this week made a pitch to Catholic voters based on his assertion that he "saved the Second Amendment."

In a Tuesday interview with the Catholic TV network EWTV, correspondent Tracy Sabol asked Trump if he had a message for Catholic voters.

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2020 Election

‘Survival of organized human society’ at risk: New campaign rallies progressives to vote Trump out

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"As progressives and leftists, we are not going to minimize our disagreements with Joe Biden. But we're also clear-eyed about where things stand. We have a moral responsibility to defeat Trump."

With the goal of boosting progressive voter turnout in swing states that could play a decisive role in November, advocacy group RootsAction.org on Wednesday launched a grassroots campaign aiming to prevent another disastrous four years of President Donald Trump's "war on truth, on decency, on our planet, and on working people."

Organizers of the new "Vote Trump Out" initiative argue that while progressives have major substantive differences with Joe Biden on a number of key issues, "supporting the Democratic nominee in swing states is the only means we have to defeat Trump."

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2020 Election

‘Scared’ Republicans ask House minority leader to lay out an agenda since Trump can’t

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House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has handed out talking points describing the GOP agenda for the upcoming election, since President Donald Trump has been unwilling to chart a course himself.

Some lawmakers "were scared" when Trump was unable to detail his second-term strategy when asked in a recent interview, so several Republicans asked McCarthy to produce an agenda for their own re-election campaigns, reported Axios.

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