Incorruptible Massachusetts

The Case for Medicare for All in Massachusetts -- Mass-Care and Healthcare Now

February 28, 2020 Anna Callahan Season 2 Episode 3
Incorruptible Massachusetts
The Case for Medicare for All in Massachusetts -- Mass-Care and Healthcare Now
Chapters
Incorruptible Massachusetts
The Case for Medicare for All in Massachusetts -- Mass-Care and Healthcare Now
Feb 28, 2020 Season 2 Episode 3
Anna Callahan

Hi, this is Anna Callahan and you’re listening to Incorruptible Massachusetts.  Our goal is to help people understand state politics: we’re investigating why it’s so broken, imagining what we could have here in MA if we fixed it, and reporting on how you can get involved. 

Today I’m interviewing Rebecca Wood from Mass-Care and Benjamin Day from Healthcare Now.  Both are working to pass a Medicare for All-type healthcare system.

I think it’s hard to listen to this interview and not feel outraged.  Rebecca Wood’s personal story is one that no one should ever have, and it always brings me to tears.  It’s only in America that people have heart-wrenching stories like hers.  

Under Mitt Romney, our state was the first to pass an ObamaCare-like system; we were leaders then and should be leaders now, especially when polls show that a strong majority of Massachusetts residents favor it.  State Rep Lindsay Sabadosa has introduced a bill that would enact a single-payer, Medicare for all-like system here in Massachusetts.  Why can’t we pass it?

You’ll hear two more outrageous things in this interview.  The first is that our current healthcare system is quickly becoming so expensive for our state that it is "devouring the governments ability to provide services for anything else.”  We must pass single-payer just to be fiscally responsible.  

The second thing is that the healthcare lobby is now the most powerful lobby acting at the state level.  It used to be people in finance meeting in an old bank vault, this is no joke — and now it’s health industry lobbyists that control the state house. 

About my interviewees: 

Rebecca Wood is a Community Organizer with Mass-Care, Massachusetts Campaign For Single Payer Health Care. Rebecca told her and Charlie’s story at the introduction of Senator Sanders’ Medicare For All Act of 2017 and testified before the House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Pathways to Universal Coverage. Prior to working on single-payer health care, she was a park ranger. 

Benjamin Day is the executive Director of Healthcare-NOW, which is fighting to win a national single-payer healthcare system.  He was previously the Executive Director of Mass-Care.  Prior to his work at Mass-Care, Ben's background was in labor education and labor research.

Without further ado, here is my conversation with Rebecca Wood and Benjamin Day.

Show Notes Transcript

Hi, this is Anna Callahan and you’re listening to Incorruptible Massachusetts.  Our goal is to help people understand state politics: we’re investigating why it’s so broken, imagining what we could have here in MA if we fixed it, and reporting on how you can get involved. 

Today I’m interviewing Rebecca Wood from Mass-Care and Benjamin Day from Healthcare Now.  Both are working to pass a Medicare for All-type healthcare system.

I think it’s hard to listen to this interview and not feel outraged.  Rebecca Wood’s personal story is one that no one should ever have, and it always brings me to tears.  It’s only in America that people have heart-wrenching stories like hers.  

Under Mitt Romney, our state was the first to pass an ObamaCare-like system; we were leaders then and should be leaders now, especially when polls show that a strong majority of Massachusetts residents favor it.  State Rep Lindsay Sabadosa has introduced a bill that would enact a single-payer, Medicare for all-like system here in Massachusetts.  Why can’t we pass it?

You’ll hear two more outrageous things in this interview.  The first is that our current healthcare system is quickly becoming so expensive for our state that it is "devouring the governments ability to provide services for anything else.”  We must pass single-payer just to be fiscally responsible.  

The second thing is that the healthcare lobby is now the most powerful lobby acting at the state level.  It used to be people in finance meeting in an old bank vault, this is no joke — and now it’s health industry lobbyists that control the state house. 

About my interviewees: 

Rebecca Wood is a Community Organizer with Mass-Care, Massachusetts Campaign For Single Payer Health Care. Rebecca told her and Charlie’s story at the introduction of Senator Sanders’ Medicare For All Act of 2017 and testified before the House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Pathways to Universal Coverage. Prior to working on single-payer health care, she was a park ranger. 

Benjamin Day is the executive Director of Healthcare-NOW, which is fighting to win a national single-payer healthcare system.  He was previously the Executive Director of Mass-Care.  Prior to his work at Mass-Care, Ben's background was in labor education and labor research.

Without further ado, here is my conversation with Rebecca Wood and Benjamin Day.

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/incorruptible_massachusetts)

Anna Callahan:   0:04
Hi, this is Anna Callahan, and you're listening to Incorruptible Massachusetts. Our goal is to help people understand state politics. We're investigating why it's so broken, imagining what we could have here in Massachusetts if we fixed it, and reporting on how *you* can get involved.

Anna Callahan:   2:32
Hey, there! Today we're here with Rebecca Wood from Mass-Care and Benjamin Day from Healthcare-NOW!, and we're here to talk about Medicare for all at the state level here in Massachusetts. Thanks so much for coming.

Rebecca Wood:   2:48
Thanks for having us.

Benjamin Day:   0:00
Yeah. Thank you for having us.

Anna Callahan:   3:21
Yeah. So, first, I'd love for you each to introduce the organizations that you're with and what your mission is. Do you want to start, Ben? 

Benjamin Day:   3:21
Sure. So I'm the director of Healthcare-NOW!, which is the national Medicare For All umbrella organization. We have community groups fighting for Medicare For All across the country. And our focus is on, you know, both passing this through Congress, but also supporting state level work. Our offices are based here in Boston, so we also have a foot here in Massachusetts politics.

Anna Callahan:   0:00
Great.

Rebecca Wood:   3:22
I'm the community organizer for Mass-Care, and I've been doing it for a few months now, so I'm kind of new at the job, and we share offices with Healthcare-NOW!. In fact, I could turn around and throw something at Ben if I'd like to, that's how close we are. We work on the state and national level in organizing for Medicare For All.

Anna Callahan:   3:53
Is it safe to say that Healthcare-NOW! is a little bit more on the national level, and Mass-Care is trying to pass it on the state level?

Rebecca Wood:   3:59
Yeah. So with Mass-Care, we're probably a little more state focused right now, but we do work on the national level because we have groups out in areas where the state leaders are wonderful on Medicare For All but maybe their Congressman hasn't signed on to the Medicare For All bill that's in the house right now, so we'll work on that instead.

Anna Callahan:   4:22
Great! Um, just, uh, quickly, I'd love to hear sort of personal stories about why you're each involved.

Benjamin Day:   4:32
Oh, those are not quick stories.

Rebecca Wood:   4:32
You go first. I was going to say you go first, because you kind of like, brought me into it, so it would only make sense that...

Benjamin Day:   4:51
Yeah, so we both got this as patients -- we had patient stories. I had a background in labor education, labor research in the labor movement. I was living in upstate New York. I ended up being admitted to the hospital for a few days there. But when I was discharged, my doctor said, "You know, don't freak out, but your insurance company says they're not gonna cover your stay in the hospital." And I ended up with a $4000 hospital bill at a time when I was earning about $14,000 a year, so it might as well have been four million to me. And when I moved back to Massachusetts -- like, I'm from here. I grew up in the Boston area -- I was looking for work and I ran into Mass-Care who was hiring an organizer, and I had an organizing background, and I was just, you know, I was so done with this. I had no idea that that could even happen in America. I thought I was insured. I thought I was safe, and that was kind of the day I learned that basically, no one in America has health security. Everyone, even if you have a good job, good health care, you're basically one serious illness or injury away from losing your job, losing that good insurance and then just being financially ruined by your health care costs.

Rebecca Wood:   5:57
Oh, please. Mine's not so bad. It's got... it's got kind of ah, happy ending in a way.

Rebecca Wood:   0:00
So mine started... my husband and I, we got married and, um, finished college, moved to Northern Virginia. And he had a career. I was looking at going to grad school and he said, "Let's have a baby." And that hadn't... idea had never crossed my mind before. And I said, "Sure, okay, if we're gonna do it, it's gotta be now because I'm not getting any younger." And so we decided to.

Rebecca Wood:   0:00
And living in Northern Virginia, everything just seemed to be going right. We're looking at buying a condo in Falls Church. He had a bright, uh, big income with a bright future, good career and everything. And insurance, health care, none of that really ever crossed my mind. But then I got preeclampsia at 24 weeks, and my daughter was delivered at 26 weeks and I thought we had good insurance. And so again, I really didn't think about it.

Rebecca Wood:   0:00
She was in the NICU for three months. Her birth weight was one pound twelve ounces, so it took a while for her to grow and be healthy enough to come home. It was pretty awful. Um, but so she came home and then she had all of these medical needs. They just came one after another after another. And so she ended up having, like, eight specialists. She needed PT, OT, speech, orthotics, specialty formula. So many things, I can -- I could -- take the whole podcast listing them.

Rebecca Wood:   0:00
Anyhow, the out-of-pocket, because of deductibles, copays, exclusions, automatic denials -- it was just brutal. And so we stopped living in Northern Virginia because after we went through our savings, we couldn't exactly live there and, um, pay for her bills. And we moved out to the mountains, and still it just bled us dry.

Rebecca Wood:   0:00
And then I had to make choices between my health care and hers. At first, it was my asthma medication that went. And then, um, right around the time her speech was emerging, when she was about three, three and a half, I needed a root canal in a crown, and I figured, well, I've got to pay her speech copay right now, and I need this. I'll just pay her speech and, you know, get the root canal and crown next pay period. During that, that one pay period -- this still just eats at me -- I ended up getting an infection that spread through my entire mouth and jaw, and I had to go to the emergency room because the swelling cut off my airway. And so then after IV antibiotics, I was discharged and they said, "Go to your dentist because we don't pull teeth here and you're going to need some teeth pulled." And so, um, because, you know, I had this massive infection, I didn't have time to argue with insurance that an oral surgeon should cover it because it's now medical and everything. I just had to go, and what I could afford was a regular dentist. So in six and a half hours under local anesthesia, they had all of my teeth pulled and parts of my jaw scraped away. And the worst part is is I thought I deserved it because my child was doing so well that that was the price of a miracle.

Rebecca Wood:   0:00
So, fast forward. 2017 happens, and the A.C.A. -- it looks like it's going to be repealed. So after the hell we had been through, the NICU, all of the work my daughter had done, everything I'd given up, including parts of my face that looked like this was the end of the road for us. This was going to be what cut her future short.

Rebecca Wood:   0:00
And I thought, "Oh, hell no." So I went up to Capitol Hill. I'd never been interested in politics or anything before that. So I had no idea what I was doing. And in fact, I was kind of dumb and naive because I was like, "Oh, if they just see what they're doing, then they'll just stop." No, I went up there and, you know, told our story to anybody who would listen protested, marched, everything. And I very well could tell they knew what they were doing, and they just didn't care, which infuriated me. And --

Anna Callahan:   0:00
They have good health care.

Rebecca Wood:   0:00
Oh, yeah. Yeah. Well, so, during the fight, my daughter loves this band called Dispatch. Um, Chad's actually from the Boston area. Um, So we were on tour with them, and we're -- We weren't on tour with them. We were like seeing some of their tour in Austin, Texas. And while we're there it's like, "Oh, [Senator John] Cornyn and [Senator Ted] Cruz have offices here. We should go visit!"

Rebecca Wood:   0:00
And so we went and visited. And it was Cornyn's office where it said "Buzz for staff." So I did, and I buzzed and like, their staffer like, peeks out and goes, "Can I help you?" I was like, "Hi, yeah, want to talk about health care?" And she's like, "Okay, talk!" And [unintelligible] crack in the door. And so then I just handed her our papers and told our story and everything, and she just, like, closed it and left. I was like, "That's weird." Because on Capitol Hill could walk in the office, have a snack jet with staffers If they have the TV, I kick your feet up, watch TV with a you know, there. No.

Rebecca Wood:   0:00
So then we go to Cruz's office next, and it's in a federal building, and it's complete with -- you can't even get in there. Like the staffers have to like come out and talk to you. And I was shocked because again, Capitol Hill is what I knew at this point, and so as I'm walking away it dawns on me. It's like, no wonder they don't care about, um, smart gun policy. No wonder, because they live in these gun free zones and these gated communities, and they work in these gun free zones and it, like, quicksand. My head. The only way we're gonna have health care justices in the guise of writing the policy have to live by it. And so that was kind of like my moment, but the A C A fight was still happening. So way did that. And, um, I ended up doing some civil disobedience for the very first of 10 times on. Then McCain did the thumbs down. And after that, you know, everybody was so excited, and I still felt empty. And by this point, I had realized that would happen to me. Wasn't my fault. It was of a huge policy failure. What happened to my family? And so then, after talking the people, I realized I wanted to fight for Medicare For All. And so then that brought me to Ben in my journey. So that was really, really Uh huh.

Anna Callahan:   13:09
So, uh, if I was gonna ask quickly when Ben did you join the Massachusetts for Baker.

Benjamin Day:   13:17
I was hired at the very beginning of 2006 which was basically the Romney care end of the Roman care passage around here. Fight.

Anna Callahan:   13:27
So So this is interesting to me because I think most people in the country and probably most people in Massachusetts think that, like, this idea of Medicare for all started four years ago, you know? So I mean, I gotta say, my mom is British and grew up in Britain, and she my whole life, we've just had this idea that, like, it's insanity to not have nationalized health care. That's totally ridiculous. But every time I talk to anybody, people just laughing out of the room, right, So So I'm really curious. What did that fight? What is can you quickly give me the history of like, Okay, wow. In 2006 that's what was happening. Was it happening before they do?

Benjamin Day:   14:10
Well, I mean, you could go back almost half a century. I mean, Truman tried to introduce the national health plan in the 19 fifties that almost passed. He ran on this president majorities in the House and Senate so you could go way back. I mean, I think the social movement for Medicare for all, is relatively new ish, kind of especially for healthcare. Now, most of these single payer groups emerged in the late nineties and earlytwo thousands. Almost all of them are dated around that period. So our social movement is, you know, 15 20 years of shoulds, but the phrase Medicare for all is new. But

Anna Callahan:   14:45
before that, before that, it was

Benjamin Day:   14:48
called single payer health care. Before that was called National Health Health Care. So, you know, the phrase is is new, but, uh, you know, when I was hired, there was actually a campaign to make health care rights in the mysteries. This Constitution, it was destroyed right around the time that romneycare was passed. Almost no one knows about it. It wasn't even covered in the Boston Globe or anything. So that was my introduction of Massachusetts politics. And it was eye opening. It didn't even get on the ballots. It was supposed to be a ballot initiative to make health care rights similar to the way that education is right. Massachusetts. We were the first state to make public education right for all residents, and it was actually the first in the world. England based their entire education system on the Massachusetts public education model. Initially s O. They said we're gonna use similar language. Make health care, right? We're not going to say how you do it, but you have to cover every single person. It has to be comprehensive. Care can be healed CAF s type, deductible care, and then we kind of know the only way to do that afford it is to do it by Medicare for all. So we felt that if we get that in the Constitution, that extent would have to be Medicare for all. But it's a little thing that stood in the way, which was Massachusetts Legislature

Anna Callahan:   16:00
once one time Massachusetts was a leader long ago. Can you give me some information about where we stand now in terms off across America for all here in Massachusetts?

Rebecca Wood:   16:13
Well, we have the wonderful Senator Jamie Eldridge as they lead sponsor the bill in the Senate and a representative Lindsey Sabadosa as the lead sponsor in the House. And they have formed the Medicare for all caucus, which is kind of amazing because you have legislators who not only just sign on but are more involved in getting in making it happen. To be a member of the caucus, you have to hold an event in your, um, like district. Thank you. Look signing here, hold an event in your district and, um, go to meetings and move helped push the bill forward. So that's exciting. As far as how many do we have signed on? Now it's in

Benjamin Day:   17:01
the seventies. It's It's a pretty high level, actually. And as with most issues, Medicare for all is much stronger in the Senate. I think we could probably get close to winning a vote in the Senate in the next year or two. But in the House is just almost impossible to even get co sponsors because, as you know, House leadership has tremendous power to decide what moves toward and what doesn't and even what is acceptable to support and what's not. House leadership has never been supportive of Medicare. For all you know, I've had I've had meetings with reps where they said, Yeah, you know, I would sign on for this, but I want to be involved with passing health care reform, and if I support Medicare for all leadership will basically see me. Is not being, you know will sideline me from working on health care reform policies. As you know, there's about 1/3 of the houses in leadership. Third is trying to get into climate pollution. Thea other third is not allowed to do anything at all.

Anna Callahan:   18:02
Wow, I like that phrasing so wise leadership against it. Well,

Benjamin Day:   18:10
I think it's because the health care industry is the most powerful lobby in the state right now. Most states are actually not like that. The health care industry is a large industry, but here it's just a massive industry. You know, I don't know if you know about the vault. Uh, this is S o the vault. Is this old? It used to be the financial industry that was the most powerful lobby and kind of coordinated the business lobby. And yes, there was a secret group that met in a vault in Boston that was called the Vault is the whole interesting history. They would basically coordinate the capitalist interests on the statehouse. But about 10 years ago, there was a clear changing of the guard in the health care industry is now without question, the most powerful lobby in the state. So I think that has a little bit something e. I don't know if they need in a bank vault are. Maybe it's an emergency room of a closed hospital or something.

Anna Callahan:   19:12
Like playing with surgical. They're playing with my teeth S. So So what are you working on like, What is your job, Rebecca Day Day. What are you trying to do to get past the state?

Rebecca Wood:   19:33
That's a tough one. I'm a jack of all trades. My main focus right now is we work on a hub system where we have groups established in different areas of the state to work on the representatives, toehold farms and educate their districts to join them and work on representatives. So we either go to establish groups that are left thinking, huh? Or where we are a CE faras health care policy is and talk to them and ask if they would like to be our hub in in charge of Medicare for all work for their district. And a lot of them have said yes and signed on groups such a cz our revolution. Um, I think we have a P d A group. There's precedent. Yes, I'm sorry. Criticisms of America? Yes. Um, So who else do we have some indivisible. Some not DSC groups

Benjamin Day:   20:36
of activists who decide they want. Yeah, Medicare for all group in their area. There's communities of faith who have started America

Rebecca Wood:   20:44
progressive Massachusetts groups eso all kinds of seniors groups. So, yeah, we've we've just got all kinds, and so I go out to them and I support them. And then in areas where we may not have a strong interest, I tryto find who would be interested in trying to drum up a hub there. So that's mainly what I work on. I also do office stuff, and then from time to time, I speak and do stuff like this.

Anna Callahan:   21:17
So I mean, obviously we I have trouble with the statehouse. Systemically. But on this podcast, just about every single episode I ask about, How could we have more people running for office or what do you recommend people running for office? It seems like Lindsay is new, So maybe getting some new people who are not quite indoctrinated into the current culture of the State House would be helpful. Gus?

Benjamin Day:   21:49
Yeah. I worked on my district that I lived in the last whatever 14 15 years is was in Jamaica Plain, which was Jeff Sanchez district. So I worked on Monica together, regardless. Campaign which, you know, she ran on Medicare for all, among other issues, with which, at the time, you know, Sanchez had been for a long time, the chair healthcare finance. It had been his job to block Medicare for all from are moving through committee. Andi raised more money, I think, than any other state rep, probably in the history of the state Legislature. Aside from DeLay Oh, who raises money without even having a challenger. And so there would be required a massive grassroots effort, though, to get her elected, which I think is similar to what it's gonna take to pass legislation like this. But, you know, it really sent shockwaves. I think through the statehouse and we've been seeing the same thing happened nationally is becoming harder and harder for Democrats to oppose Medicare for all. And when the mecca for all bill had a hearing just this past year, I've been a lot of, you know, every every time you finally get a hearing on the bill. That's been to a lot of over the years, and this one was really, really different. No Democrat on the committee, which was felt comfortable, just outright opposed Medicare for all

Anna Callahan:   23:05
the visit of the National knows that state

Benjamin Day:   23:07
level in Massachusetts. Legislature got hearing. And so you know, the Gen. Benson, who is now the new health care committee chair. Just last year she had filed Ability have been the lead sponsor of a bill that would essentially forced the state Thio estimate how much it costs to do Medicare for all. And if it proves to be cheaper to cover everyone through Medicare for all, then the state would have to introduce develop a single payer plan to introduce the Legislature as soon as she becomes Chair Healthcare Finance, though she says, well, in theory, Medicare, for all is good. But in practice, we can't, you know, this'll business, but that's actually very different from past years where the chairs have said no, we're opposed to this. This is not gonna happen. It's bad policy. I remember when they cost Romney care. They said This is gonna be better than that for all. It's gonna be cheaper it's gonna cover basically universal health care. So the tenor has shifted, and now the defense's to evade basically instead of to come out right and oppose it. And to me, that's indicative of the fact that we are starting to win this movement. Um, and the opposition is scrambling more and more. You know what we're seeing at the national level? Is there introducing alternatives to Medicare? For all that, they're calling things very similar to Medicare for

Anna Callahan:   24:25
all so all right, feeling

Benjamin Day:   24:28
their co opting, the messaging, co opting the values, which is again, a sign that we are starting to win. And it's like, Well, let's not do Medicare fraud. Let's do Medicare extra for all, which turns out to be a terrible plan.

Anna Callahan:   24:41
Medicare for America. Our villages fines. So things are

Benjamin Day:   24:51
changing. Things have dramatically shifted in recent years. Yeah,

Rebecca Wood:   24:57
well, um, to the how to get people to run for office. Question. I I moved here from Virginia last spring, So all of those people who wanted Virginia, some of them were my friends, and some of them ran for the very first time, like Sally ran for State Senate for the first time. in one. And, um, Michael Pain one for City Council for the first time in one. And they are Michael Pain is an active member, D s A. And so in Virginia he won, and Sally is a Medicare for all supporter. She's an economist at u v a and just sitting at the table with them on we're sitting. I remember when Sally decided to run. There's a group of us sitting at the table in Somebody said during should run and she's like, I can't run I'm an economist Nobody wants on economist like way No, Sally, you should run. And I said, If you run, I'll do whatever it takes to help you win as faras, you know, door knocking and all of that. And so I think if we all know people who should run, you should tell them that and push them and then support them, not just financially if we have the means, because I sure don't, but I can knock doors. Can you hand out fliers? I can hold signs. I can, you know, go to rallies and stuff like that. I think that's really what it takes is to get the people around you who are close to you to support you and push you out the door. Because I think running for public office is one of the bravest things anybody can d'oh! And that's coming from somebody who's been dragged out of Congress on

Anna Callahan:   26:41
national TV. Oh, we owe you very welcome back anymore. More people run. So it sounds like what people innocent people can do now is if they contact you. If they want to be either form a hab or join a hub, is that something that you can help them with?

Rebecca Wood:   27:13
Absolutely. They can email me, um, do you want me to do? You're welcome. Did you want me to be? Oh, so they can email me. It's Rebecca, R E B E C C A at mass care dot or ge. And, um, I can help you set up a hub. I could sit down and talk with you to see if that's something you're interested in, or maybe just joining up with one of our other hubs. There is a place for everybody in this movement, and we will help you find yours. So if you want to join in, reach out to me Or if you want to run for public office, I need a pep talk. I'm up for doing that, too.

Anna Callahan:   27:54
Um, how does the national affect the state level?

Benjamin Day:   28:03
That's a big question. Um, so in what way do you mean? Our ability to pass Medicare for all our Okay, So, um, the easiest way. Well, not the not the political easiest, but the economically easiest way too fast. Medicare for all, would be to have a national plan that covers the whole country. But, you know, a lot of us look to Canada and Canada got universal health care is actually

Rebecca Wood:   28:26
that was

Benjamin Day:   28:27
one of its first believer. Not Saskatchewan was the first province. They passed universal hospital care, and then other provinces did it next and on Lee, after a number of provinces sort of did this and enacted Medicare for all was their national bill. Much, much later on dhe. You know, we are making a lot of progress in Congress, but as you know, you basically need a Democratic Senate, Democratic house, democratic presidents, and you needed to be the priority of the president. And you need basically 100% support in the house in the Senate. We're getting close. I mean, we're making leaps and bounds each year, so I don't wantto, you know, dismiss that. But a lot of us do look to the fact that if a state could do this and you know, Masters, this is bigger than about half of the European countries that have Medicare for all. So we can do this. We can do it. It's feasible, its economic, all that stuff. But there are some, you know, federal programs that we get funds from the federal government. So Medicare, which cover seniors, is almost entirely federally funded Medicaid, which covers some low income people and people with disabilities and pregnant parents. That is about half funded by the federal government. There's a bunch of others. There's the Veterans Administration so on. So if we pass it at the state level, we do have to sort of navigate those federal funds. It's a little more logistically complicated. You have to get like, a waiver for some things, but it is doable, and it is feasible to pass it here so

Rebecca Wood:   29:55
well. I mean, look what happened with Romneycare, right? You know, it started here That only an idea Well, you know, Charlie did do really well because of the way so she ate her birth is a pre existing condition, so she wouldn't have been in terrible when she was here. And not only that, but she would have exceeded a lifetime cat before she ever came home for the first time. So we have a lot to be grateful for a ce faras progress and health policy. But we can do so much better. So that's what I'm gonna That's what I want t o there

Anna Callahan:   30:30
any other ways that there's already another policies that could affect Medicare fraud at the state level? Look about a bank or if there is anything that sort of related Thio.

Rebecca Wood:   30:44
So Ro Khanna has a bill out. Now that clears up a lot of confusion we had in the State House with the state's being allowed to pass health care. Did you want to talk more about that? He's kind of like our knowledge of

Benjamin Day:   31:00
Congress that would make it easier for states to pass Medicare for all. So yeah, that would obviously be a huge help to sort of clear the way. Are you asking about other state legislation or

Anna Callahan:   31:11
I'm wondering if there is. Maybe there isn't anything but any other legislation on the state level that would make it easier to pass Medicare for all

Benjamin Day:   31:22
Medical parole is is kind of unique among the social movements we fight for in that it's very hard to divide it up into pieces that you can win one of the time, which, you know, the civil rights movement was kind of like that. The environmental rights are kind of like that. Sort of you can you can have partial victories for most big social movements we fight for medical is tough because the way it works is you save money by having just one plan that covers everyone, and that's how you save all the money. It cuts out a lot of the administrative costs. It allows you to kind of budget sort of the way that we might budget You know any other public program on, and that is what lets you do. The universal healthcare part is having that one system, so but that's having the one system is the thing that is so politically difficult because it means getting rid of the insurance companies. Basically, it means that you're gonna have some leverage over the providers. You're gonna be paying the providers through one system and it's gonna publicly negotiated rates. Farmer is definitely not gonna be happy. You're gonna be negotiating drug prices down. So it's kind of like an all or nothing type of thing and really, the model of passing health care reform that the Affordable Care Act used that Romneycare used is like, Let's get all of the so called stakeholders around the table. And the stakeholders are, you know, hospitals, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and patient advocates. And let's hammers like that we can all agree on. And what that looks like is usually, let's agree to expand access to care, which I agree with, and we should keep fighting for by spending lots more money on health care is now about half of the state budget, really and help their costs keep going up faster than inflation. And what that means is that every year the share of the state budget that's available for everything else public education, public safety schools, local aid falls every single year, So the healthcare system is literally devouring. Government's ability to provide service is for anything else.

Anna Callahan:   33:21
I think it's really fascinating, and most people do not understand how it effects how the sheer cost of health care right now is affecting other budgetary constraints.

Benjamin Day:   33:32
Yeah, I mean, if if you wanted a simple visualization of this, you can go to the massive Budget and Policy Center's budget tool, and you can literally just pull up a graph. Look, a healthcare devouring all of our public spending on. You can also see how much it's grown just over the last 10 15 years. You know, not that long ago health care spending was just like 1/3 of the state budget on it's grown so rapidly that now we're up to about half.

Anna Callahan:   33:58
That is something that I think would have shocked a lot of people.

Benjamin Day:   34:02
And it's It's the same, actually, at the federal budget. It's the same when you look at municipal budgets, cities and towns, actually, because on they're not even paying for Medicaid, they're just paying for city employees health care costs. But you know, we have this Proposition two and 1/2 thing in Massachusetts where you know, cities and towns basically get their income from property taxes. Those air not allowed to go up by more than two and 1/2 percent. And then your health care premiums are going up 10%. 15% 20% sometimes 30%. So often those rising health care costs are eating all of the new revenue each year that are available in cities and towns. And so it's just destroying municipal budgets. It's destroying the state budget. And needless to state, it's destroying household budgets on business budgets also. So this is really it's Ah, it's a Titanic that is kind of on its way to destruction. Eventually, Andi, it's eating up our ability to do anything else in the society. So this is why it is such an urgent issue, not just access to health care, but also it's destroying the economy and the ability to government. Everything

Anna Callahan:   35:06
is rosy picture for you. It's almost the opposite of what I was asking about. It's like in order to pass any of those things that we want, we want fund, we've got past. There's

Benjamin Day:   35:16
ridiculous intersectionality between Medicare, for all of everything else, I mean about 2/3 of home foreclosures, or actually do the medical bills that have piled up in medical debt. There's Intersectionality, obviously with reproductive justice and action access to reproductive health care. So this is needed

Rebecca Wood:   35:36
disabilities as well. Disability Service's yet fight of all of our lifetimes.

Anna Callahan:   35:46
Amazing. Do you know what final thoughts do you have before we close up?

Rebecca Wood:   35:50
You want to go first? I, um I I want this to happen so badly. I feel like nobody should ever have heard my story. Nobody should know my name. I should still be in Virginia as a park ranger. That's honestly, that's honestly what I want to dio. I don't want to be doing this. I feel like it's a duty and I need to see it through. But quite honestly, I will be happy when it's over. And I just want to get back to playing outside. So the quicker we could make that happen Massachusetts. And the

Anna Callahan:   36:26
better we are. Yeah, I

Benjamin Day:   36:31
mean, I would bring this back to kind of the topic of the podcast, which is Massachusetts politics, and why do we not have this year? You know, we've had Democratic governors for decades, Not at the moment we have a former health insurance CEO was the governor of the moment. But, I mean, we still have Ah, you know, a veto proof majority in the House and the Senate. It's dominated by Democrats. Why do we not have this yet here in Massachusetts, And the answer, I think, is what you can understand is that, you know, the health care industry is so powerful here. But, I mean, there's almost 90% of Democrats support Medicare for also, to find a room full of Democrats who don't agree with this you have to be at the State House is the only room you could find in the state. Andi think especially the House side has such a democracy gap with just not only Democrats but with the society that is represented by the House, that we also have to be kind of part of this democracy movement, which I think we would have had this a Massachusetts just years and years and years ago if we had a state Legislature that was more like, you know, more open, more accountable on. It's not normal, you know, now that I work in the national organization for the last 10 years or so, very stupid. Few state legislatures are as undemocratic is ours. So I think, uh, yes, we're progressive states, but we have such a democracy gap here that it's sort of inhibited our ability to lead into just kind of address basic social rights and economic rights. Like like Medicare. Wrong.

Anna Callahan:   38:02
Wow, what a closer credit. Although, thank you both. So much for being here and for all over. Thank you.