Universal healthcare was unthinkable in America, but not any more

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/sep/16/medicare-for-all-universal-healthcare-democrats

A single-payer healthcare system appears closer than ever but to make it a reality we must avoid the pitfalls of the past

Sun 16 Sep 2018

Barack Obama dropped a bombshell into the healthcare debate roiling the Democratic party last Friday. “Democrats aren’t just running on good old ideas like a higher minimum wage,” he said, “they’re running on good new ideas, like Medicare for All …” His endorsement made headlines, and for a good reason: until recently, real universal healthcare had long resided on the margins of the American political discourse. Obama’s announcement, then, was yet one more indication that this idea – also called single-payer healthcare – had migrated to the mainstream. The shift is an encouraging development for proponents, to be sure, but there is also cause for caution: as history shows, formidable political obstacles and pitfalls lie ahead.

It is difficult to overstate how far single-payer has recently moved. Consider, for a moment, where things stood after Democrats took the presidency and both houses of Congress in 2008. “The White House and Democratic leaders have made clear,” the Washington Post reported the following year, “there is no chance that Congress will adopt a single-payer approach … because it is too radical a change.” Single-payer supporters didn’t even have a seat at the table (and some were arrested when they showed up anyway).

Following the passage of the Affordable Care Act, however, several developments pushed single-payer to the fore. First, although Obamacare expanded coverage to some 20 million people – achieving much good – it raised hopes that universal healthcare would be achieved while failing to deliver it: some 29 million remain uninsured today, while many more face onerous deductibles, restrictive insurance networks, surprise bills, unaffordable medications, medical bankruptcies and disruptions in care with every change in insurance plan.

Next, there was the 2016 election of Donald Trump, which made it obvious that Republicans lacked even a semi-serious alternative. Congressman Paul Ryan’s long-awaited ACA repeal bill was mostly a mechanism to transfer healthcare dollars from the poor into the savings accounts of the rich, and it seemed to satisfy no one except for wealthy donors.

Finally, there was a marked progressive shift within the Democratic party, beginning with the 2015-16 presidential primary campaign. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton opposed single-payer, saying it would “never, ever” happen, but it was central to the platform of Vermont senator Bernie Sanders. Sanders lost the primary, of course, but he advocated better ideas.

Obama’s endorsement of single-payer on Friday (despite having previously said something similar) is therefore tantamount to a major shift in the Overton window, reflecting years of activism by single-payer supporters as well as a historic intra-party shift.

Today, in primary contests across the country, progressive Medicare-for-All proponents are ousting more centrist and establishment candidates – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s surprise primary win in New York’s 14th congressional district being the most popular example. At the same time, public support has soared: a recent Reuters poll found that 70.1% want Medicare for All, including 84.5% of Democrats. One might even argue that for people who want a job as a Democratic politician, in other words, supporting single-payer is nearly becoming a prerequisite.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/sep/16/medicare-for-all-universal-healthcare-democrats

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Federal court rules North Carolina cannot ban trans people from restrooms

From LGBTQ Nation: https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2018/10/federal-court-rules-north-carolina-cannot-ban-trans-people-restrooms/

Monday, October 1, 2018

A federal court has declared that House Bill 142, the law that replaced North Carolina’s discriminatory House Bill 2, doesn’t bar transgender people from using public facilities – including restrooms.

Federal Judge Thomas Schroeder issued the decision Sunday evening, adding that, “Nothing in the language of Section 2 (of HB 142) can be construed to prevent transgender individuals from using the restrooms that align with their gender identity.”

This effectively returned North Carolina to pre-HB2 days as far as trans restroom use is concerned.  Transgender people in the state may use restrooms that match their self-identity, not based on, for example, their birth certificate.

The ACLU and Lambda Legal represent the six plaintiffs in the case.

“I am relieved to finally have the court unequivocally say that there is no law in North Carolina that can be used to bar transgender people from using restrooms that match who we are,” said Joaquin Carcaño, lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, said.

“For the past two and a half years, I have been unable to use restrooms in my home state without worrying that I will be subject to discrimination, harassment, or even arrest.”

“In light of this ruling, there should no longer be any excuse for discrimination in government facilities against transgender students and employees, who are simply trying to get through daily life like everyone else,” said Lambda Legal Counsel Tara Borelli.

“H.B. 142 and H.B. 2 no longer provide a fig leaf for denying transgender people equal dignity and access to public facilities on the same terms that all other North Carolinians can take for granted.”

Continue reading at:  https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2018/10/federal-court-rules-north-carolina-cannot-ban-trans-people-restrooms/

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Brett Kavanaugh: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

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