Categories
Members

MA Medicare for All

Dear Chairpersons Friedman and Lawn, and members of the Joint Committee on Health Care Finance,

I’m a resident of Florence, writing to supply evidence supporting An Act Establishing Medicare for all in Massachusetts.

I’ve worked as a front-line private physician providing medical care for 40 years. I’ve directly seen the strengths and weaknesses of our medical system, and I see that our healthcare insurance system is failing all of us. I’ve seen the great work of some of the best doctors in the world. I’ve been joined at the bedside by some of the most dedicated and hardworking nurses you can imagine. And I’ve seen up-close how our private medical insurance system hurts almost everyone- people, caregivers, employers, and our society too. I’ve seen a young diabetic woman die because she didn’t have enough money to pay for insulin. I’ve seen several people wait until their cancer got too advanced because they were afraid of the cost of treatment. I’ve seen many people hurt as Covid ravaged poor communities with our non-functional system despite many people “having insurance.” I’ve seen people making impossible trade-offs between paying for their medical care vs paying for their food.

The price we pay for our profit-driven medical insurance system is very high- it’s paid in illness, suffering, and even death. Every other modern country in the world uses single payer health insurance because it’s the best (and most cost-effective) way to pay for healthcare. Other countries pay half of what we pay and have better health outcomes. Our young women should never die during childbirth while bringing our next generation of children into this world. Our older people with limited incomes shouldn’t struggle to pay for their medicines while drug companies make fortunes. For many years our system has been failing. It provides low-quality care at a very high cost, while delivering too little real medical care to people. Everyones’ lives would be better if a single payer system became part of the social fabric of our society.

We need a single payer system that works for people and prioritizes quality medical care over profits, like all the other modern countries in the world. We could have a single payer system here if we just develop the political will to improve our system. Single payer healthcare is extremely popular. Just ask any Medicare recipient if they would ever willingly give up their single payer healthcare to return to private insurance!

In the past, Massachusetts was a leader in healthcare innovation and can be one now. We provided a model for our nation, and can do that again. With the political stalemate in Washington, we can’t wait for the federal government to solve this for us. We need to fix it here and now. We could lead the way for the whole country. A single payer system is the only realistic way for society to pay for our healthcare and lower costs. I strongly urge you to pass the Medicare for All bills H.1267 and S.766 to really improve the lives of the people in our Commonwealth. Our health and well-being depends on solving this now.

Thank you.

Lawrence M. Pareles, MD, FACC

Categories
Resources

News Magic

We’re excited to announce that we have joined the NEWS-MAGIC  (News of MA Grassroots Information Center). It works through a Slack workspace where we can enter our news, upcoming events, etc, which then gets organized into an online calendar that we can then filter as we see fit (by activities, by groups, etc). The News-MAGIC.org calendar is then accessible to us and all the other groups involved.  It works to  publicize our work to other progressives across the state, keep us and our members informed about what other groups are doing, and to help provide content/info for our own newsletters, etc.

News-MAGIC was designed by activists for activists. It is, of course, completely free. The steering committee includes Susan Labandibar (Swing Blue Alliance), Christine Brown and Shaw Yang (Indivisible Acton Area), Lisa Baci (Minuteman Indivisible) and Larry Pareles (Indivisible Northampton) 

GETTING STARTED:
Join the Slack workspace where Susan, Christine, and the rest of the team will give you a warm welcome. Or attend the weekly intro session, which is held every Wednesday at noon.

Join the Slack workspace
RSVP for the intro session

Here are links to calendars that list upcoming events filtered by
Sponsoring Groups (i.e. Swing Left, Swing Blue Alliance)
Type of Activity (i.e., texting, phonebanking, etc.)
All the information you need to plug in and get busy, all in one place!

Categories
Uncategorized

Thank You Leaders

by Seth Wilpan

The opinions expressed in this post are strictly those of the author and do not reflect opinions or positions held by Indivisible Northampton.

In the morning email another plea to call my senators and contact the White House to egg them on to pass the For The People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. After at least 20 years of obvious sabotage of voting rights by the Republican Party it takes a steady outcry from the public to motivate our elected officials to vigorously oppose them. That is a statement about the level of consciousness at which our existential situation is being considered. It goes without saying that it bespeaks a frighteningly low level of awareness, not to mention moral corruption.

It is evident, and has been empirically demonstrated, that at the national level neither elected officials nor government institutions are responsive to the will of the people. Why do we continue to fervently clamor for their support despite a history of, at best, tepid results?

I have to admit that I am susceptible to hopeful scenarios. Let’s say that the voting bills pass and they are able to forestall the most egregious assaults on voting rights. A substantial infrastructure bill passes and enough projects get off the ground to convince most people that their lot is improving. Anti-trust measures begin to reign in the ruthless power of corporations enabling  better working conditions and creating space for small businesses to thrive. If enough of these impacts are felt quickly enough, the Republicans, whose support is already faltering, may fail to gain control of even one of the chambers of Congress, which would allow the policies of the Biden administration to take root. That could lead to years of greenish prosperity and a long reign for the Democratic party while the Republican party goes through the process of recovering its sanity.

This scenario is, unfortunately, as fragile as it is hopeful. Every one of the elements would have to fall into place in order for it to become true. Not only that, but it does not take into account any of the possible external shocks that could throw things out of whack. How long before the extended drought in the west and the climatic disruptions of the Midwest cause food shortages and price increases? What if, as is not unlikely, pandemic conditions persist unrelentingly for years? The arsenal of weapons in the hands of Americans is a tinderbox on the verge of exploding into civil war. Cyber warriors have already demonstrated the capacity to wreak havoc.

On the one hand I feel that I must give all my effort to enable the hopeful scenario to prevail. On the other hand, I feel that I need to have a Plan B. Or is the need to have a plan B a matter of indulging, as Thomas Chatterton Williams recently put it, “…a certain intellectual and moral prestige in wallowing in our dissatisfaction…”.

There will always be a tension between the need to act and the need to strategize. What is constant is that we will always need each other; for the resistance, for mutual aid, for the never-ending work of human evolution.

So, regardless of the outcome of this particular struggle, I’m grateful to the leaders of our various organizations who do the hard work of keeping us focused, energized, and most of all, together.

Categories
Uncategorized

Sen. Manchin Proposes Changes to S1

The opinions expressed in this post are strictly those of the author and do not reflect opinions or positions held by Indivisible Northampton.


From Slate, JUNE 16, 2021 4:04 PM: “Sen. Joe Manchin, who thus far has opposed Democrats’ big election reform bill, has finally made his counteroffer. On Wednesday, the West Virginian proposed a series of changes to the For the People Act that could win his vote.” The author, Richard L. Hasen, goes on to say that “Democrats should grab the deal, even though it is not perfect, is still unlikely to pass, and doesn’t yet address the greatest threat in upcoming elections: the danger of election subversion.”

I haven’t thought through whether I agree that “Democrats should grab the deal.” I do know this development will impact our actions to pass S1. Below are some details from Sen. Manchin’s proposal. If you care about the For the People Act, I suggest you click the link and read the entire article (it’s only 2 pages long):

DETAILS EXCERPTED FROM THE FULL ARTICLE:

“[Sen. Manchin’s proposal] includes a number of the most important voting rights and campaign finance priorities of the original bill, including a requirement of 15 days of early voting in federal elections, automatic voter registration, limits on partisan gerrymandering, and improved campaign finance disclosure. He’s also on board with extending campaign finance provisions to communications on the internet and to currently non-disclosing “dark money” groups, prohibiting false information about when, where, and how people vote, and an updated preclearance process….

Yes, Democrats should jump at the opportunity to pass such a bill, but it is also fair to acknowledge it is far from perfect. Many of the darlings in the For the People Act are not on Manchin’s list, such as felon re-enfranchisement, public financing of congressional elections, restructuring the often-deadlocked Federal Election Commission, and limiting state voter purges. Not only would the Manchin proposal continue to allow states to engage in voter purges, it also will require some form of voter identification for voting in federal elections, though in a more relaxed form than some of the strict rules some states have enacted. It also would weaken some of the standards for restoring preclearance under the John Lewis bill, making it harder to get a jurisdiction covered by the requirement and easier for a jurisdiction to get out from under its coverage….

Many of the items on the Democratic wish list not here are much less urgent than what is being offered and can be pursued another time….Although Manchin opposes eliminating the filibuster, as the Intercept reported on Wednesday, he recently told the “No Labels” group in a call that he might support filibuster reform, perhaps even lowering the threshold from 60 votes to a lower number of senators….

Ultimately, the biggest problem with the Manchin counteroffer is its failure to address the danger of election subversion—that Republicans are reworking state election laws to make it easier for partisan officials to miscount votes to alter election outcomes. A key provision of the For the People Act that works against election subversion is a requirement for all states to use paper ballots in all elections. Did Manchin leave that off the list because he was just listing highlights or because he opposes the provision? Or is it because West Virginia is one of the few states experimenting with internet voting?

They say, though, not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. And Joe Manchin’s counteroffer is pretty, pretty good. At least it’s a start.”

Categories
Uncategorized

Telling the Truth About Disinformation

By Christina Maxwell

The opinions expressed in this post are strictly those of the author and do not reflect opinions or positions held by Indivisible Northampton.

Disinformation has been a problem in our society and our politics for a long time, but was put under a spotlight on January 6, 2021, when right-wing radicals stormed the U.S. Capitol. They acted on disinformation about the election that had been cynically spread by Trump and his minions, FoxNews, and many others. While misinformation (the spreading of incorrect information accidentally) is problematic, disinformation (the spreading of falsehoods with malicious intent) is downright dangerous.

The advent of social media was a game-changer in the spread of disinformation. Algorithms and artificial intelligence, combined with human nature, drive users further and further to the extremes. A 2018 study found that fake news spreads six times faster than truth; its emotional and unexpected nature tends to grab our attention and compels us to pass it along.

With disinformation threatening the very foundations of our democracy, something must be done. But what? There are many avenues for combatting this scourge, including monitoring social media, spreading truthful information with Indivisible’s Truth Brigade, and urging cable companies to jettison FoxNews. But in many cases the problem is systemic, requiring the kind of large-scale response that can only come through government policy. 

Legislators seem to understand they have a role to play in managing this problem. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce recently held a hearing on the topic. There are also multiple legislative vehicles, including S.299, the SAFE TECH Act, and HR.337, the Foreign Agent Disclaimer Enhancement Act. The former would reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 to address areas in which the law has been abused by platforms to evade responsibility for real-world harms they have directly enabled. The latter would address foreign disinformation by requiring disclaimers on foreign-funded political content on U.S. social media.

Members of Indivisible Northampton’s Disinformation Team, along with members of Valley Action, recently met with Congressman McGovern’s staff to discuss this issue and we look forward to continuing these conversations. We welcome collaboration with other Indivisible chapters; if your group is interested in coordinating with us, please email christinamaxwell@gmail.com