Oppose the Democrats’ healthcare reform swindle---
For Universal Healthcare!
The Democrat-controlled Congress continues to work out a healthcare reform package. But Obama and the Democratic leadership have already ruled a single-payer plan “off the table” even though the majority of the people want it. Instead, at various “roundtables” Obama and Co. have been getting input from the representatives of the health insurance parasites, Big Pharma and others in the healthcare industry whose drive for profits have fueled the healthcare crisis for the masses. In fact, if the Democrats and Republicans (to whom the Democrats are already making “concessions”!) get their way, the heartless medicine-for-profit system that we now have will continue. This calls for stepping up the movement for a single-payer plan and truly universal healthcare.
Obama’s failed model: the Massachusetts Universal Healthcare Plan
Obama and other leading Democrats have touted the Massachusetts Plan as a success, and said that they would like to achieve a similar law for the nation. But less than two years after its implementation this law has proven to be a miserable failure:
1) Although supposedly “universal”*, the Massachusetts law has left about 200,000 citizens without coverage, with the number rising because of increasing unemployment. (Since it’s an employer based plan this was inevitable.)
2) The private insurance plans available for middle income residents are extremely expensive, i.e., the cheapest for a 56-year-old now costs $4,872 annually in premiums. But if the policy holder actually becomes sick s/he must pay an additional $2,000 deductible before the insurance kicks in. And thereafter s/he pays 20% co-insurance up to a maximum of $3,000 annually. Hence, middle income people remain in the position of being squeezed between deductibles and co-pays, or remaining untreated when they are sick or injured.
3) Even though the private insurance premiums for low-income residents are subsidized, many low-income patients who previously received completely free care under the state’s old free care program now face co-payments, premiums and deductibles that prevent them from getting needed care.
4) With the new economic crisis the Massachusetts state government has resorted to budget cuts for safety-net institutions and free care, which disproportionately eliminates the chances of poor residents getting any care at all.
5) The plan has done nothing to control skyrocketing healthcare costs.
The one outstanding “success” of the Massachusetts Plan has been that it has extended the private insurance market, i.e., fattened the profits of the insurance companies. But this was achieved by forcing everyone to buy insurance or pay a penalty tax, something that the Democrats at the federal level are presently not talking about very much.
The “public option” swindle
While Obama and the leading Democrats have banished talk of a single-payer plan for universal healthcare, they’re promoting a so called “public option,” i.e., government-provided insurance that people can buy instead of buying private insurance. Moreover, various union officials, Health Care for America Now (HCAN) and other healthcare advocates are painting this measure in the rosiest of colors, while comments about it from its chief Senate advocates reveal that it’s a fraudulent solution to the healthcare crisis.
For example, Sen. Charles Schumer is quoted in the New York Times (5/11/2009) as saying that:
"The public plan must be self-sustaining. It should pay claims with money raised from premiums and co-payments. It should not receive tax revenue or appropriations from the government.
The government should not compel doctors and hospitals to participate in a public plan just because they participate in Medicare.
The public plan should pay doctors and hospitals more than what Medicare pays. Medicare rates, set by law and regulation, are often lower than what private insurers pay.”
But having no subsidies and being run like a private insurance company means that this government-offered insurance would be expensive, more so if it has to pay more than what Medicare pays, and even more so because people with long-term illnesses, older people and other “high risk” people who are denied insurance by the private insurers would have to buy the “public option” insurance if they bought any insurance at all. In fact, numerous states already offer insurance, and it’s indeed very expensive. Further, not compelling providers to participate in the government plan means denial of service to policy-holders, and reinforcement of the tiered levels of medicine that currently exist. Finally, Schumer rules out using this new plan to pressure healthcare providers into lowering costs when he says it must pay the more than what Medicare pays.
The details of the “public option” are still being hashed out, but whatever it finally looks like, it will not be a step toward universal healthcare simply because it’s employer-based. Moreover, for those who can afford it, it will not necessarily mean that they have access to needed care, i.e., they may not be able to make additional co-pays, or needed care may not be covered by the insurance. In fact, many “public option” proponents favorably liken it to buying Medicare, but leave out that there are many things that Medicare does not cover. Hence, they’re admitting that like private insurance, “public option” insurance would commit murder by denying needed treatments or medications.
What is to be done?
In speaking to the Illinois AFL-CIO on June 30, 2003 Barack Obama said that “I happen to be a proponent of a single payer universal health care program,” and added that “…first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate, and we have to take back the House.”
Well, the Democrats now have the White House and easy majorities in the Senate and House, and the demand for a single payer universal health care program is more popular among the masses than ever before. Yet they defy the will of the majority of the people in favor of the insurance companies, medical providers, drug companies, and others who profit from human suffering. Some Democrats use the flimsy excuse that the Republicans will filibuster a bill for single-payer universal system, but they “forget” that filibusters have often been overcome in Congress (and they wouldn’t dream of calling the masses of people into the streets against obstruction of the popular will.)
Thus, if a universal healthcare system is to be won, the independent political action of the masses is needed. This has recently been taking the form of single-payer activists confronting and denouncing Democratic Party politicians all over the country, disruption of Senator Baucus’ hearings, and protests. But more is needed, and it's going to require a big fight. For example, while on May 30 there will be a large Seattle march under the slogan “Health Care for All in 2009,” the SEIU (for one) is advertising it as “answering President Obama’s call to be part of the movement to enact health care for all in 2009”…despite Obama’s opposition to enacting healthcare for all! Further, the speakers platform is going to be dominated by Democratic Party politicians and others who want to marginalize and silence the movement for universal healthcare. They should not be allowed to get away with this. Healthcare is a right.
Seattle Communist Study Group, May 29, 2009
* Further, to be truly universal the Massachusetts plan and a national plan would also have to include undocumented immigrants---something that the Democrats oppose.
For more on the Massachusetts plan seewww.communistvoice.org (under “past articles, healthcare is a right!”) or visit our literature table.
For an assessment of what has since happened under the Massachusetts Plan, see Massachusetts’ Plan: A Failed Model for Health Care Reform by Harvard Medical School Drs. Rachel Nardin, David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler at http://www.pnhp.org/mass_report/mass_report_Final.pdf.
The right-wing politicians curse universal healthcare as “socialism!” while much of the left praises it as socialism. But we think that they’re both wrong: it is not socialism. For more on this again see www.communistvoice.org (under “past articles, healthcare is a right!”) or visit our literature table.
[log in to unmask]" type="cite">The article by Amy Goodman at
presents how thoroughly bought-out are our legislators re health care reform.
I am posting the reference because i believe that policies regarding making quality accessible health care available to ordinary persons is an appropriate concern of Science for the People.