The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Profit’s Death Grip on Health Care

Aug 17, 2009

When Democrats tried to sell the latest version of health care reform at dozens of town hall meetings across the country, they ran into a buzz saw of anger and distrust led by the Republican Party. In trying to claw their way back from minority status, the Republicans had attempted to confront and embarrass the Democrats and the Obama administration.

Much of what the Republicans said was pure demagogy. They said the main threat came from government rationing health care, when today people are being deprived of health care because of a lack of money. They claimed that people can pay for their own medical problems themselves, even though most ordinary working people are always in danger of losing health coverage and can less and less afford to pay all the deductibles and co-pays. They blamed increasing health care costs on immigrants and people receiving government-provided aid–resorting to the same old prejudices, blaming those who are more vulnerable and worse off. Of course, the Republicans didn’t dare put the blame for the outrageous costs where it belongs: on the rich and powerful insurance companies, pharmaceuticals and all the others who extract profits from the health care industry.

But the Republicans’ demagogic, disgusting and reactionary rhetoric still struck a nerve by appealing to popular distrust of government, not just about health care reform, but also about the enormous government bailout of the banks, increasing taxes, etc.

If the Republicans were able to get away with this, it was only because Obama and the Democrats opened the door to them. Obama spoke generally about the need for health care reform. BUT he never spelled out what he actually proposed to do. Obama pretended to hold back, waiting to see what would come out of Congress. Congress produced complete confusion, five separate bills, each over a thousand pages long.

All this was just an act. Buried in the back pages of every big newspaper were reports from behind the scenes: Obama and his chief-of-staff, Rahm Emanuel, secretly met with representatives of the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries. Quietly, behind closed doors, the White House and business executives hammered out the final language of the real bill that they are getting ready to push through Congress.

Their reform will force millions more people to buy health insurance. Insurance companies will be free to set outrageous prices for minimal coverage, leaving people open to enormous bills if they get sick or injured. You may have the “right” to buy insurance. You just won’t be able to afford it! Pharmaceuticals will keep their monopoly control over vital drugs, setting prices without any real control by the government.

Health care reform brought to you by Obama and the Democrats is a reform to benefit big business, aimed at increasing profits at the expense of ordinary people. It is the same old political game, of politicians saying one thing and doing the opposite.

Republicans want to continue the same old health care system, also benefitting big business.

The fight between the Republicans and Democrats over health care reform is a fake fight. They both lie.

Working people will never get the medical care we need by depending on either of them.

The only time medical care has been widened and made available to many more people was in the 1960s, when Medicare and Medicaid, health care coverage for retirees and the poor, were won. The massive mobilization of the black population imposed those reforms, just as it also imposed many other reforms in housing, education, unemployment and aid to children.

The system hasn’t changed since. Only by ordinary people shaking the very foundations of the power structure and threatening the rule of the capitalist elite will any meaningful gains be won.