The Spark

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

Editorial:
Health Care Bonanza for Big Business

Sep 14, 2009

This summer, President Obama said almost nothing as the Republicans attacked health care reform with their claims that it will take away “freedom” and “choice.”

We have no “choice” right now!

Many of us can’t “choose” to have medical care because the insurance companies won’t accept us, because we have a pre-existing condition. We can’t “choose” to have medical care because the insurance and drug costs are so outrageous. We can’t “choose” to continue medical care because the bosses cut it out, or throw us out of work. When we have insurance, we have to go to the doctors or the hospitals that the company decides on, and can only have procedures that the company okays.

That’s no choice. That’s medicine organized by the big monopolies for the purpose of making a profit. Whatever medical care we get is purely incidental.

So, what did Obama say about health care reform in his big speech last week? He made a big show of pretending to fight against the Republicans who had been gaining on him in the polls. He even called some of their propaganda “lies.”

But at the same time, Obama embraced some of the Republican’s most horrendous and reactionary proposals, especially the vicious attacks against undocumented immigrants and against abortion rights for poorer women who can’t afford an abortion on their own. Obama, just like the Republicans, attacked those who are often the most vulnerable. He too tried to divide working people against each other, while diverting people’s anger away from the big business interests responsible for our intolerable situation.

Of course, the Democrats’ and Republicans’ fight is just a political side show. Behind the scenes both parties are taking care of business – for big business. Obama made this clear in his speech, when he defended the very same health care monopolies responsible for all the horrors he mentioned. He even said that he wanted to “keep what’s worth keeping” of the medical care system. What’s he talking about?

Reforming health care means starting from scratch – getting rid of the profit system, organizing health care according to the needs of the population and according to what medical science has discovered, particularly for the best kinds of treatments. That would save money – and extend medical coverage to everyone. The proof is that all those countries that have a government-run system pay less money per capita, have better overall results in health, and have better and faster access for everyone. Only the very wealthy, who already have everything they need, would not benefit from such a system.

But this “reform” merely keeps the wealth for the wealthy. Big insurance companies, drug companies and hospital associations are behind this reform. A day after Obama’s speech, Karen M. Ignagni, the chief executive of America’s Health Insurance Plans, the insurance industry trade group, said it best: “The industry has been the leader in creating the proposals everyone is about to endorse.”

The politicians want to force tens of millions of people to buy health insurance, or else face a government fine. That’s a bonanza for big business.

Health care coverage was extended only once in this country’s history. In 1965, the massive mobilization of black people forced the government to extend health care, Medicare and Medicaid, to the elderly and poor. To get real health care reform today, working people will have to mobilize once again.