The Spark

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

Editorial:
Every Person Could Have Decent Health Care

Nov 23, 2009

Health care “reform” got past a new obstacle, when the Democrats lined up all their votes so the U.S. Senate could begin to debate the bill. The House of Representatives had already passed its own version.

Of course, the Democrats, Obama included, present this as a victory.

Perhaps it is – for the insurance, hospital, and pharmaceutical industries, which all expect to make higher profits from it.

But it’s no victory for the population. Whatever comes out of the final bill, the population is going to get screwed. Costs will go up for almost everyone, 24 million people will remain without any insurance and 168 million will continue to have inadequate insurance.

It’s a crime. Because there’s more than enough wasted administrative costs in the current system to provide decent health care for everyone – for today’s uninsured, as well as for the rest of us, most of whom are inadequately insured.

If the current U.S. system were organized like Canada’s, 400 billion dollars in wasted administrative costs could be saved and spent on actual health care every year – much more than the 85 billion a year the Senate bill is supposed to cost (848 billion dollars over ten years).

Canada’s system is hardly perfect, but it’s much more efficient and less costly, while providing better health outcomes than the U.S. system. These facts are widely known by medical researchers, hidden only by constant propaganda coming from the insurance, hospital and pharmaceutical industries.

The Canadian system is a “single-payer” system, much like Medicare, but for the whole population. You pay a regular contribution every year into the government-funded system, proportionate to your income, much like we do into Medicare. You are covered, letting you go to the doctor you want, the hospital you want, etc. Most of the middlemen are knocked out of the system, and costs and profits of the big industries that today gouge everyone are severely restricted. Remember – drug prices are much lower in Canada than here!

People in this country widely support Medicare, and most want something like that for everyone. Thirty-nine State AFL-CIO Councils, 134 Central Labor Councils and about 400 other labor organizations have endorsed this reform, a single-payer system.

In 2007, 42% of doctors, when polled, expressed support for a single-payer system – up from only 16% five years earlier. Among general family doctors, the ones who really treat us, a large majority favor it. Many of the leading researchers in public health matters have been pushing for a “single-payer” system.

But none of them were invited to appear before Congressional hearings or to speak with the Obama administration. Worse – some of the most respected experts in the field of health care were pulled out of the room in handcuffs when they tried to be heard by the Senate Finance Committee on May 5.

The Obama administration and Congressional Democrats wanted nothing to stand in the way of the steamroller. Their health care “reform” is aimed at providing better access to profits, not better access to health care.

The Republicans certainly have played no better a game. To the extent that they criticized, hoping to tap into the distrust toward the “reform” that exists in the population, they offered no perspective, other than vile reactionary slogans attacking immigrants, women’s right to abortion and defending the system as it is.

The working class cannot expect to gain access to health care as a right through either of these two parties. Both Democrats and Republicans defend this capitalist system tooth and nail. And the capitalists never put human needs before profit. Only in periods with vast mobilizations have they even partly recognized the population’s needs.

We, every one of us, regardless of age or citizenship, should have full access to health care. Anything less is not only inhumane, it also guarantees that disease spreads, that the overall society is not only less healthy, but less efficient.

We already pay taxes and outrageous costs to private industry. That money should be used to provide health care for every person.