Monday, March 22, 2010

The death of hope...

I wish I could join in with all my co-workers and acquaintances that were celebrating yesterday’s vote on the health insurance industry bailout bill. Better yet, I wish I really could make them understand why I am instead very depressed. They all repeat the same mantras – “This is the first step”, “we can improve on this in the future”, “we are moving in the right direction”. What they don’t understand is, as Jon Walker argues below… “It‘s Not That the Health Care Bill Does Too Little Good, It’s That It Does Too Much Harm.” The fact is that this health care bill is about stamping our bankrupt private health insurance system with a seal of approval and ensuring that its replacement with an effective, universal, cost saving public system is off the table for the foreseeable future. This bill basically accepts as a permanent condition, what is at the root of the problem – a for profit health care system dominated by an industry whose reason to exist is to charge more for reduced care.

As I see it, there are only two possible outcomes from this. Scenario 1: The Democrats declare job done and we are stuck with this health care legislation as the only “reform” to the system we will see for at least the next decade. Think about it, the Democrats treated this fight as if it was life or death, the fight of a generation. We witnessed the absolute limit of their willingness to taken on the Republicans. Do people really think these weak kneed corporate lackey Democrats are going to mount an even bigger fight in the near future to improve this bill? They will be all too happy to declare victory and move back into their comfort spot of do nothing mode. That is the best case scenario. Scenario 2: As people become increasingly feed up with Democrats inability or unwillingness to deliver on almost anything – jobs, the economy, immigration, the environment, war policy, etc. – we will see a serious right wing resurgence and major Republican gains at the polls. As a result, the Republicans, bolstered by a public feed up with health care “reform” that does little to actually improve their access to health care, will chip away at these so called “reforms.” In the end, the whole movement for health care reform will be setback more than a decade. In any case, I just can’t see this weekend’s vote as anything more than the death of hope for any real health care reform (at least at the national level) for the next decade.

It really depresses me at a personal level, because for about a decade now, I have believed that a national health care program was the only major social advance I really thought achievable in my life time. As I get older, my hope that the radical transformation this nation and planet desperately needs will happen before I depart this planet is rapidly fading. But I had still believed up until this year, that a national universal non-profit health care system was possible. If every other advanced capitalist nation had been able to achieve this, wasn’t it reasonable to believe that United States could reach this minimum level of civilization. Apparently not.

The article below, sent to me by a friend late last week, sums up much of my thoughts on this issue…

It's Not That the Health Care Bill Does Too Little Good, It's That It Does Too Much Harm

By Jon Walker

March 17, 2010

The greatest problem with the Senate health care bill is not that it does "too little" to help people. The problem is that the bill does too many terrible things to help all the bad actors.

The Senate bill further entrenches the private health insurance system. It continues the terrible pattern of privatizing our social safety net in such a way that business skims 20% off the top. It makes sure the big, life saving medications of the future remain incredibly expensive, so as to enrich the drug industry. It takes a giant step towards eroding women's reproductive rights. It wastes hundreds of millions to fortify the same, broken health care system that is crushing our economy.

The worst part is I don't see anything in this bill that might serve as a path to real reform. There is no public option or Medicare buy-in. There is no proper state single payer waiver. There is no mechanism to move to an all-payer system and/or a clear path to force for-profit companies out of the health insurance market.

You can read the rest here…‘s-not-that-the-health-care-bill-does-too-little-good-it’s-that-it-does-too-much-harm/

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