Published Oct 18, 2009 10:37 PM
The U.S. remains one of only two developed countries in the world today that do not provide health insurance for all their residents. More than 45,000 deaths in the U.S. each year are due to lack of health insurance. Now the insurance industry giants are doing everything in their power to prevent any genuine
The health care plan proposed by President
The plan revealed by Senate Finance Committee chair
The Baucus plan delivers what the insurance industry really wants—a captive market. Should the bill pass in its present form, those who stand to gain the most are the insurance companies and pharmaceuticals. The huge profits these companies rake in guarantee that the cost of health care in the U.S. remains by far the highest in the world.
In addition, the plan leaves millions of undocumented workers specifically excluded from whatever health care provisions are finally decided on, a racist maneuver that is harmful to everyone.
The health insurance industry has spent millions of these ill-gained dollars making sure things go their way. Congressional disclosures reveal that health care firms and their lobbyists spent at the phenomenal rate of $1.4 million a day from January to March of this year and continued to pour in more during the second quarter—all to guarantee that health care “reform” would be to their benefit.
Six U.S. senators, including leading members of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over health care reform, received more than a million dollars each from the industry. Baucus alone received more than $3 million. Sen.
Joe Wilson, the racist South Carolina representative who gained notoriety for his disruption of President Obama’s Sept. 9 speech to Congress, has pocketed hundreds of thousands in insurance and health industry contributions.
Millions more went to finance health industry public relations campaigns. The lobbying group America’s Health Insurance Plans, which represents 1,300 member companies, sent thousands of its employees to town-hall meetings on health care reform. Insurance industry contributions helped fuel the “grassroots” front groups that disrupted these meetings.
There is a lot at stake for the major insurance companies. The top five—United Health Group, WellPoint, Aetna, Humana and Cigna—raked in profits averaging more than $1.56 billion in 2008. The CEOs of these companies got salaries and benefits ranging from $3 million to $24 million in 2008. It should be clear that they will stand in the way of any reform that threatens their loot. After all, under capitalism it is profits, not providing health care, which really drive the industry.
For any real health care reform under a U.S. capitalist administration, organized labor and health care advocates have to stand up to the industry. They can’t rely on the Democratic Party, not even the “liberal” Democrats in the
A resolution supporting single-payer health care was passed at the
Rather than looking to congressional Democrats, organized labor needs to support the efforts of genuine grassroots organizations like Healthcare-NOW! and other single-payer advocacy groups that are directly challenging the health care industry as they fight for universal coverage under H.R. 676.
“Medicare for all” is an appropriate demand for this period and the right thing to fight for now, but in the long term only socialism can provide for workers’ health care needs.
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