A Matter of Life and Death

While House Majority Whip Steve Scalise fights for his life in a DC hospital ICU, you can bet that he and his family won’t be bankrupted by his many surgeries, treatments and care; members of the United States Congress have some of the best health care coverage in the world. Strange then, that our own beloved Senator Pat Toomey would state in his recent televised town hall meeting that because Obamacare is still the law, he is “stuck” with health care that he actually “hate[s].”

As if that’s what Obamacare was all about: “leveling” health care coverage; driving everyone’s care down to the lowest common denominator. We’re supposed to believe that poor Pat Toomey and the heartless, craven Republican cabal that have drafted in secret the Affordable Health Care Act’s replacement are stuck with ghetto health insurance!

You’ll recall that Scalise and some capitol area police officers were wounded on June 14th when James Hodgkinson, 66 years old and unemployed, opened fire on house Republicans during baseball practice for a charity game. Needless to say, Hodgkinson, later identified as a Sanders supporter and someone who was staunchly anti-Trump, was against Republican officeholders in general. Could the health care issue have been one of the reasons for his rage?

All the breezy, almost casual language tossed around by Republicans – and Democrats, too – about the number of people who will be affected by the GOP plan, distances us from the fact that access to quality health care is a matter of life and death. And forgotten in the bickering is the fact that even after Obamacare, tens of millions Americans remained uninsured and underinsured. How dare those who would increase that figure by even one person consider themselves civilized?

In his July 5th town hall meeting, Sen. Toomey said his policy priorities were “stronger economic growth” and “enhanced security.” When it comes to health care, Toomey’s strategy is to “stabilize the insurance market” first – and we know the kind of people who control the insurance industry and what “stability” means to them – and then worry about people’s needs. In his view, the federal government has little or no role to play in expanding guaranteed coverage to the poor, nor can it afford to: our enhanced-security state is being starved of funding!

The future battle over health care

People like Toomey can go on and on with their arguments which are quite frankly straight-up bullshit since they have little to do with the human condition and everything to do with human greed. The ruling political party in our nation even turns an issue like health care into a scheme for transferring wealth upward. There is now – and has been for a long time – a bill before Congress that would guarantee quality health coverage for all Americans. H.R. 676, the Expanded & Improved Medicare for All Act, would move the US into the late 20th century by creating a single-payer system of universal coverage.

Some people rejoice at the fact 113 members of the House of Representatives – more than half the Democratic delegation – are now cosponsors of H.R. 676. But most of these are converts, the very same mealy-mouthed mo-fo’s who found every “reasonable” excuse in the world to pooh-pooh single-payer in favor of Obama and Nancy Pelosi’s market-based plan a few years ago. Now that there’s no stopping the GOP from passing a backwards plan if they ever actually get their ducks in order, it’s easy to be for universal coverage. But when it’s time to replace the GOP plan (and that time will come in as little as four years) and powerful, “reasonable” (i.e., moneyed) interests speak up, how many of the 113 will remain for single-payer?

The battle-lines are drawn and we should never let those who say they support H.R. 676 now, forget that in 2021.

— Jim Collins

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Single-Payer Health Care Now!

Wake up, America, and wipe the sleep from your eyes.  You’re not dreaming but a nightmare is in the making.

It’s 17 years into the twenty-first century and our ruling – er, governing— Republican Party thinks there are currently just too many people with health insurance in this country.  While people living in all the other advanced nations of the world have the security of universal coverage and access to health care, the Republicans are divided only on just how many people should go without.

As one commentator put it, “Under the GOP’s bill, the more help you need, the less you get.”  They weren’t quite able to figure it out this time but rest assured that they’ll continue working until they get it “right.”  No matter the final outcome of the GOP plan, the bottom line is that more people will lose coverage – 10 million, 24 million, who knows? – and the cost of health care will continue to rise.

And the newly uninsured will be added to the current staggering figure of 25 million Americans who are without health care, even under the so-called Affordable Care Act.  Somehow, both Republicans and Democrats are able to sleep while knowing all this.

It’s time to end this madness.  It’s time to demand universal single-payer health care now!

Class war by other means

Obamacare and other recent attempts to reform the health care system have all fallen victim to the same forces: the powerful health insurance and pharmaceutical company lobbies and the ideological opposition of Republicans, yes, but of most Democrats too.  It’s almost a religious duty for mainstream politicians, liberal or conservative, to oppose the socialization of health care.  Health care is big business and, as such, it is run as part and parcel of the class war on working people, a war that transfers wealth and reserves the benefits of society for the well-to-do.

Health insurance companies are nothing more than huge bureaucratic middle men who collect fees and allocate a crucial service according to metrics that have nothing to do with true human need.  They keep the price of health care artificially high while “earning” huge profits for executives and shareholders.  And while pharmaceutical companies provide useful benefits, the experience of Canada and other advanced countries shows that they can provide those benefits at lower prices.

While the Republicans are licking their wounds and regrouping, we should not let the Democrats breathe a sigh of relief or celebrate.  If they really want to live up to the promise of Obamacare, let them support single-payer health care.  Rep. John Conyers (Mich.) has been introducing into Congress the National Health Care Act, or the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, (H.R. 676) since 2003.  Bernie Sanders has just promised to introduce similar legislation in the Senate.

It’s time to demand that elected officials put up or shut up about health care.  We know that politics is war by other means; the health care aspect of the class war is literally killing people and that’s got to stop.

— James Collins