Health care reform—how can workers get it?

Washington D.C. FIST

The health care crisis facing workers in the U.S. is severe. Fifty million people lack health insurance and another 25 million are underinsured.

The federal government estimates that the country will spend $2.5 trillion on health care this year. That amounts to an average of $8,160 per person for a system that neglects to provide adequate care for one in four people. The right wing is digging in against even incremental reform with their opposition to pharmaceutical price controls and public plans that compete with private insurers.

Two of the country’s largest labor unions, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Service Employees International Union, recently announced their withdrawal from a major national coalition for health care reform. The coalition, known as the Healthcare Reform Dialogue, includes an eclectic mix of major drug and insurance companies, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, labor organizations and advocacy groups for patients, consumers and health care professionals.

The group was tasked with finding common ground on major changes to the health care system. The coalition is headed by the president of the American Hospital Association—an anti-labor industry group representing private hospitals and providers. AFSCME and SEIU withdrew after failing to gain support for modest proposals, such as requiring employers to contribute to the cost of coverage for workers.

Labor’s exit from this coalition shows that collaborating with the big pharmaceutical and insurance corporations responsible for the current crisis in health care is a dead end. Industry representatives are instinctively opposed to even moderate reforms because their pursuit of corporate profits demands the rationing of care based on a patient’s ability to pay. Labor must gear up for a serious fight if the interests of workers are to be represented in this most recent battle for health care reform.

President Barack Obama has announced Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as his pick for secretary of Health and Human Services. Obama’s announcement comes as his administration begins to roll out his plan for health care reform. The selection of Sebelius has been widely praised by the corporate media, while at the same time many activists have started to question her commitment to universal health care. Her appointment was welcomed by the insurance industry and Republicans who see her as a moderate pro-business Democrat capable of tamping down demand for genuine reform.

What’s in health care plan

The administration’s proposed health care plan is an endeavor to expand health insurance by expanding government programs while reining in costs. It represents an incremental approach that postpones universal coverage to an uncertain future date.

The plan prohibits private insurers from denying anyone coverage, regardless of medical history, and provides subsidies to help low-income workers purchase health insurance. The proposal would also allow people to buy into a new public insurance program instead of purchasing private coverage.

However, workers need a plan that provides quality care to everyone who needs it, regardless of their ability to pay—especially as more and more jobs are disappearing.

Physicians for a National Health Plan estimates that of the 50 million uninsured in the U.S., at least 15 million will go uncovered if Congress passes this version of health care reform. The fundamental flaw with the plan is that it seeks to solve the health care crisis by selling insurance.

A bill already exists in Congress to establish a single-payer system of health insurance. The legislation is popularly known as “Medicare for All” (H.R. 676). Passage of this progressive legislation is not a cure-all for the capitalist health care system, which is based on the medical industry profiting off illness, but it would represent a big victory for workers.

Every person living in or visiting the U.S. would be eligible for coverage under H.R. 676. The proposed program covers primary care, emergency care, prescription drugs, mental health services and long-term care. Dental and eye care, inpatient and outpatient care, and durable medical equipment are also covered. The patient is not charged any co-pays or deductibles, and private insurers are prohibited from selling coverage that duplicates the benefits covered by the act.

The April 3-4 national march on Wall Street provides an opportunity for labor to start engaging workers to build a broad fightback program. The march will demand that the government “bail out the people, not the banks” on the 41st anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. The people certainly need health care more than the banks need another government handout.



  1. Finally, the time has arrived to fix Americas Healthcare crisis, and Americas healthcare knightmare. Hundreds of thousands of you are killed needlessly every year by your healthcare delivery system in a rush to profit. And because of a rush to profit Hundreds of thousands more of you are needlessly dying from treatable illness that people in other developed and civilized countries don’t DIE! from. Rich, middle class, and poor alike. Insured, and uninsured. Men, women, children, and babies.

    Additionally, thousands more of you are driven into financial ruin, and bankruptcy just because you, or one of your loved ones got sick or injured. And all of this is happening at a time when America spends twice as much of it’s GDP (Gross Domestic Productivity) on health care than any other country in the developed world. Individual Americans spend about ten times as much on health care as any other people in the developed world. This is a CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY. AND IT MUST END!

    But before we can truly fix this healthcare crisis and disgrace, everyone needs to clearly understand what the problem is. And everyone needs to clearly understand the real enormity of the problem. The problem is that HEALTHCARE AND MEDICAL DELIVERY IN AMERICA IS SEVERELY CORRUPTED AND COMPROMISED BY GREED! AND THE PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MOTIVE. And it is corrupted, and compromised IN EVERY ASPECT, AND EVERY PLACE OF HEALTHCARE AND MEDICAL DELIVERY. Unfortunately for all Americans, compromised healthcare ALWAYS results in needless suffering, injury, disability, and or death. Which is exactly what is happening now in America in shocking numbers.

    Health care is NOT! a private for profit business. Healthcare is an essential public service. Like police, and fire. And healthcare is also a human right! PRIVATE FOR PROFIT HEALTHCARE IS AN OXYMORON, AND AN IMMORAL AND UNETHICAL PERVERSION OF HEALTHCARE AND HUMAN RIGHTS.

    So how do we fix this healthcare disgrace? I believe the fix for Americas healthcare disaster is essentially the same thing that every other developed country in the World has essentially done. “NOT FOR PROFIT, TAX PAYER SUPPORTED, SINGLE PAYER, AUTOMATIC, FREE UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE FOR ALL. Essentially HR676 (enhanced, and expanded medicare for all). Just like every other CIVILIZED! country in the developed World has. There is no other way to truly fix and reform our current disastrous healthcare delivery system.

    All Universal health care systems work best when everyone participates. But I know that the healthcare lobby, and some politicians will try and undermine “Not For Profit, Tax payer supported, Single payer, Automatic, Free Universal Healthcare for all” by falsely claiming that it will limit your choice, and require you to participate.

    So, I propose that everyone be included in the national plan unless they choose to opt out. If you opt out and need medical care the national plan will insure your provider that they will be reimbursed under the rules for members in the national plan. But those who opted out, and their insurer will be responsible for the FULL! cost to the national plan for providing your care if you or your private insurer fails to reimburse the provider or the national plan in a timely manor to at least the standards of the national plan.

    Including reporting you to credit agencies, withholding of taxes, leans, and garnishment of wages for unpaid medical bills. Just like you have now under private for profit healthcare, and private for profit health insurance.

    Further, people who opted out will be required to provide proof of financial responsibility for future illness or be required to participate in the national plan. And everyone with children will be required to participate in the national plan. Or provide proof of insurance coverage on each child to the standards of the national plan. It will be against the law to report anyone in the national plan to a credit agency for unpaid medical bills.

    Frankly, only a dope would want to opt out of the national plan and opt to keep our current disastrous private for profit medical, and insurance plans. But they will be free to choose. The most important thing is that the vast majority of Americans that want the protection, benefits, and higher quality of a universal national plan have that choice.

    You see, one of the most important aspects of a universal healthcare system is easy access, and patient protection. This is accomplished by having a single payer without a conflict of interest in patient care. And by having a payer who has the power to enforce minimum standards of excellence in healthcare delivery for everyone in the plan. This is much of what Medicare does now for senors. “Aeger Primo” (The patient first). Unfortunately in our healthcare system the patient comes last. We are just a peace of meat to them. Cash cows to be slaughtered for profit.

    So this is IT! my fellow Americans, My fellow human beings, My fellow World Citizens. And my fellow Cyber Warriors. 🙂 The time has come. D day. H hour. HEALTHCARE REFORM THIS YEAR! Let no one stand in our way. Contact your representative and tell them you want “Not For Profit, Tax Payer Supported, Single Payer, Automatic, Free Universal healthcare for all. And tell them you want that choice now. Tell them you want President Obama’s budget passed without delay. President Obama’s budget is brilliant. And exactly what is needed now.

    President Obama, and his allies will need all the support you can give them. The healthcare lobby will try to take out his people if they can, like they did with Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer. And they will try to neutralize President Obama’s popularity, and political power. Or they will try to take him down someway. Don’t stand for it. If they attack him. Go after them ten times harder and remove them from office. We had an election. And you the people chose President Obama’s leadership, and change agenda. Let no one in government disrespect the will of the American people and remain in office.

    To President Obama, his Cabinet, the Congress of the United States, and the Supreme Court. I have noticed for some time a disturbing tendency for key members of your bodies to come down with illness, or medical problems at critical legislative times. This may just be coincidence. But I can tell you that there are a million subtle ways to medically injure someone just by doing nothing when something needs to be done. Or by doing things to someone when nothing needs to be done except to give them reassurance. I know for a fact that there are those that would have no qualms about hurting any of you to preserve our current disgraceful medical status quo.

    So, I recommend as a matter of national security that you enlist the help of a friendly power to regularly review, and oversee the medical care you receive from your local regular healthcare providers. Briton, France and many other countries have excellent medical providers. As well as Canada. Briton, and Canada may be less of a language barrier for Americans.

    Let’s get this healthcare reform done now my fellow Americans. This year. Take no prisoners.

    God Bless All Of You

    Jack Smith — Working Class 🙂

  2. […] Health care reform—how can workers get it? « Fight Imperialism … […]

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