Tuesday, April 18, 2017

US Health Care Debate. Terrorism at home.

One source of funds for universal health care
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

I see that an Oklahoma woman has been sentenced to life for dressing up as a witch* in order to “terrorize” her 7-year old daughter. This is indeed a shockingly violent act.  It’s harmful on an individual basis for sure. But nowhere near the violence and terror that he politicians inflict on people through their policies.

I am not fan of Obama’s Affordable Care Act in the sense that it is no solution to the pathetic US health care system. But it does provide some desperate relief to some of the most needy. Some 21 million people would lose health care if it was eliminated according to most reports. Apart from increased suffering for millions of people, relieved only through death for others, this would put massive strain on the public health care system and increase the burden on the taxpayer anyway.

This present health care system and the back and forth about what will happen, is a shocking case of mass terrorism and violence. It is also a form of torture.

The Predator in Chief, Trump, tried to replace the ACA and failed. One of the major reasons was that good Christian Zionist group in Congress that loves the unborn,  didn’t approve of the clause denying insurers the right to refuse coverage to people that were sick (the capitalist media calls it “existing conditions”, as it sounds a bit more humane)

Then last week Trump threatened to stop funding the ACA’s “cost-sharing reduction subsidies” that help people in the plan pay for the deductibles for example. This is a form of terrorism; it is mass torture. We are not talking about people losing access to the ping pong table at the gym here. These are life and death issues. Trump has also called for eliminating Meals on Wheels.  The greatest enemy of the US working class is the US 1%, not Korea, not Iran, not Assad or Isis.

This uncertainty is having an affect, “A White House spokesperson said that the ACA, the law also known as Obamacare, ‘is already collapsing on its own....President Trump and his administration are committed to working with Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare with a law that creates a better health-care system for all Americans.’”, the Wall Street Journal reports. And the collapse will be a long, winding, tortuous road if Trump and the gang have their way.

It is the confusion the present administration is causing that is accelerating the ACA’s collapse, and it is designed to leave only one alternative on the table, the total  free market plan. The messages from Washington are “swerving day by day...we can’t change our pricing model day by day.”, says the CEO of Minuteman Health Care.

“People are terribly confused,” says another healthcare CEO whose company participates in the ACA plans in nine states. “There’s a lot of posturing....We need some certainty, and we can’t just have people making pronouncements.” Without more clarity about key issues, “you get to the point where you say, ‘if we don’t have the information, we can’t go forward.’” "Clarity"? The Russians  recently announced publicly that they need clarity from the Trump Administration with regards to its policy in Syria. Is it possible Putin and the US health insurers are in cahoots?

“When there’s uncertainty, you have to price for the uncertainty,” another CEO tells the WSJ

This is the plan to wreck what is really a very minor government intervention to ensure some citizens who insurance companies (profit driven entities) refuse to cover. In the process, the confused strategy form Washington will not only mean more tragic suffering, anxiety and in some cases death, it will force the health companies to increase prices or pull out altogether. “Humana Inc. has said it would pull out of the ACA exchanges next year, and two insurers have said they would exit Iowa’s health-law marketplace. "Anthem Inc. and Cigna Corp. have said they are considering pulling back.”, the Journal reports. Isn't this referred to as sabotage?

One survey found that some insurers are considering increases of 20% and many between 20% and 20% while the Congressional Budget Office estimates costs will rise between 15% and 20%.

As US imperialism drops a $16 million bomb on a cave in Afghanistan a war it’s already lost along with the war in Iraq, it wages a ruthless terrorist campaign against it’s own people. A market driven US health care system is one of the most devastating wars US capitalism wages domestically. Housing, education, wages, jobs and workplace protection are other assaults on American workers and the middle class as is the incarceration rate. All these crises of course, disproportionally affect people of color.

And the natural world, the beautiful land that nurtures us, it is being savaged by capitalism through market based agri-business and uncontrolled industrial production home building.

There are many forms of violence and torture is one. The uncertainty, the never ending fear of being homeless, without a roof over ones head, without access to medical care or the basic necessities of life, that is torture. Trumps threats are torture, they are meant to intimidate and keep people in a constant state of fear. That is the purpose of every US diplomat, politician or general in visiting the de-militarized zone that separates North and South Korea. It’s to intimidate and sow terror in to people, to remind North Koreans of the devastation wreaked on their land buildings and population by US bombers that faced no opposition form enemy fire. It’s also to keep out minds on foreign enemies on off domestic ones.

Given the criminal absence of the heads of organized labor on all the major issues of the day, the only vies of society we hear of are those from the think tanks of the capitalist class and their politicians and representatives in academia.

Jerry Brown, the one time lefty politician now the governor of California, said that universal health care is basically unaffordable, "Where do you get the extra money? This is the whole question," he told the LA Times.  The state he is governor of has 111 billionaires San Francisco has 20 billionaires according to Forbes. We need a federally funded universal health care system. Good treatment should be guaranteed on demand. There is plenty of money in society, it’s simply a matter of allocation. Brown, like Sanders, warren, any of them, is a capitalist politician in one, if not the world’s dominant bourgeois party. From his point of view the money is not there and he is not going to take it from where it is.

Brown is being honest in way. Like the labor leaders, left academia and liberal left critics of all things capitalism like Chris Hedges, or Warren and Sanders types, they see no alternative to capitalism. Most of all they do not see the working class as a force for change or as a force at all. Much of the revolutionary left, despite their knowledge of revolutionary history and having read all the right reading material, are isolated from the working class have not been able to build a revolutionary current within the working class, they too don’t really believe in their gut, that the working class is the revolutionary class, that it will struggle to change society and that the working class can govern. When they meet a worker looking for a revolutionary way forward they take them out of the working class rather than help sink deeper roots in to the class, combine the struggle for reforms with the struggle for socialism.  They have no faith in the working class.

A young student of color once said to me that the socialist left doesn’t appeal to workers of color. I agreed with her. But they don’t appeal to white workers either.

In the present era, the struggle for healthcare must burst the restraints of electoral politics and be fought in the streets. It is important to fight for reforms, and a direct action mass movement must do that, but only if one realizes that the struggle for reforms is part of the learning process of ending capitalism and building a democratic socialist society.

* Read Caliban and the Witch by Silvia Federici if you want to understand the true meaning of this word.

No comments: