By Russell Mokhiber for Single Payer Action
NOTE: In his recent article, Jim Hightower defends the ACA’s success by saying that private health insurers are experiencing record profits: “In fact, the profits of Aetna, Cigna, Humana, UnitedHealth, and other managed care corporations have soared under Obamacare. The biggest one, UnitedHealth, has seen the value of its shares skyrocket by a spectacular 480 percent since the ACA expansion of Medicaid.”
Sigh… I hope that I don’t have to explain why these sentences make my stomach hurt. The reason that private health insurance company stocks are soaring and CEO salaries are doubling and quadrupling is because the government is now not only forcing people to buy private insurance, but is also selling and subsidizing it. That money could have been used instead to finance a universal and comprehensive National Improved Medicare for All.
It makes me sick that we aren’t because tens of millions of people are still without coverage, tens of millions more have coverage and still can’t afford health care and tens of thousands are dying as a result.
It’s important to note what Hightower is saying because we’ve read similar arguments from other Democrats: “The ACA is working because insurers are profiting.” We must be clear in our response that this is perverse. Health care doesn’t belong in the market. It is a public necessity, not a commodity. And profiting off of health care, which means high prices and excluding people, is morally wrong. Don’t let the Democrats get away with this crap.
OK. I said it. I hope you enjoy Russell’s article below. It makes important points. – Margaret Flowers
It’s impossible to promote single payer and defend Obamacare at the same time.
It’s impossible to have a credible unity tour between Bernie Sanders and Tom Perez.
It’s impossible to call yourself a populist a defend a law written by insurance industry lobbyists.
Let’s start with the so-called unity tour just completed with Sanders and Perez.
Crowds came out to see single payer Sanders and boo corporate Obamacare Perez.
On MSNBC last week, Chris Hayes had Perez and Sanders on his show.
Hayes asked Perez whether he supported single payer. Perez refused to answer. Sanders grimaced.
Of course Perez doesn’t support single payer.
Yet single payer is the driving force at all the town hall meetings.
Single payer is what fueled Bernie’s insurgent campaign last year.
And single payer won’t become law without a new political movement that will wash away Perez and the corporate Democrats.
The corporate Democratic leadership pushed Sanders into a CNN town hall debate with Senator Ted Cruz earlier this year.
They asked Sanders to defend Obamacare.
Sanders proved it was impossible.
Case in point.
A hair salon owner from Texas confronted Sanders with her dilemma.
LaRonda owns five hair salons in Texas and employs just under 50 workers. She keeps it under 50 because under Obamacare, more than 50 workers means that she has to buy them health insurance.
“How do I employ more Americans without either raising the prices to my customers or lowering wages to my employees?” LaRonda asked Sanders.
Sanders could have answered – “Well LaRonda, if we had my preferred plan – single payer – you wouldn’t have to bankrupt yourself by buying defective high priced health insurance from for profit health insurance companies. Under my plan, every American at birth gets a birth certificate and a Medicare card. They would be covered and you can hire employees to your heart’s content.”
Instead, Bernie answered with this:
“Let me give you an answer you will not be happy with. If you have more than 50 people, you know what, I think — I’m afraid to tell you — I think you will have to provide health insurance.”
Texas populist and single payer supporter Jim Hightower put himself in a similar bind with a column last week titled — Obamacare is Actually Working.
In it, Hightower seeks to achieve the impossible — populist single payer supporter defending a law written by insurance industry lobbyists in an effort to save the corporate Democrats and their insurance industry funders from themselves.
In the column, Hightower doesn’t mention single payer.
“While Obamacare has flaws that require fixing, overall it’s been a tremendous success,” Hightower writes.
To secure single payer, activists like Dr. Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese of Health Over Profit for Everyone are siding with the American people against Obamacare and the Democrats.
Zeese said that “Hightower surprisingly did not mention that 29 million are uninsured, tens of millions have inadequate insurance and that 30,000 people in the United States are dying each year because they do not have access to healthcare under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), nor did he mention the hundreds of thousands who go bankrupt because of medical illness even though they have insurance.”
“Now, with the failure of the ACA — and 30,000 dying can only be called a failed system — and the even worse failures of the two Republican attempts to replace it, there is only one path forward. It has always been the obvious solution but bipartisan corruption in DC by the healthcare profiteers has prevented it,” Zeese said. “Lower the age of Medicare inclusion to birth and improve it so the US has the best healthcare system in the world. A system that is of, by and for the people.”
“Yes, more people have health insurance but their out-of-pocket costs are so high and the coverage is so skimpy that people still can’t afford actual health care and bankruptcies due to medical illness continue unabated,” Flowers said. “In a real perversion of our system, people can now get screenings for disease, but can’t afford treatment once they are diagnosed with a new cancer or other disease.”
“And tens of millions of people remain without health insurance,” Flowers said. “The ACA can’t change that because it will never be affordable to everyone. That’s why we need to end this failed healthcare experiment and embrace the proven solution, National Improved Medicare for All as embodied in HR 676.”