The Worker, July 13, 2015
Published by the Workers Party, USA
P.O. Box 25716, Chicago, IL 60625

More Public Monies Turned Over to Aetna-Humana, Cigna and Other Health Insurance Monopolies

Across the country, more than half of all Medicaid recipients have already been forced to enroll in Managed Care Organizations (MCOs).  A December 2014 report by a consulting firm called PricewaterhouseCoopers placed the figure at 66 percent. Some states have much higher rates.  For example in New York, health insurance monopolies have enrolled over 3/4 of all Medicaid recipients.  As of 2012, forty-five states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico had all already instituted commercially managed plans for Medicaid recipients to some degree. Accelerated nation-wide privatization of Medicaid is now taking place to an extent hailed by the Democratic and Republican parties as a “historic transformation.”  And the capitalists are drooling over the prospect of getting their hands on even more of the funds earmarked for Medicaid.  Several states have even set up yearly quotas to speed up the contracting out of Medicaid recipients to the health insurance monopolies.

In many cases MCOs have already enrolled the low income families that qualify for Medicaid in plans that require payment of burdensome out-of-pocket expenses. In addition, as the MCOs have enrolled Medicaid recipients in managed care plans, the public health safety net is further undermined as public clinics and hospitals find their reimbursement rates drastically reduced. 

Privatization of Medicaid bails out the rich but costs the country a fortune.  While overhead for traditional fee-for-service Medicaid is less than 3%, the private sector MCOs serving Medicaid recipients skim between 33% and 50% of the government funds off the top in profit and administrative costs.  Privatization of Medicaid also costs lives because minimizing and denying care is the operating principle under managed care. Unlike traditional fee-for-service Medicaid, Medicare, public hospitals and other health care facilities which make up at least a partial recognition of the people’s right to health care, MCOs organize health care delivery with the sole aim of maximizing profit. 

Slashing funds for social programs and turning the funds over to big business is part of the anti-social agenda of the two parties, which, through the fiscal policy of government, extract billions in taxes from the working people and turn this money over to the monopoly capitalists.  This anti-social offensive is intensifying because the capitalists seek to further shift the burden of the economic crisis onto the backs of the working people. According to the political economy of the capitalists, the government has no responsibility for the well-being of the people and the people have no rights by virtue of their humanity. According to the political economy of the capitalists, the workers and people can have no claims on the public treasury, no claims on the country’s yearly social product. 

The shredding of the public health safety net and the restructuring of our country’s entire health care system along the lines of managed care is bringing the contradictions of the for-profit system to the bursting point. The tremendous monopolization of the industry – which is controlled by a handful of multi-billion dollar conglomerates – reveals the high degree of socialization of economic life.  A modern medical infrastructure combined with a large army of trained health care workers is already organized into vast, nationwide networks able to provide health care for hundreds of millions of people. If the people had decision making power the funds in the public treasury would not be used to pay the rich and the medical infrastructure would immediately be turned over to the public and used to meet the needs of the people. Instead, the system is in crisis and the government is actively stepping in to make matters worse. 

The responsibility to find the way forward falls on the shoulders of the workers because the monopoly capitalist class is squandering the nation’s resources and leading our country to ruin.  We must develop a nation-wide political struggle.  The only way to resolve the contradictions of the for-profit health care system is by taking the entire health care sector out of private hands and turning it over to the public. The aim of the health care sector must be to guarantee the needs and rights of the people. 

Despite High Taxes, CPS Doesn’t Have Enough Money to Fully Staff the Schools

A budget deficit is to blame for plans to layoff 1,400 more public school employees according to Chicago Public Schools officials. Mayor Emanuel said the layoffs would be part of a plan to cut $200 million in spending during the coming school year. 

To emphasize its alleged scramble for funds, CPS even tried to negotiate this month for an extension of its obligation to pay into the Teacher’s Pension Fund. The plan was rejected and CPS is hanging the prospect of even deeper cuts over the heads of the teachers and other CPS employees. 

The effects of the policy of using taxpayer money to pay charter school operators and other private sector “educational entrepreneurs” are being felt.  Layoffs which put needed teachers out of work have been ongoing for several years. The consequent understaffing and overwork hurts both students and teachers as well as other staff. So too, taking large sums out of the city treasury in order to contract out services to for-profit companies robs the schools of needed funds for future budgets.  

The issue is not one of resources but of rights and priorities.  Everyone knows that our country creates more than enough wealth and has far more than enough resources to guarantee the best possible education for all. The real issue is: “Whose claims are recognized?” The real issue is: will the social system recognize and guarantee the RIGHT to education? Or will this right be trampled underfoot so that big business can continue to steal the funds earmarked for public education?