Obama's Health Care "Reform"

The following article is reprinted from The Worker, January 17, 2010.

Modern medicine and technology have created all the means necessary to provide health care for the people. But for the capitalists, the health care industry is only another means for maximizing profits; rather than being motivated by improving the health of the population, the health care monopolies use the suffering and diseases of the people as a means to fatten their profits. The struggle for free and comprehensive health care is essentially a struggle of the people against the capitalist system of profit-making as it applies to the medical and health care field. It is a fight for the rights of the people against the power and privilege of the rich.

Precisely because, through their struggles, the people have been demanding a solution to the problem of health care, the capitalist class and its politicians have been discussing the necessity for change in the health care system. Of course Obama and the other capitalist politicians have no intention of voluntarily providing free health care for the masses of the people. The capitalists who, with the help of the labor aristocracy and opportunism, monopolize the political life of the country are seeking: 1) to divert and undermine the movement for health care reform by narrowing its scope and liquidating its basic demand; 2) to push through "reform" which guarantees even greater profits for the health care industry while further shifting the costs of the for-profit health care system onto the backs of the workers.

The labor aristocrats who head up the AFL-CIO are calling on the workers to lobby for the health care "reform" being considered in Congress. What are the main provisions of the health care "reform" bills recently passed by the House and Senate? Both would: 1) make it a federal law for individuals to buy health care insurance or be fined; 2) establish a health insurance exchange – a market to buy federally subsidized health care insurance. While being forced to purchase health insurance, the workers would be saddled with huge premiums, deductibles, and co-payments. This would mean a worsened living standard for the workers because they would be forced to pay insurance premiums that they cannot afford. It would also mean that workers still could not afford most medical treatment because of large deductibles and co-pays, and because many services still wouldn't be covered at all. Furthermore, these "reforms" would be a huge boon to the insurance companies who will be guaranteed by law an even bigger market and given hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies.

The two vital features of these plans for health care "reform" are: 1) the health care industry, as a system run on the basis of maximizing profit, remains intact; 2) the workers are forced to pay. Under these plans, the insurance companies, the hospitals, drug companies, etc. would all continue to seek maximum profits while shifting the burden onto the workers through higher premiums and deductibles. And the workers will be forced to pay through higher and higher taxes.

The labor aristocrats and opportunists who are pushing these plans insist that such proposals are "realistic" and "pragmatic" while the demand that the rich be forced to pay is "too extreme, too radical." They are trying to pressure the people to give up the basic demand of free, comprehensive and universal health care for all.

But of course the people have the right to free medical care and a healthy life. Furthermore, we know that without a fundamental change in the health care system, one way or another the workers will be denied needed care and the best medical services will remain reserved for the millionaires.

The need for fundamental reform of the health care system in the U.S. has been and will continue to be placed on the agenda by the struggles of the masses of people themselves. In order to turn our spontaneous and localized struggles for health care into a nation-wide movement, in order to win the demand for free, comprehensive health care, paid for by the rich, the workers need to come into the political arena as an independent force. By coming out as an independent political force in opposition to the capitalist politicians who insist on keeping the health-care system as a field for profit-making, we can force the government to meet our basic demands.