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SINGLE PAYER HEALTHCARE AND PRIVATIZATION

August 17, 2017

SINGLE PAYER HEALTHCARE AND PRIVATIZATION

We have been bombarded with propaganda by private interests on the supposed “evils” of government healthcare (single payer) who wish to keep the profit-oriented system in place. These private interests have little to say about other government programs such as Social Security and others which are not subjects of profit other than to complain about rates rather than the structure and purposes of such programs since such programs are rightly the subject of broad public support and resistant to propaganda.

They are openly at war with the conceptual basis for single payer healthcare in a desperate attempt to keep the nation’s healthcare tethered to profit opportunities, coming up with the usual arguments of socialism, “Big Government,” and other such putdowns in order to maintain the current privatization of healthcare, among other systems ripe for privatization (and lately even the military – to be peopled with renamed Blackwater Hessians aka thugs in talks between the Trump administration and Erik Prince, brother of Betsy DeVos, our anti-public education Secretary of Education, a billionaire who has never spent a day as a pupil in a public school). The plot is thickening; privatization is on the march.

Finance has already dictated our trade and investment policies both here and abroad through various ruses pretended to be for the public good but which have been disastrous to the interests of working Americans, including a race to the bottom for wages, the waning influence of unions as a countervailing force to corporate hegemony, right to work laws passed at the state level and other such tragedies in policymaking designed to suppress wages while fattening corporate bottom lines – and it’s working; the Dow is at 22,000 or thereabouts while median wages adjusted for inflation have been stagnant for some 40 years, all leading to tepid demand in the market and further impoverishment of working Americans.

It appears that no public program is immune to the reach of money and Wall Street and it securitization of debt or any other asset that moves (see collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs). Everything is up for grabs as we are in the process of voluntarily or involuntarily handing over public control of education, law, healthcare, medicine, our economy, our transportation system, perhaps the military, and even our air controller’s jobs to corporatized interests, thus not only adding to our costs but giving up our ability to hold such profiteers to account for what happens afterwards since it will be Wall Street rather than the rest of us who will inevitably make policy. Who elected Erik Prince or big bank CEOs on Wall Street?

If, for instance, under Trump’s plan to involve Wall Street in the financing of our needed infrastructure repair and renewal becomes a reality, you and I may well be paying tolls and fees from our respective driveways to wherever we are coming or going. The chief interest of Wall Street, of course, is to make a profit, not provide for a modernized infrastructure – that’s merely the cover – and an unnecessary exercise. We need not hand over our public transportation system to private interests in this connection; we could do as many countries have, i.e., create a development bank which could handle the financing with retirement of the debt as incurred gradually and over time while our economy is stimulated as a result of efficiencies occasioned by such pubic improvements – thus maintaining public control over public assets free of private greed and usurpation of the public’s right to manage its own affairs.

I have been blogging for years in favor of modernizing our infrastructure, as other developed countries have long since done, but if Trump’s plan to hand our transportation system over to private interests when alternative means of financing are available is the price we must pay, then I am opposed to repair and renewal of our transportation system until we have an administration that will do so in the public interest and not that of Wall Street.

As for various Republican proposals to “reform” Medicare, I am wary. The last time we “reformed” Medicare under George Bush, for instance, we prohibited Medicare from using its bargaining power like the VA to bargain with Big Pharma for lower drug prices. Result? Billions of dollars unnecessarily spent for high-priced drugs that would have been far cheaper if Medicare could bargain for lower prices. Another result? Big Pharma’s stock took off after Bush signed the bill, speaking of corporate welfare run amok. Hahnel in his book, Economic Justice and Democracy, writes: “Seeing Medicare on the road to privatization with more public spending without cost controls in place is corporate welfare, and will only compound America’s healthcare problems. Instead, the solution begins with government medical insurance to cover all Americans, not privatizing public medical insurance for the elderly who have it, and using the monopoly power of single government payer to control medical costs.”

He further notes that “Only a single-payer, government insurance program can provide universal coverage while containing costs by eliminating the considerable administrative costs of private-insurance cherry picking. Only a single-payer program can eliminate the paperwork and confusion

associated with administering multiple insurance plans, all of which are worse deals than provided through single-payer systems in every other industrialized country in the world.” He is right; virtually every other developed country in the world has a single payer system and delivers better results at half the costs than our present mishmash of programs provide.

The only thing keeping us from having universal coverage at far less cost than at present is the campaign contribution lovefest of the Republican Party with Big Pharma, HMOs and big insurance companies, all in the business of profit making with little to no regard for either the costs or efficiencies single payer coverage would afford to America, an America where the chief cause of bankruptcy is medical bills that sick and disabled petitioners cannot afford to pay.

The present system reeks to high heaven of corporate welfare, and we should end this giveaway by adopting a single payer system that is fairer, cheaper and more efficient than the one we have, and socialism? Nearly all of the world’s capitalist countries have single payer coverage, and socialist countries like Cuba and others embrace such a system as well. Contrary to propaganda by Big Pharma and others interested in privatizing health care for their own bottom lines, the nation’s healthcare system as a system knows no politics. It’s about health. Let’s continue to agitate for adoption of single payer healthcare. As demonstrated by France, the U.K., Germany and many others, it makes economic as well as moral sense. Why not go for better coverage at half the cost and end this nonsense?     GERALD     E

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