Saturday, July 7, 2012

Obamascare II: Now What?

One danger in the Obamascaredebate’ (more like dueling stampedes: water buffalo vs. bison) is the part we may forget in the effort to score coup on our opponents’ hides.  That is, what working people should be coming together to achieve.  Single payer.  Universal health care.  Promote the general welfare – including well-ness.  No profiteering insurance companies.  No corporate ‘death panels’.  That is, not the imaginary ‘death panels’ of Sarah Palin LLC, but the ones that actually exist – the specialists who kick people out of the coverage sphere just for getting sick, or turn people away for being sick, too sick to be insured, or deny coverage for treatments prescribed by doctors, the high-priced lawyers who use all their showmanship in support of said pig-greedy insurance Scrooges while the patient dies, and their acolytes.  No more “are you insured?” or “may I see your card?” – just “what seems to be the problem?”  Some day, we hope.

As one of our local working-class heroes here in Champaign-Urbana, Claudia Lennhoff of CCHCC, says, "I believe that you can be both a single payer supporter/activist, and someone who ALSO sees how the health reform law will benefit millions of people, AND how it will help pave the way for universal health care and even single payer in our country (both through the content of the law, and also through the community organizing possibilities implementation of health reform presents)."

Michael Moore clearly agrees.  

But the math geek still inside me, when I hear people say this new reform will present a stumbling block to achieving single-payer, says, That, my friends, is an untestable hypothesis.  I have expressed my opinion (that theirs is half-historical bunk), but in reality there is absolutely no way to know whether single-payer might have been more easily achieved - or less - without this reform.  Unless you have a time machine.

The idea that single-payer won't happen as long as Obamacare is in place, could of course become a self-fulfilling prophesy if Believers in said prophesy drop out of efforts to move forward.  (Some have already begun.)  Or it could energize supporters of single-payer to get the word out, get the protest signs out, get the letters to the editor out, and make the case for single-payer.  

But not just that.  No reform was ever put on paper that did not take a fight afterwards to see it through.  The Emancipation Proclamation.  The Thirteenth Amendment.  The Nineteenth Amendment.  Brown v. Board of Education.  The Civil Rights Act of 1964, and 1968.  The Voting Rights Act of 1965.  And so on.

Specifically, states must act to set up exchanges.  We need health care co-ops.  We need to fight to expand existing programs that work - Medicare, and more local programs like CHIPs.
At the same time, non-rich folks face a fight for the survival of existing programs in many cities, states and at the federal level - childcare, services for children with behavioral problems and mental illness, and for adults with disabilities and mental illnesses, home care for seniors and others, drug rehab programs, prescription assistance for the elderly, etc. - many of which have already been hacked to the bone and now face severe cuts or elimination, all part of a misguided obsession with budget austerity that is supposed to magically fix the economy.  Never has, never will.  We need social and health services, which may not end poverty or provide care for everyone, but they sure as hen-poop do help a lot of people.
Obamacare may be in the same category now that it's been upheld and all.  But all these programs need expanding (#1) and (B) need a lot of fixing to get rid of bureaucratic nonsense, loopholes, etc, and (III) need and deserve the (critical) support of everyone who is willing to work for more and better.

No comments: