The Battle For Healthcare
Posted on January 5, 2017
Health care is the leading issue for the next two years:
1. Many in the US House and Senate are committed to repealing Obamacare.
2. Opponents of Obamacare are itching to destroy Medicare by shifting a voucher system. plus other means of pushing more costs onto patients.
It’s not just the direct effects of these regressive changes that they care about. The intended symbolism is absolutely crucial: all lives matter, provided only that you are rich enough and can afford to stay alive. Once they establish that people of limited means have no value to the state, they can do anything they want to take away even more resources and to put them even further down. And “limited means” will eventually mean the bottom 90%.
Lots of horrible things will happen in the next two years that cannot be stopped, but dismantling the socialized aspects of health care CAN be stopped. The interests are important enough and concentrated enough and sufficiently widespread that we can create the same kind of third rail reaction that saved Social Security at a parallel moment in 2005 when the majority in Congress claimed that dominance of all branches of government was the same as a blank check.
Here are some key facts that must be dramatized over and over again.
1. Although the details differ, every proposal without exception has the effect of putting more people at risk of medical bankruptcy. If all proposals by opponents of Obamacare are adopted, almost EVERYONE except the 1% will be at risk of medical bankruptcy. This is a rare case where it is in the unified interest of essentially everyone to oppose the plan to kill Obamacare (once they understand what is going on).
2. The plan to abolish Obamacare in 2 years with no replacement plan adopted now means that there can be no replacement at all. That’s because congressional opponents of Obamacare have never, in 8 years of trying, been able to agree on any plan. And that in turn is because the right wing ideal consists in unfettered markets with no socialized component. And many extremists will not support anything less.
3. Abolishing Obamacare means returning to the bad old days when, for example, insurance companies cherry picked pre-existing conditions and there were no lifetime limits on patient liability.
Note that, in order to stop it, we do not need to get everyone to understand what is going on. All it takes to scare off Congress is a mobilized, intense, angry minority, with little support for the other side coming from the enemies of socialized medicine. The thing is, Obamacare has always been an utterly phony and politicized issue with no real interests behind it–other than antigovernment ideology, plus the partisan handing a defeat to Democrats
Moreover we have some very powerful allies. The 1% are far from united in supporting regressive changes in health care. In particular, the health care industry constitutes 17% of GDP, and nearly every segment of that industry includes some very rich people who stand to lose a lot of money if Obamacare is repealed.