Two Candidates and the Winner Remains
With the exit of John Edwards the day after the Super Tuesday primaries last month, we now find ourselves with two Democratic Party candidates contesting to be President of the United States – U.S. Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. While space doesn’t allow for a thorough comparison of their respective programs (or lack thereof) on the many issues and needs that confront the majority of the American people, a short examination of the national health care crisis, the growing need for a comprehensive solution and a comparison of these two candidates’ positions on how they plan to address that crisis is worthy of consideration.
According to a recent investigative study by Consumer Reports, nearly 47 million Americans, 16% of the population, had no health care insurance and another 70 million (24%) were determined to be underinsured, which the study defined as having “inadequate access to healthcare.” That’s 40% of the US population! These disastrous statistics define a severe and growing crisis in access to healthcare, not to mention the rapid deterioration in the quality of care and delivery of medical services to those who actually have healthcare insurance. At the same time, health insurance premiums have increased 87 % over the past 10 years, enabling the nation’s six biggest private health insurers to collectively amass $11 billion in profits in just 2006 alone.
Both Clinton and Obama have healthcare insurance proposals that will further enrich the health insurance industry. Clinton’s insurance coverage proposal will require nearly 45 million uninsured to make monthly co-payments into a government subsidized program that is projected to cost taxpayers $124 billion per year, according to MIT economist Jonathon Gruber. Her proposed plan makes enrollment and co-payments mandatory for 45 million uninsured. Enforcement will occur by either imposing monthly cash penalties, tax penalties or even garnishing the wages of those who don’t enroll in her mandated insurance plan.
Obama’s proposal will cover 23 to 30 million of those currently uninsured, at a taxpayer cost of nearly $102 billion or more, depending on voluntary enrollment, according to the same Gruber study. His proposal requires government payments to the health insurance industry to provide coverage for all uninsured children and voluntary enrollment for uninsured adults who, if they choose to enroll, would make monthly co-payments for coverage in a government subsidized health insurance plan.
We should not be surprised that each candidate has a proposal that promises to further enrich the health insurance industry with windfall profits. Both candidates answer to the corporations that currently run all levels of our government. And it’s not an accident that the campaigns of both candidates are receiving handsome contributions from corporate America.
Neither proposal speaks to the actual quality of care that people will receive. Clearly, those workers in medium to low-wage jobs, and those who don’t have jobs from which the corporations can make a profit, are not going to receive the same quality of medical care as do Clinton and Obama. Just as there is a new and growing class of poverty-wage workers and dispossessed on one economic pole, there exists a small capitalist class, with its elite political leaders on the other pole. And the economic middle is not holding onto its middle ground. It’s being forced into the new and growing class of dispossessed. These are two very different Americas with two very different qualities of healthcare delivery.
Increased access to some sort of healthcare and the receipt of quality healthcare are also two very different things. Access to quality healthcare will continue to be denied to increasing numbers of the American people, while the profits of the insurance industry will continue to soar unimpeded, unless the vast majority of the American people demand otherwise. As a 21st century people, living in a new epoch of electronic based automation, we are capable of building a new society. The political tactic today of organizing around a national, government, single-payer healthcare program of universal quality care, that eliminates the health insurance industry middle-men, is being embraced by growing numbers of the American people. That tactic points the way to building a new 21st century American society.
From the Editors
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