Health Reform? Off the Table.

SF Gray Panthers Newsletter, April 2010

Health Reform? Off the Table.

First single-payer was off the table. Then a public option anyone could use was off the table.  Then the Medicare buy-in was off the table. And negotiated drug prices.  And cost controls. And .. And…

Most of us are angry, and whipsawed back and forth between pessimism and optimism. The health bill is a gigantic bailout for insurance, drug, hospital, and doctor industries, forcing us onto private insurance, while at the same time forcing down the value of that insurance and making us pay more out-of-pocket, and taking five hundred billion dollars from Medicare over the next ten years.  Our optimistic side says maybe 30 of the 50 million uninsured will get insured in four years, though many won’t be able to afford it and will choose to pay extra taxes instead.  Many of us have children barely able to keep a roof over their heads, maybe they’ll qualify for Medicaid, though Obama wants to cut Medicaid costs. And what if this awful health bill  failed?   These thoughts drive us nuts.

It has been a very bitter pill to see how marginalized we are.  Deep down, we hoped or expected  that once business realized the cost of insurance-based healthcare was unsustainable, our day would come, and our plan of removing insurance companies would be taken seriously. We were wrong.

The truth is we do not have a movement that’s capable of mounting a serious threat to the functioning of the economy or government, through strikes, sit-ins, or occupations.  We do not have the General Strikes that forced the government to cough up Social Security.  Nor the emerging sit-ins and marches against Jim Crow racism that forced them to cough up Medicare and Medicaid.  We cannot expect different results until we have the kind of movement, that can, and will, stop the gears for long enough to inflict serious pain.

Is healthcare more of a human right than food, when a quarter of US children are food-insecure. Is healthcare more of a human right than housing, when families with kids wait for months for shelter beds in San Francisco?  What about education?

We need to stop asking for our needs to be on the table.  We need to kick the table over.

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First single-payer was off the table. Then a public option anyone could use was off the table.  Then the Medicare buy-in was off the table. And negotiated drug prices.  And cost controls. And .. And…

Most of us are angry, and whipsawed back and forth between pessimism and optimism. The health bill is a gigantic bailout for insurance, drug, hospital, and doctor industries, forcing us onto private insurance, while at the same time forcing down the value of that insurance and making us pay more out-of-pocket, and taking five hundred billion dollars from Medicare over the next ten years.  Our optimistic side says maybe 30 of the 50 million uninsured will get insured in four years, though many won’t be able to afford it and will choose to pay extra taxes instead.  Many of us have children barely able to keep a roof over their heads, maybe they’ll qualify for Medicaid, though Obama wants to cut Medicaid costs. And what if this awful health bill  failed?   These thoughts drive us nuts.

It has been a very bitter pill to see how marginalized we are.  Deep down, we hoped or expected  that once business realized the cost of insurance-based healthcare was unsustainable, our day would come, and our plan of removing insurance companies would be taken seriously. We were wrong.

The truth is we do not have a movement that’s capable of mounting a serious threat to the functioning of the economy or government, through strikes, sit-ins, or occupations.  We do not have the General Strikes that forced the government to cough up Social Security.  Nor the emerging sit-ins and marches against Jim Crow racism that forced them to cough up Medicare and Medicaid.  We cannot expect different results until we have the kind of movement, that can, and will, stop the gears for long enough to inflict serious pain.

Is healthcare more of a human right than food, when a quarter of US children are food-insecure. Is healthcare more of a human right than housing, when families with kids wait for months for shelter beds in San Francisco?  What about education?

We need to stop asking for our needs to be on the table.  We need to kick the table over.

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2 Responses to “Health Reform? Off the Table.”


  1. 1 SallijaneG April 4, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Hello from the East Coast (New Jersey)!
    You are absolutely right, we need to get back to the activism of the 1960s if we want to accomplish real change. We tried electing Mr. Obama as president, and he has proven not committed enough to the vast changes that we need. Now it’s time to go back outside the system and do the strikes, street protests, and more that enabled the changes we did get in the 1950s–1960s struggles. We have more powerful communication tools than ever before, let’s use them for more than just griping to one another.

  2. 2 Kay Walker June 3, 2010 at 8:25 am

    It seems over half the country is marginalized when it comes to what the govenment is doing, including healthcare – if you beleive the media that is. But the beat goes on without any connection to the people. The alienation of the majority is not being addressed.


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