Saturday, October 25, 2008

Socialized health care by Alan Maki

Socialized health care continues to be evaded by advocates of health care reform even though anyone who takes the time to question people on a door-to-door basis in any working class community quickly finds out that when given choices which include socialized health care this is the choice of many people… more than those supporting single-payer universal health care, and far more than Clinton’s or Obama’s “plans,” which in fact are for maintaining the status quo with insurance companies, hospitals, doctors, and pharmaceutical companies reaping huge profits.

Of course all this controversy on what should be the obvious solution is a lobbyist’s dream come true.

Physicians for a National Healthcare Policy (PNHP), in spite of their excellent work in support of single-payer (and what they call) universal national health insurance--- rather than “single-payer universal health care”--- has contributed to the growing confusion and misunderstanding around finding solutions to this present health care mess created because the interests of profiteers has been placed before the health care needs of people.

Even HR 676 will require substantial “tweaking” before it measures up to what can be called real single-payer universal health care; and here we need to be very honest in what most people are assuming HR 676 is; when people are asked what they think HR 676 is, they believe it is based on the system in Canada which is very well defined by the Canadian Health Act (anyone can “google” up the Canada Health Act). In fact, HR 676 falls far short of the Canada Health Act.

I would suggest to anyone who is concerned with truthfully finding out what the American people want, they do what we did in Roseau County, Minnesota and take ALL proposals to the people and allow the people to explain what it is they want. We went door-to-door to hundreds of homes in very economically diverse communities and found the overwhelming majority of the people saying, “We want what they have in Canada.”

This is what people described as what they were looking for:

No-fee, comprehensive (from pre-natal to grave), all-inclusive (everything from mental health to nutrition and eye and dental together with including heavily subsidized prescriptions), single-payer universal health care; publicly funded and publicly administered with the majority of people saying hospitals should be owned by the government and doctors should be paid a set salary by the government.

We then took what people said they wanted and drafted a resolution to be considered by Roseau County DFL precinct caucuses (Republicans were asked to submit the same resolution to their precinct caucuses in Roseau County but refused. Roseau County DFL Chair Ley Soltis who is employed by Marvin Windows and Doors, the largest non-union employer in Minnesota, tried, along with DFL State Senator LeRoy Stumpf and State Chair, Brian Melendez, to undermine our efforts to get an open debate on this issue.

Even many members of the Minnesota Universal Health Care Coalition which is dominated by middle class (as distinct from working class) and business elements tried to undermine our efforts--- including PNHP researcher Kip Sullivan initiating a vicious anti-communist, red-baiting campaign in true Hubert Humphrey fashion on behalf of Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor party leaders Mike Hatch and Matt Entenza, in fact Entenza--- who at the time was the Leader of the Minnesota DFL House Legislative Caucus was forced to withdraw from his campaign for Attorney General largely because of his role in initiating this this dirty vicious anti-communist campaign which included setting up anonymous blogs accusing people of being “pedophiles and child molesters” while knowing full well they were indulging in a campaign of dirty, hateful lies… but, such are the politics of middle class politicians who find self-amusement in such “sport.” The actual blogs were found to have been created by a DFL party activist employed in the offices of the Attorney General for the State of Minnesota--- at the time, Kip Sullivan’s friend, Mike Hatch. To this day there have been no prosecutions and these disgraceful blogs remain on the Internet; the filth was allowed to enter the Minnesota Universal Health Care list serve by its Democratic Party moderator and these dirty filthy messages still remain on Minnesota Universal Health Care Internet site.

In spite of all of this, the Lake Township DFL precinct caucus passed this resolution which simply stated delegates were for: “No-fee, all-inclusive, comprehensive single-payer universal health care; publicly financed and publicly administered.” Delegates made themselves very clear that “no-fee” meant “no premiums.” It was understood that there would be no “economic” test to qualify for health care. It was understood that health care would be financed in the exact same manner as Social Security and that the most significant burden of financing health care should fall to the corporations and business.

Between the precinct caucuses and the Roseau County DFL Convention this resolution went “missing.” In spite of this resolution going missing, a motion was made to suspend the rules of the Roseau County DFL Convention for the purpose of considering this resolution which then passed unanimously without any noted opposition only after numerous amendments were brought forward for everything from free prescription medications to doctors being placed on salary all of which were not accepted as friendly amendments simply because the majority of the hundreds of people we talked to in our door-to-door campaign had not given us any clear indication they were fully in support of these measures. Anyways, again, this resolution passed unanimously without any noted opposition or abstentions recorded in the minutes.

Again, someplace between the Roseau County DFL Convention and the State DFL Convention, this resolution from Roseau County together with the exact same resolution from seven other county conventions, all went “missing.” In spite of these shenanigans, the MN DFL State Convention passed, by a 72% majority, a resolution I wrote, calling for “single-payer universal health care” and within hours of its passage, DFL candidate for United States Senate Amy “Republican Lite” Klobuchar announced on Minnesota Public Radio that she would not be supporting “single-payer universal health care” in any form including HR 676.

This is what we get when labor fakers, middle class “intellectuals” and professors, along with doctors, lawyers and pharmacists are allowed to dominate politics. On such an important and vital issue which is quite literally a life and death issue for many Minnesotans and other Americans, politics is turned into a middle class sport where words are distorted and the wishes of the people are manipulated to serve the self-serving interests of a bunch of corrupt politicians like Amy “Republican Lite” Klobuchar, Mike Hatch and Matt Entenza.

Many of those who tried to undermine the struggle for support of real single-payer universal health care in Minnesota then turned to supporting legislation drafted by State Senator John Marty for political expediency and first tried to palm off his “Minnesota Health Act” as single-payer universal health care, which it is not. In fact, the proponents of the legislation make the claim that it will only save Minnesotans from 5% to 15% percent from their present health care costs; but even this claim is dubious because the proponents have been so dishonest that they do not even provide any facts and figures to back up their claims and, like with the Wall Street “bailout,” no one from the media asks to see the facts or figures and those who started out promoting this scheme under the guise of single-payer universal health care now admit that the “Minnesota Health Act” is not single-payer universal health care… not because they have any scruples, but because they were challenged by Minnesotans who want real single-payer universal health care as articulated in the resolutions like those passed by DFL County Conventions.

That politicians and middle class “intellectuals” who view politics as sport lack the political and moral integrity to honestly bring all ideas on health care into the marketplace of ideas demonstrates they have a complete disdain for democracy and lack of respect for working people--- many of whom have been denied access to health care and are forced into bankruptcy trying to get well.

We see the very same games being played out in Internet chat-rooms, on list serves and by organizations like “Progressives for Obama” headed up by the darling of the AIPAC lobby, Tom Hayden and labor leaders who talk about “middle class values” because the lifestyles they lead--- like doctors and those making big money off of health care--- have more in common with deceitful and muddle-headed uncaring middle class professors who decide to dabble in politics as sport because playing touch football is too tough for them.

I agree we must rally behind HR 676 but we must clearly articulate that we want HR 676 revised to be brought in line with the Canada Health Act so that Americans get what they really want--- nothing less than what the Canadians have without paying a single penny more.

It is good that doctors have taken some initiatives through the PNHP, but what is really needed is for working people experiencing the problems with this abysmal health care system which places profits above the health care needs of people to speak out.

When a full, open and honest debate is finally allowed to take place--- more than likely such open debate itself will have to be vigorously fought for--- I believe we will find that the majority of the people in this country--- the working class--- will come down on the side of socialized health care; but, without a full public debate free from the vicious red-baiting incited by middle class intellectuals and bookworms who see politics as “sport,” together with the American Medical Association which has always seen in socialized health care some kind of insidious Bolshevik plot, health care for working people will be nothing more as going from illness into the abyss of poverty as they struggle for survival from pay-check to pay-check--- for those lucky enough to have a job.

To me, the tell-tale sign that most of these doctors and middle class intellectuals are less than sincere about real health care reform is the fact that they turn their heads in indifference to, and turn their backs on, the more than two-million Americans forced to work in the smoke-filled casinos of the Indian Gaming Industry at more than 450 casinos strung out across this country--- workers who get fired for coming down with lung, cervical and skin cancers, heart and lung problems; workers forced into employment without any rights under state, federal or tribal labor laws by the very same politicians who are now concocting all kinds of convoluted schemes to evade providing Americans with the health care system they want: just what the Canadians have.

There are those, like the author and book-smart distinguished anti-communist middle class lawyer and intellectual, Kip Sullivan, who accuse me of undermining efforts to bring about single-payer universal health care by advocating socialized health care when in fact those like Kip Sullivan are afraid to defend their whacky schemes like the proposed Minnesota Health Act brought forward for the political expediency of corrupt politicians who have a complete disdain for working people except at election time when they need their votes and then there is no shortage of big promises made who have no intent of doing anything other than what the lobbyist with the biggest bribe is telling them to do.

Time and time again Brian Melendez the State Chair of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party prevented me from bringing up the health care issue for full debate before the State Central Committee. And, Melendez sought to nullify the resolution in support of single-payer universal health care, first by refusing to post the resolution on the official MN DFL web site along with the rest of the Action Agenda; but then, Chair Melendez using as his cover, the DFL Progressive Caucus, re-wrote the resolution to state “affordable universal health care.” Dirty, dirty politics no matter from which angle the situation is viewed, and socialized health care has yet to be brought into the public square for a full hearing… so much for democracy.

Then we had the vicious racist attack by Green Party spokesperson Rhoda Gilman on Jeff Hayden--- the only Democratic Party Candidate for the State Legislature publicly supporting HR 676. Gilman’s statement was published on David Shove’s “Progressive Calendar:” “Jeff is a nice, friendly guy, obese, and neither energetic nor very articulate.” A very typical racist smear against one of a very few African-Americans seeking public office in Minnesota from a middle class intellectual who writes “coffee table” history books for her middle class friends to set out when they want to pretend they have an understanding of Minnesota history. One has to ask, what does anything in this statement from Rhoda Gilman provide which might encourage unity in support of single-payer universal health care after the election. Gilman never took issue with a single political issue over which she might have disagreements with Hayden… yet, this highly acclaimed and noted author carefully chose her words to attack Jeff Hayden in this very disgusting racist manner--- Hayden is a concerned citizen and first-time candidate for the state legislature contesting for the seat previously held by one on Minnesota’s most distinguished progressive legislators, Neva Walker, an African-American woman who has been one of the most ardent supporters of single-payer universal health care legislation.

I have come under attack for calling this written statement from Rhoda Gilman “racist.” Those attacking me claim the statement was “merely inappropriate.” Racist” or “inappropriate,” there has been no apology from Rhoda Gilman, the middle class intellectual, who always knows what is best and good for working people even when it means destroying two-thousand union jobs by demolishing the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant where many of the workers just happen to be people of color who at present have health care insurance compliments of a union contract, so that in its place can be established what Rhoda Gilman envisages in her middle class mind a model “green community” which will only include racially segregated upscale housing and poverty wage jobs. Is there not a pattern here to Gilman’s racism which is as obvious as the racist patterns for housing, education, employment and recreation established for the City of St. Paul by generations of racially bigoted politicians making pretensions to being “progressive,” including current Mayor, most of the City Council and the Board of Education along with the Planning Commission? Rhoda Gilman is so arrogant she had the unmitigated gall to help draft a Green Party proposal in support of demolishing the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant without even having the moral and political courage, not to mention the respect to approach Ford workers to find out what they thought of losing their jobs to such a scheme before releasing this scheme to the public.

You know, I have to wonder how it is that these middle class intellectuals who fear discussing socialized health care have no second thoughts or qualms about writing about Jeff Hayden as Rhoda Gilman has done… I think there is something kind of racist and anti-working class in just have the audacity to think that writing such a statement would go unchallenged.

I would also point out that many, many working class people are intimidated from making their views known and running for public office because of the sentiments “articulated” by Rhoda Gilman. Whether or not one is fat or thin; articulate or not or how energetic they are as seen through the eyes of middle class snobs like Rhoda Gilman has nothing to do with the issues.

I wonder how Green Party Presidential Candidate Cynthia McKinney would feel should she find out about how Rhoda Gilman, speaking for the Green Party in writing this statement about Jeff Hayden, would feel and what her reaction might be?

That I would become the target of further vitriol and rage on the part of middle class intellectuals and their small business associates says a great deal about such people because they don’t even have the courage to insist that Rhoda Gilman apologize for this pathetic and disgusting behavior. Of course, these same people try to pawn off the Minnesota Health Act as being single-payer universal health care when it is the farthest thing from such and no bunch of middle class intellectuals free from the daily struggle of survival is going to convince me, or bully me, to back down from what I think about this no matter how many profane telephone calls, threats or insulting e-mails I receive.

I agree with the comment of the writer of this posting to the Internet list serve--- Portside; although I think the time to start pushing hard is right now because no matter who gets elected the needs of working people for single-payer universal health care as a first step towards socialized health care remain the same urgent requirement. It was largely on this issue of health care reform that I decided to forego voting for Barack Obama and cast my vote for Cynthia McKinney, but, no matter what candidates we choose to vote for, or if people decide not to vote at all, in the end we need to be united on the need for real health care reform which requires nothing short of single-payer universal health care:

3.Re: Comment on Krugman's "The Real Plumbers of Ohio"
From: Dave Ecklein

Peter Belmont's comment on Krugman's "The Real Plumbers of
Ohio" is very apt. I hope someone posts to his question
about the extent of government subcontracting and what it is
really costing us. More of it may be coming, whether from
the Republicans or the Democrats.

A looming example of this can be found in health care.
Everyone these days seems to be for "universal health care",
and all is well with that sentiment until you look at the
details of their proposals. Both candidates, and many health
care reformers, are suggesting different ways to preserve the
current private insurance based system through government
subsidies. This in an effort to promote "universal access"
of some kind. It really is government insurance for the
continued existence of an inequitable and wasteful system.
Currently the private insurance company overhead amounts to
about 30%, ten times that of the Medicare/Medicaid systems.

The way they are set up now, even the Medicare and Medicaid
systems are in effect subsidizing the private health
insurance outfits by removing the most medically costly
sectors of the population from their pools, leaving the
privateers to cherry-pick among the healthiest sectors.
These government systems should be subsumed in an expanded
and improved Medicare system, completely replacing private
insurance for medically necessary expenses. The details have
been worked out in the gold standard for health care reform,
HR-676, in Congress now, introduced by Rep. Conyers and
supported by 93 congressional cosponsors at last count.

We are already paying for over 60% of the health care
delivery in this country through our taxes; a far higher per-
capita cost than most other advanced countries having
universal single-payer systems. But we are not getting it.
Most indices of US public health and health care assign a low
ranking (according to World Health Organization, of 190
countries, US ranks 37th in health care systems, and a
whopping 72nd in public health).

The next administration will have to be pushed hard to make
good on their promises of universal health care. Sham
solutions (subsidizing and further ensconcing private
insurance) will not do; we must rally behind HR-676 and

See for more details on HR-676 and the single-
payer movement.

Dave Ecklein