Summer Health Care fight heats up!

BY:Communist Party USA| August 11, 2009
Summer Health Care fight heats up!

Last week the mayor of Hiroshima, Japan chose to commemorate the 64th year since the atom bomb destroyed his city by praising President Obama’s call for abolition of nuclear weapons. He referred to the “Obamajority” in the world which supports this cause.

Within our country, the Obamajority is needed to take to the streets in support of health care with a public option paid for by reversing the obscene tax giveaways to the super rich during the Bush years. If health care reform fails, it will be a giant step backwards for the Obama administration and for working people, the labor movement, African American, Latino, Asian-Pacific Island communities, women and youth on every issue including the economy, peace and democracy.

August is key. Members of Congress are home for summer recess. They will be seeking out the opinions of their constituents. The right wing is actively trying to shut down expression of opinion. They are using strong-arm tactics to disrupt town hall meetings, oppose any public option and push for taxing the health benefits of working people. Along with some centrists, they want to slow the process down. This would only benefit the medical-pharmaceutical corporate quest to further increase their profits.

The majority is not happy with their health care as right-wingers like Rush Limbaugh contend. The majority has no health care–or too little health care–or are in danger of losing what they have won through their unions. The majority want Medicare improved and expanded.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi says that in September, HR 3200, based on the work of three House committees, will come to the floor for vote. In the Senate, the finance committee continues to deliberate. The health committee has already put its legislation forward. These bills will have to be melded together.

Among the biggest points of contention are:

  • Will there be a public option?
  • Will the funding come from taxing the rich or from taxing working peoples health care benefits?
  • Will immigrants and women’s reproductive services, etc. be included?

The Republicans and right-wing extremists are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on media ads and hired thugs. They want to shift the atmosphere and create confusion and doubts to undermine the current overwhelming support for public option.

They aim to break the historic multi racial unity built up in the course of the Obama election. The racist cartoons that have surfaced against Obama, the “birthers” media campaign and challenges to the appointment of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court add to the Klan-like lynching atmosphere.

They are also attempting to build up hysteria by labeling Obama’s commitment to the right to health care as a “socialist agenda.” It is no accident that the first of the storm-trooper type mob actions disrupting congressional town hall meetings took part at the time of the celebration of the 40th anniversary of Medicare.

Medicare is a stellar example and argument for public option and for single-payer. Medicare is a government health program that is popularly thought of as essential. Only the privatization efforts of the Bush administration have weakened it.

The right-wing Republican tactics to stop healthcare reform are also meant to strengthen their hand against the Employee Free Choice Act and the entire labor program. The tactics are part of the right-wing plan to re-take Congress in the 2010 elections.

As the labor movement, Health Care for America Now, Organizing for America and so many other organizations have concluded, what happens in August is critical. The AFL-CIO  has developed a national 30-day plan of door-to-door campaigning and phone banking, including the Alliance of Retired Americans and Working America. They are letting members of Congress know that they will not give support for re-election to those who do not support health care and Employee Free Choice.

Progressive forces are organizing to attend every congressional town hall meeting and counter the right-wing attempts to disrupt, take them over, and deny the democratic process.

Organizing for America (OFA) is planning thousands of events, door knocks and phone banks in August.  In an email to OFA President Obama called on all those who built the movement for his election to step forward now. He reiterated, “every day we don’t act, Americans watch their premiums rise three times faster than wages, small businesses and families are pushed towards bankruptcy, and 14,000 people lose their coverage entirely. The cost of inaction is simply too much for the people of this nation to bear.”

The phone banks, rallies, vigils and marches in favor of health care reform that have been organized in the last few weeks around the country have had good turnout and media. Much more street heat and visibility is needed, with those who lack healthcare coverage in the forefront.Many excellent materials are available. The daily on-line edition of the People’s Weekly World, as well as the weekly print edition, covers breaking news and provides a deeper understanding of the issue and how to win support.

A factsheet issued by Health Care for America Now (HCAN) answers point by point a 500 page right-wing e-mail document being sent around the country which is filled with false information that stirs up fears about rationing and lack of choice.

HCAN has issued a letter to the Blue Dog Coalition (PDF) on why public option and taxing top incomes are essential components of health care reform in order to keep down costs and cover both middle income and low-income individuals and families.

Blue Dog Democrats who were elected in districts that McCain carried have been targeted for pressure by the right wing to oppose these reforms. The Congressional Progressive Caucus, working with the Black, Hispanic and Asian Pacific Caucuses is pushing hard to make sure the language that comes to the floor includes measures for healthcare equity and a strong public option.

Rep Barbara Lee, who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus and is an active leader in the Progressive Caucus, issued an e-mail on August 5 emphasizing that “doing the bidding of insurance executives is the wrong way to go about reforming our health care system” There are now 57 signatures by members of Congress on a letter to Speaker Pelosi opposing any bill that does not include a strong public health insurance option. Voters are asked to request that their member of Congress sign the letter.

In compliment to supporting a strong public option to close the emergency health care gap, organizing continues in support of a single payer health care system which would create universal coverage at the lowest cost. Amendments for a single payer system are expected from the floor of the House. An amendment which allows states to implement single payer was passed with bi-partisan support in committee.

The Los Angeles City Council passed a resolution supporting “the immediate enactment of the Administration’s health care reform principles.” They are calling on other cities to do the same. The Council acted in response to marches, vigils and phone banks organized in East LA and other neighborhoods. (PDF)

Congress and the President have established websites to provide information about
what the health care reform bills mean to individuals.  The White House has established
a fact-check web page, called “Health Insurance Reform Reality Check” and the House Energy and Commerce Committee breaks down the impact of the legislation by Congressional District

This fight for health care is a fight for the ability to win on every other issue starting with Employee Free Choice and all the way to state budget priorities. It is a fight for unity against the ultra-right. What happens at the grassroots will in large part decide what happens in Congress. Now is the time for the Obamajority to act.


Photo: Healthcare is a Human Right rally in Vermont, May, 2009. / CC BY 2.0


    The Communist Party USA is a  revolutionary working-class  political party founded in 1919 in Chicago, IL. The Communist Party stands for the interests of the American working class and the American people. It stands for our interests in both the present and the future. Solidarity with workers of other countries is also part of our work. We work in coalition with the labor movement, the peace movement, the student movement, organizations fighting for equality and social justice, the environmental movement, immigrants rights groups and the health care for all campaign. But to win a better life for working families, we believe that we must go further. We believe that the American people can replace capitalism with a system that puts people before profit — socialism. We are rooted in our country's revolutionary history and its struggles for democracy. We call for "Bill of Rights" socialism, guaranteeing full individual freedoms.

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