LaborTalk for April 9, 2010

What Happens to 47 Million (+) Uninsured
From Today to Year 2014—and Beyond?

By Harry Kelber


There probably are no loud cheers for the new health-care law coming from the 47 million people who are currently without health insurance It appears that only 32 million will have access to health care coverage, and they won’t be eligible for this important medical protection until 2014.

What happens to the other 15 million who are left out of the law? And what about the tens of thousands of people who will be added to the pool of the uninsured in the next four years, because they cannot afford the high premiums, co-pays and out of-pocket expenses? (Based on past records, an estimated 100,000 people will be left to die between now and 2014 for lack of medical treatment.)

How will the recipients of health insurance be selected? What if many newly-insured people, especially low-income families, can’t keep up with the medical costs, and are forced to give it up or go into bankruptcy? Will there be a time limit to the government’s subsidies for health care?

Some 8 million to 10 million undocumented immigrants are denied access to coverage under the health care law, even though a great many of these workers are employed in restaurants and in the care of children, the sick and the elderly. The law also contains a sharp attack on a woman’s right to decide whether or not to have an abortion, This discriminatory provision will be especially hard on working women.

A major problem of the new law is that there is no effective enforcement mechanism to make the insurance industry comply with its complex provisions. Nor is there an adequate oversight committee to see that the law is fairly administered.

Giving Up the ‘Public Option’ Left Insurance Industry in Control

At its convention last year, the AFL-CIO voted to support a single-payer health-care plan. It also approved a resolution calling on President Obama and the Democratic majority in Congress to include a “public option” in the final legislation, with the hope that it would be a pathway to a universal health insurance system.

AFL-CIO leaders had insisted they would not support any health-care law that didn’t have a “public option’ provision. But when President Obama made a deal with the for-profit hospitals that the “public option” would not be in the final bill, labor leaders backed off and dropped this essential demand..

As a result the insurance industry will be handed tens of millions of new customers and still be in a strong position to raise premiums and other costs as they have been doing. To pay for the health-care plan, the government will squeeze $500 billion from Medicare and raise a series of taxes, including a 40 percent surtax .on “Cadillac” health plans.

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The criticisms that have been cited above deserve a response from the Obama administration and ardent Democratic supporters of the health-care overhaul. They represent the concerns of all people, especially those who are uninsured, and who face a disaster if members of their family become seriously ill, particularly in the next four years.

These are legitimate questions and have no connection with the unprincipled Republican political attacks on all progressive legislation.

We still think that a single-payer system, based on an improved Medicare plan is the best solution for the American people. Every modern industrial government provides health-care coverage to all its people, and so should the United States

Good health care is a universal human need. It should not be a source for private profit.—Harry Kelber.

LaborTalk (55) will be posted here on Thursday, April 13, 2010 and on our two web sites: www.laboreducator.org and www.laborsvoiceforchange.org.