April 2, 2010 Leave a comment
It has been said that since the United States’ welfare is the most austere in the developed world that relative and absolute poverty is massively reduced, but this is not the clearest picture, taken by itself. To get a fuller account one should refer to, at least, the healthcare situation. 50 million remain uninsured, 20 million underinsured, nearly 50,000 people die a year from preventable illnesses and millions have begun to avoid healthcare as best as possible so as not to run up personal bills.
President Obama set to rectify this anomalie on the 23rd of March 2010 with the signing of the health reform into law. But it has not received unanimous praise from all that champion progression in politics.
Take for example Billy Wharton, co-chair of the Socialist Party of the USA.
It is his opinion that the bill does not go far enough, but, further, it actually benefits the insurance companies the bill was set up to undercut. “Nationalisation” he notes, “is not in the playbook of Timothy Geithner [US Treasury Secretary and cod-feminist] and his team” who Wharton accuses of supporting “costly, temporary measures that can easily be dismantled should the economy pick up”.
The bill mandates every person (or, rather, around 95% of Americans) to be insured, and for every family not on Medicaid – means tested health program for eligible individuals and families with low incomes and resources – receive public funds from the federal government to purchase what Wharton has called “bare bones” coverage insurance plans from private insurers.
Because the reform is not into a single-payer system (like a nationalised, government subsidised system) Wharton suggests that this mandate, among other things, enhances private profit, and is therefore not as radical as it has been promoted to be, particularly by the American right wing media.
But campaigners for a single-payer system were present in the debate – though they were the subject of some rather interesting back downs.
Dennis Kucinich, congressman for the 10th district in Ohio, saw faults in the healthcare reform – and went about voicing his opinion about these faults – that is until Obama put pressure on him to modify his stance and vote “yes” by visiting the district Kucinich represents.
Further, Representative John Coyners from Michigan, sponsor of the House Resolution 676 – a bill to fund a national health programme without private health insurers – caved in, also allegedly after pressure.
Wharton also goes a step further into understanding why a real reform did not take place; it is his further contention that part of the bill was actually written by the private insurers lobby, and for this reason Obama chose to appease private insurance companies.
It is hard to know where a lot of Wharton’s conjecture emenates from, but certainly he is right that the health reform is not the truly radical escape from the pitfalls of private health insurance, as it had been promoted as.
The Fabian Society are soon have a publication called What New Labour could learn from Obama and recently the Next Left blog released an entry, guest written by Nick Anstead and Will Straw, entitled What British Politics Can Learn From Obama. There is probably a great wealth of things to learn on ways of campaigning; of feeding the image of change to a mass audience, on and offline, but as for health services, Britain should – and, fortunately, will – not learn anything from ObamaCare.