Short-Changing the Health Care Debate … For Now

The outright capitulation of Democrats in Congress, as well as the so-called “progressive” community of activists both inside Washington DC and around the country, should come as no surprise; it is simply another manifestation of the status quo – policies, compromises, and failures meant to salute the corporate goings-on in that city.

This, of course, is a manifestation that started decades ago as corporate moneys began to – and continued to – influence characters selected by the “left” to run for local, regional, and national offices. The grossest recent display of a Democrat suckling from these corporate coffers came during the Clinton years of NAFTA; failed health reform; and deregulation of industry sector after industry sector – including the allowance of negligent conglomeration of banking entities and investment houses, the foundation upon which the economic downturn lies, and the downright suffering we normal folks are struggling with, and dying for, on a daily basis.

Observations of Al Gores, Joseph Leibermans, Dianne Feinsteins, Nancy Pelosis, Barack Obamas ,and Max Baucuses since further prove the point: just because a candidate has a big fat (D) following his or her name doesn’t meant his or her scruples are any more inline with the American public then those hairy, scary R’s on the other side of the aisle.

It has been stated time and time again, and we may collectively repeat the sentiment today – with more poignant evidence than ever. Democrats and Republicans have destroyed – together – the notion that our government is “Of the people, For the People, and By the People”.

It does not matter to the power brokers on either side of the aisle that poll after poll in the last several months demonstrated overwhelming support from the American public for Single Payer health care. It does not matter to these same power brokers that a consortium of over 15,000 health care workers and physicians support single payer legislation – and want it passed sooner rather than later – in order to prevent another death cycle of 45,000 Americans who are uninsured or under-insured. Americans have no access to anything but emergency care at best, and not even that for fear of falling into the trap of immediate bankruptcy following a visit to their local emergency room to deal with a situation that could have easily been prevented with adequate care prescribed much earlier in the individual’s life had that individual ( and the thousands of them ) been able to visit a doctor without the discriminatory factor of wealth being a determining cause for their inability to schedule even a regular, preventative-type visit, to a favorite, qualified physician.

It does not matter because these power brokers are in the pockets of the corporations that simply want to continue to dictate who they will cover, and under what conditions they will provide coverage, in order to satisfy particularly well-refined formulas to maximize profits driven by our illnesses. They need us to be sick (but not too sick, initially) to siphon dollars and expand their bottom lines towards record quarterly and yearly profits, boost the resumes of the drug companies they actively pimp for in doctors’ offices after doctors’ offices, and ultimately drive those of us that are trying to keep up into a stage of financial ruin, without any long term measurable health improvement status.

And then once we cannot pay, they drop of us from coverage, force use into emergency care (if any at all), bankruptcy, and eventual death – each degrading step that could have been prevented or otherwise curtailed utilizing a single payer system.

So this fall we saw the demise of the Weiner Amendment because some on the supposed “left” believe it was a flawed strategy to have a debate about single payer on the House floor. What could have been a fine litmus test as to how the movement for real reform is moving forward, has now been derailed from the “left” – by Democrats – much to the delight of Republicans who have no intention of fixing a broken system, as well as to the delight of the corporate dollars that will continue to flow so we plebians on the ground, working so hard to guarantee the right to secure universal health care rather than keep it as privilege for the wealthy minority alone, will continue to flounder, and – yes – die. Daily.

This is not a government Of the People, For the People, or By the People.

This is a government for Aetna, by BlueCross Blue Shield, and from Cigna. Follow the contributions. Watch the votes. And if you are still alive after the abysmal bill makes the light of day, know that continued mobilization for comprehensive health care, should, must, and will continue – until we have a civilized Single Payer health care system like every other industrialized nation in the world.

Every human being in this country deserves adequate health care. Not emergency care, not a policy document provided by a corporation seeking to profit from your ill health, but a clear, clean system where preventive care is a priority and ability to pay (wealth) is not a discriminatory factor.

What we do not need is a corrupt ruling class of Democrats and Republicans dictating to us what we should “want, accept, or otherwise compromise”. What we do not then need to do is meekly follow through on that acceptance, like sheep heading to slaughter.

“Of the people, for the people, by the people”. It is a simple concept. Or was, until the two major parties agreed behind closed doors and on the floors of limited debate in the halls of Congress as dictated by their massive corporate campaign sponsors and paymasters.

It is well beyond time we seize the day, and advocate and demonstrate loudly and without compromise what we deserve. Health Care for all. Now.

Visit PNHP, Unions for Single Payer, Single Payer Action and Health Care Now!

Get engaged, donate, and do your part (and more) to get past the capitulation on the left, the brain dead stonewalling on the right, and disgusting display of lobbying on the part of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries that refuse to recognize health care as a right for human beings in this great country of ours.

GREGORY VICKREY works as a consultant for a variety of nonprofits. He can be reached at:

Gregory Vickrey is a consultant in the environmental and political arenas and may be reached at: