Voodoo Health Care

Article excerpt

Of the many disheartening results of the current struggle for health care reform, surely the most poignant has been the loss of the last opportunity in this century to democratize medical care and expand human rights in that wide area where Americans are most vulnerable. None of the bills now the subject of what must laughingly be described as "debate." nor the equally risible "compromises" likely to develop, are blueprints for significant change. For all practical purposes, the "health reform moment" that appeared three years ago is over.

Some of the bills now before Congress contain benefits for people in dire straits. Most legislators seem ready to approve protections of one sort or another for insurance seekers with the dread "previously existing conditions" and for people fired from their jobs. There's lots of payoff to medical schools and hospital centers and most of all to the giant insurance companies, drug manufacturers and health care conglomerates that have been metastasizing in wealth and power ever since it became clear that the Clintons would not interfere with their activities. Not since the era of the great industrial trusts, or the merger mania of the Reagan years, has corporate America been on such an explosive binge.

It's hard to imagine that any solid constituency demands health reform as it is now packaged. The un- and underinsured are not mobilized to fight for an equitable s stem. The Clintonian middle class i.e. the struggling working class) will surely suffer under a new system, and those businesses that did give real reform its greatest support now realize that the operative plans do little or nothing to lower their costs. …