Donna Smith, American SiCKO, is executive director of the Health Care for All Colorado Foundation
I was listening to a news report this morning and hearing yet another wealthy person ramble on about their ideas on social and economic justice. It seems to me that unless and until working class and poor people are truly leading the movements for economic justice and equality, it will be hard to engage many of them to follow wealthy prophets who claim to know more than they do about the realities of what needs fixing and how best to accomplish the desired change. In the area of health care economic justice, I think this is especially true.
Let me give an example of what bothers me about the wealthy deciding my health care reform fate. I was in a discussion the other night about physician owned dialysis clinics and the like when one reform leader stated that those who have taken advantage of the currently legal ways to make money in our health care system cannot really be faulted for doing so. I don't agree with that at all. Just because something isn't expressly forbidden by law doesn't mean it's right or just. Having too much self-interest financially in a health care venture is an open invitation to send patients for care and assessment who may or may not actually need that care. But the leader I was listening to had already dismissed my viewpoint because what could I possibly know about the doings of business in health care and how much it costs? How could a working class person like me offer an opinion much less lead?
Now, I do not believe every well-heeled person is incapable of the kind of energy and commitment required to lead a working class and poor persons' health care and economic movement, but I do think it's harder to swallow the idea that they are fighting in the full interests of the classes they seek to lead. Nurses and other working health professionals certainly can lead, as can patients, in terms of fighting for health care economic justice. How about the hospital housekeeping staff? Why not?
I want to have access to a single standard of high quality care without financial barrier -- improved and expanded Medicare for all for life. And I know why I want it. Because it helps all people -- working class, poor and even not so poor. It gives us all an equal shot at a healthy life that isn't marred by the greedy, for-profit drive of the perfectly lawful abuses of the US health care system. I want health care justice, and it would be great to have people like me in terms of experience and economic background help lead this nation there.
February 20, 2014 -- Today's count of the health care dead and broke for profit in the U.S.:
The 2014, to date, U.S. medical-financial-
industrial -complex system dead: 6,150
The 2014, to date, U.S. health care system bankrupt: 98,900
** These figures are calculated based on the Harvard University studies on excess deaths in the U.S. due to lack of insurance coverage or the ability to pay for needed health care, and the Harvard University study that calculated the high percentage of personal bankruptcies attributable to medical crisis and debt in the U.S. 123 people die daily due to lack of coverage or cash to pay for care; 1,978 go bankrupt every day due to medical crisis and debt though the majority had insurance at the time their illness or injury occurred. This statistic is also based on the 1.2 million bankruptcies in the U.S. in 2012, according to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, and calculating those medically-related bankruptcies from that number.http://www.healthcareforallcolorado.org/endorse_right_to_health_care
Follow Donna "American SiCKO" Smith's blog at: http://donnasicko.blogspot.com/
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