By Patrick Martin in the USA:
What is behind the opposition to the Obama healthcare plan?
12 August 2009
President Obama’s proposed restructuring of the US healthcare system has come under ferocious attack over the past week. Right-wing activists, in many cases organized by groups affiliated with the Republican Party or financed by sections of the healthcare industry, turned out at town hall meetings to shout down Democratic congressmen or Obama aides. There have been death threats and some actual violence.
The right-wing attack combines hysterical distortion of the provisions of the Obama plan (frequently, and falsely, branded as “socialized medicine”) with an appeal to the concerns of wide layers of the American population who sense, quite correctly, that the healthcare restructuring being promoted in Washington will come at their expense and will benefit only the big corporate interests.
Chief among the distortions has been the claim, fostered most notably by former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, that the Obama plan promotes euthanasia and that millions of elderly people will be hauled before a federal “death panel” to decide whether paying for their healthcare was warranted based on their “level of productivity in society.”
The actual provision, Section 1323 of one version of legislation that has passed one committee in the House of Representatives, merely states that Medicare will now reimburse doctors who hold end-of-life counseling sessions for beneficiaries who want to know their options on hospice care, living wills, and similar services.
Palin, who resigned as governor of Alaska July 26 in order to pursue a national career as spokeswoman for the fascistic wing of the Republican Party, is appealing to the same Christian fundamentalist elements who mobilized around the case of Terri Schiavo in 2005.
The popular disaffection with the Obama healthcare plan goes much further, however, than the fanatical right-to-life constituency. The Obama administration has based its program for healthcare restructuring entirely on the argument that healthcare costs are bankrupting the US economy and that controlling and reducing these costs is essential. …
The real relationship of Obama and the Democrats to the insurance industry was far more accurately described by BusinessWeek magazine in its current cover story on healthcare “reform,” headlined, “The Health Insurers Have Already Won.” The magazine details how UnitedHealthGroup, the largest US health insurer, has used its influence in Washington, particularly with conservative congressional Democrats in the “Blue Dog” caucus and Obama advisers like former senator Tom Daschle, to effectively dictate the parameters of the healthcare legislation moving through Congress.
“The industry has already accomplished its main goal of at least curbing, and maybe blocking altogether, any new publicly administered insurance program that could grab market share from the corporations that dominate the business,” BusinessWeek wrote approvingly. UnitedHealthCare, Aetna and Wellpoint have “also achieved a secondary aim of constraining the new benefits that will become available to tens of millions of people who are currently uninsured. That will make the new customers more lucrative to the industry.”
See also here.
See also photo here.
This American’s Experience of Britain’s Healthcare System: here.
It probably comes as no surprise that conservative cable network Fox News opposes health reform. In addition to some of its major personalities promoting disruptions and even violence at congressional town hall meetings, the guests and commentators invited to appear on Fox News programs seem to overwhelmingly oppose health reform as well, according to a recent study by watchdog group Media Matters for America: here.
United States: Industry-backed opponents of healthcare reform react with racism, violence: here.