Abortion & Health Bill
NO NUKES, AGAIN
Gay Marriage in DC
What Did We Get?
El Salvador Mining
Science & Art
M*A*S*H & Murder
Hell & High Water
The Earth Shook
Zaps - 05-10
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Health Care: What Did We Get? Where Do We Go?
A year ago health care was in crisis. Americans were dying at a rate of 45,000 per year due to lack of access to health care. Change was urgently needed. Because we have extensive experience with health systems, we could have had a very informed debate. The U.S. has a market-based system (private insurance-controlled health care), a single payer system (Medicare), and a socialist system (the Veterans Administration). We could have asked which worked best, which covered the most people, which was least expensive, and which produced the best health outcomes. This fact-based discussion could have resulted in an efficient, effective national health system, moving the U.S. up from its current dismal ranking of 37th in the world.
But that debate never happened. In the end, we got the pre-ordained decision: market-based health insurance was further enshrined with all its administrative and bureaucratic costs, its unfairness and inability to provide health care to all.
Over the last year, Democratic and Republican partisans in and out of government made the debate on health a misleading one. False distractions like "death panels" and "a government takeover" kept the right wing and Republicans fomenting and angry when neither was occurring. On the left, the public option, always miniscule and never really on the table, was the primary focus of non-profits aligned with the Democratic Party.
Republicans continue to proclaim socialism and a government takeover of health care, while Democrats are high-fiving each other and proclaiming they've achieved the equivalent of Social Security, the Civil Rights Acts, and Medicare. However, when the fog lifts, we will see the system has not changed much: health care will still be dominated by profit-driven insurance companies; more public money will go to executive salaries and private industry profits; tens of millions of people will remain uninsured; and costs will continue to increase.
The centerpiece of the reform—subsidizing the insurance industry, forcing Americans to buy their overpriced product, and more deeply embedding the insurance market's control of health care—was barely debated. Only after passage of the bill is a debate beginning on whether this is within the constitutional power of government.
Of course, the corporate media are behind it, not surprisingly since it is in the interests of corporate power. But never before has the federal government required Americans to buy a product. Where does this precedent lead? Should Americans be forced to buy a retirement plan from JPMorgan or Bank of America to ensure retirement security?
The U.S. already gives hundreds of billions annually in corporate welfare through crony capitalism, disguising it with "free market" rhetoric, not even counting the massive bailouts of last year. This new form of corporate welfare will extend the big business/big government connection in new ways and further the pay-to-play politics of Washington, DC, with more corporate money polluting politics.
The new health-care bill forces Americans to buy a corporate product that is overpriced and flawed. Americans could be required to pay up to 9.5 percent of their income on insurance that will only cover an average of 70 percent of their medical expenses. In addition, insurance companies are allowed to deny care with no court review of that decision. As a result, someone with insurance, paying an expensive premium, could still find themselves bankrupt.
What Did We Get?
There were some attempts to fix insurance abuse, but every fix had a poison pill added by the insurance industry. A good example is that the insurance industry will no longer be able to deny care for pre-existing illness. The poison pill is that the industry can charge people who do not meet their wellness guidelines double what they charge others. And, if you are older, they can charge triple. So, while you cannot be denied insurance, will you be able to afford it?
We also got expansion of coverage. The largest source of expansion is Medicaid with 16 million more people covered. But Medicaid is woefully underfunded, paying doctors such poor reimbursements that many refuse Medicaid patients. And Medicaid does not cover all health needs. States are already stretched thin trying to pay for Medicaid, resulting in more cuts to services and lower payments to doctors. The federal government's financial assistance ends in 2016.
The other expansion of coverage depends on forcing people to buy insurance. For many people, the penalty in increased taxes will be more affordable than health insurance. Many businesses may also find that it is much cheaper to pay a small fine than to provide insurance. Without a public option, more people will be pushed into the individual insurance market where costs are rapidly increasing.
Perhaps the change that will have the most positive impact is one produced by Senator Bernie Sanders—the expansion of funding by $12.5 billion for community health centers, allowing them to double the patients they see. Community health centers are the foundation of primary care for residents of rural areas and inner cities, providing basic services such as blood and dental work for about 20 million U.S. residents.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Two detailed reviews of the bill have come from National Nurses United and Physicians for National Health Program, so I'm not going to review it here. Perhaps more important than the specifics is that, for the first time in U.S. history, the law codifies the view that all people should have access to health care. Sadly, this bill does not achieve that goal. Once fully implemented, it will leave 23 million (at best) without health insurance and tens of millions more with inadequate insurance because they are on Medicaid or their private insurance does not fully cover them.
What should real reform advocates do now? The first step is to know what we want. Public dollars should only go to health care, not to insurance expenses, profits, and bureaucracy. That means we should fight for a national health program based on expanded and improved Medicare for All so we can effectively provide care to everyone in the United States. There are already many strong organizations working for real reform: Health Care Now!, Physicians for National Health Program, Single Payer Action, National Nurses United, Progressive Democrats of America, and Prosperity Agenda. Polls consistently show majority support for a single payer national health program, so we are further along than many realize.
We need to build a foundation of broad-based education and an understanding that you cannot compromise with or effectively regulate the insurance industry. All the traditional activist tools have a role in the single payer movement: lobbying, litigation, voter initiatives, state-level reform, protest, civil resistance, and elections to achieve our goals. The single payer movement needs to challenge incumbents in primaries and general elections. The latter may be where we have more power. The movement must be independent of either political party.
One lesson we should learn from this year is we cannot count on any ally in Congress until we build a movement. Now that the Democrats have further enshrined the insurance industry, some will urge that we work within that framework to improve the law, but tinkering with the insurance industry is insufficient. Indeed, a particular spotlight needs to be kept on the insurance industry. Their behavior will not change with the new law. Single payer advocates need to continue to highlight their abuses, denials of care, excessive executive salaries, rapid increases in premiums and cutbacks in coverage. Tools like shareholder actions, boycotts, and divestiture need to be used. When abuses occur, the movement needs to use tactics like sit-ins at insurance companies to show that people are angry.
It is critical that the momentum of the movement that favors improved Medicare for All not be slowed by a law that protects the status quo, even if it's called reform. The task of providing health care to all as a birthright remains.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: email@example.com; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; email@example.com; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; email@example.com; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; email@example.com http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; email@example.com; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; firstname.lastname@example.org.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; email@example.com; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; email@example.com; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.