On the House Bill on Healthcare
Statement by Rose Ann DeMoro, Executive Director
California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee
Of all the torrent of words that followed House passage of its version of healthcare reform legislation in early November, perhaps the most misleading were those comparing it to enactment of Social Security and Medicare.
Sadly no. Social Security and Medicare were both federal programs guaranteeing respectively pensions and health care for our nation’s seniors, paid for and administered by the federal government with public oversight and public accountability.
While the House bill, and its Senate counterpart, do have several important reform components, along with many weaknesses, neither one comes close to the guarantees and the expansion of health and income security provided by Social Security or Medicare.
By contrast, if the central premise of Social Security and Medicare was a federal guarantee of health and retirement security, the main provision of the bills in Congress is a mandate requiring most Americans without health coverage to buy private insurance.
In other words, the principle beneficiary is not Americans’ health, but the bottom line of the insurance industry which stands to harvest tens of billions of dollars in additional profits ordered by the federal government. Or as Rep. Eric Massa of New York put it on the eve of the House vote, “at the highest level, this bill will enshrine in law the monopolistic powers of the private health insurance industry, period.”