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Donna Smith

Donna Smith, American SiCKO, is executive director of the Health Care for All Colorado Foundation

June 28th, 2012 2:07 PM

Pallor or Power, Patients or Consumers: Which Model Do We Want?

It’s a big day.  And the corporate model for healthcare in America just triumphed over our humanity.  The corporate Supreme Court honored all of its masters mightily in upholding the position that patients are consumers, taxes are bad, and full steam ahead on a healthcare system that includes a bailed-out private health insurance market.  Ouch.

I’ve been saying all week as the nurses tour with their Medicare for all bus through California that the Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act would be the classic “heads I win, tails you lose,” scenario.  And so it was.  The mandate is upheld and the private health insurance market is in the money with millions and millions of new customers.  The Court upheld that mandate based on tax law, not commerce provisions, so the right also gets to shout from the rooftops about the revenuers coming to get you and me and the evils of big government.  Then the one provision of the law – the Medicaid expansions – that the Court does target is the public portion of the law.  Perfect corporate court ruling.  Not an activist court for the people but a very activist court for profits.

As the nurses of National Nurses United/California Nurses Association have heard from patients all along our tour, the suffering for healthcare in America is not isolated to the uninsured but shared by those with inadequate insurance or coverage that allows insurance companies to put profit before people.  Real people hurting for real healthcare.  We are patients not consumers.

Medicare for all for life is the way to stop the insanity and begin controlling the escalating costs and the trauma.  We visited Stockton yesterday where the city has just declared bankruptcy and announced that retirees would lose their health coverage.  There was a pallor hanging over Stockton, and nothing the Supreme Court said today changes that reality.

We could look to Massachusetts where Romneycare (Chapter 58 passed when Mitt Romney was the governor) has seen health costs soar, bankruptcies continue and the corporate control of healthcare intensifies.  There we would see the nation’s future before us under the ruling we had today or under any other corporate plan that does not recognize healthcare as a right and a public good.

So, what will we be all about?  I say, the nurses say, let’s be about improving and expanding Medicare to all for life.  Let’s move beyond the din of this moment and rise up together.  Our power is enough to offset the all the crazy posturing.

Some elected officials had been worried about today and were saying they wanted the nation to begin thinking about Medicare for all.  But we cannot wait for them to hedge their political bets or for the next the next election cycle.  And this will not be won until we stand shoulder to shoulder with the nurses who say there is a better way – Medicare for all, for life -- a single standard of high quality care for all for life.  In America.  Now.  It really is about people, about patients and about power.

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