workers’ control in the health-care system

Mike Levine discusses how we can go beyond the hierarchical form of the National Health Service. The author has spent most of his working life as an NHS researcher.

While the National Health Service is remarkably successful in treating ill people, it is under threat of being opened up to international free markets. Both Labour and Tory/Lib Dem parties seem hell bent on this. The problem with private health providers is that they cannot make a profit out of treating any but the richer part of society unless they are subsidised.

on life support: the NHS is under attack. what is our alternative for how healthcare should be run?

The belief that a health service based upon market systems is more likely than a publicly planned one to lead to a decent healthy life for everyone, is completely unfounded. There is no evidence for it and comparison of the NHS with, say, the USA or European countries shows that Britain spends less in terms of a proportion of GDP for a service which is both good and equally available to everyone. Continue reading “workers’ control in the health-care system”

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obamacare: the nuns strike back

by Ernie Haberkern
Berkeley, California

The Health Care Reform bill has finally made it through the archaic legislative labyrinth our slave-owning founding fathers left us. Our modern corporate capitalists have found this unrepresentative system as useful as the slave owners did. One of features of the system is that it facilitates behind-closed-doors dealing that makes it extremely difficult for the average voter, or even the fairly well-informed voter, to find out what exactly the effect of the legislation will actually be. In fact, the result is usually so complicated that it often has consequences unforeseen and unintended by the authors of the legislation.

So what does this ‘reform’ actually amount to? In the first place, there is no regulation of the cost of drugs. In particular, the current twelve year monopoly granted to companies for brand name drugs remains in effect. This deal was made last August and in return the pharmaceutical industry, which played a major role in the defeat of Bill Clinton’s attempt to pass a health care bill, actively lobbied in favor of Obama’s plan. Continue reading “obamacare: the nuns strike back”

anger over obama healthcare bill creates uncertain future

Jane Slaughter looks at the US healthcare debate and the Democrats’ defeat in this week’s Massachusetts senate vote (from Labor Notes)

A Massachusetts local union president called it before the January 19 vote for senator: “I’ve never seen this much anger at the Democrats from union people,” said Jeff Crosby, president of a General Electric factory local near Boston, as he prepared a last-minute leaflet to hand out in the plant. “It’s worse than NAFTA.”

Top union leaders had bargained a compromise slowing down the health care benefits tax President Obama insisted on, but it was not enough to placate union members—and others—infuriated that Obama had broken his campaign promise not to tax benefits. Continue reading “anger over obama healthcare bill creates uncertain future”

barack obama’s first year in charge

by Ernie Haberkern
from Berkeley, California

The enormous enthusiasm that the election of the bright, well-spoken, African American woke in the liberal left is fading fast. Of course, much of that enthusiasm was a result of the justified revulsion provoked by the Cheney-Bush presidency and as that bad memory fades liberals are forced to face the current reality. Continue reading “barack obama’s first year in charge”

yes, chris ann, obama is punking us

Ernie Haberkern writes on the row over healthcare reform in the USA

In a sense, the right wing tub-thumpers organized by the pharmaceutical and insurance companies through media hysterics like Russ Limbaugh and Sarah Palin, have done Barack Obama a favor. They have drawn attention away from what the administration is really doing by making stupid charges and turning their demonstrations into clown shows. It is easy enough to poke fun at Sarah Palin’s charge that a provision allowing doctors to be paid for advising elderly, ill patients about the possibility of setting up living wills, making clear to their loved ones what they would like done in the event they become incapacitated, amounts to setting up “death panels”. As the Republican Senator from Georgia who introduced the legislation, Jacob Isakson, put it the statement is “nuts”. But, then, what would you expect from Sarah Palin.

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Increasingly, however, the liberal center is beginning to voice concerns about where Obama is going. The headline of this article is based on an op-ed piece in The New York Times by Frank Rich titled “Is Obama Punking Us” in which he quotes a real estate broker from Virginia who voted for Obama, Chris Ann Cleland, as saying “I feel like I have been punked!” Continue reading “yes, chris ann, obama is punking us”