Actual socialist weighs in on "socialist" health bill

Party co-chair slams healthcare reform

Published March 22, 2010 6:40PM (EDT)

If you listen to damn near everyone on the right these days, you'll hear that the healthcare reform bill that the House passed last night is "socialism," or "creeping socialism" at the very least. In reality, that claim just doesn't hold up. Just ask a socialist, like Billy Wharton, who's the co-chair of the Socialist Party USA.

The Socialist Party just e-mailed reporters a statement from Wharton in which he slams the bill, saying it's not reform but is "instead a corporate restructuring of the American healthcare system designed to enhance the profits of private health insurance companies disguised with the language of reform."

I'd say we should alert Glenn Beck about this, but I have a horrible vision of that leading to some new conspiracy theory about the White House getting Wharton to release this statement as a false flag sort of thing, and some very convoluted chalkboard drawings.

The full press release:

Co-chair of the Socialist Party USA, Billy Wharton, opposes the healthcare bill passed yesterday by the House of Representatives and scheduled to be signed into law by President Barack Obama on Tuesday. Wharton's opposition is based on the belief that this bill is not a reform. Instead, it is a corporate restructuring of the health insurance industry created to protect the profit margins of private insurance companies.

The bill passed by the House yesterday would mandate all Americans to purchase health insurance coverage or face a fine. It would also create health insurance exchanges, an idea crafted by the right-wing Heritage Foundation, where people would purchase insurance from private companies. Those not eligible for Medicaid but who still could not afford to purchase insurance would receive public funds from the federal government to purchase bare bones coverage insurance plans from private insurers.

Wharton opposes this restructuring on the grounds that the mandates allow private insurers to use the coercive power of the state to enhance their private profits. Insurance credits will serve as a public subsidy to private companies. It is yet another case of public money that could be used for necessary social programs being funneled towards companies that engage in practices that are abusive and detrimental to the overall society. He believes the bill is also a demonstration of how deeply corporate lobbyists and campaign contributions have infected the country's political system.

"This is not a healthcare reform bill," says Wharton, "It is instead a corporate restructuring of the American healthcare system designed to enhance the profits of private health insurance companies disguised with the language of reform"

Instead, Wharton believes that public funds would be better spent in creating a national single-payer system. Democratic socialists see such a system of open access to care as one part of a larger transition toward making healthcare a guaranteed human right for all. Wharton calls for people to take power into their own hands by supporting the demand for single-payer health insurance and by conducting a red and green rebellion at the voting booth and in the streets to claim our human rights.

Wharton encourages people to visit the website of the Socialist Party USA to gain more information about the struggle for healthcare and the organization's broader vision of a democratic socialist society.


By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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