The Final Battle for Health Care Justice

Posted on July 19, 2009


Now comes the climactic battle for health-care justice in America. No one said it was going to be an easy fight. 

Many interests are united against health care for all Americans. A lot is at stake. Power and privilege, for sure, but mostly it’s about wealth. A whole lot of profit is siphoned off by the present health insurance system, with no value added. 

A lot of players, large and small, are enriched by inflated prices and unnecessary tests and procedures. Where does it say in the Constitution of the United States that every medical doctor must be wealthy? Where is it written that drug companies can operate as monopolies and set their own prices?

The forces for justice and change are led by President Barack Obama, Sen. Ted Kennedy in perhaps the last battle of his life, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, and many other Democrats. On the side of health care justice are the nurses, the physicians assistants, the poor and the middle classes, the unemployed, the old and the young. And many medical doctors also have come to believe that their freedom to practice medicine will be enhanced by health insurance reform.

Opponents of health insurance reform — mostly Republicans — are reduced to the lame question: “Why are they in such a hurry?” “Why can’t they wait a while longer for justice?” Those questions were also the last retreat of the segregationists who opposed the civil rights bills in the 1960s. Once the case for equal rights for all American, black and white, had been established, the last line of defense was, “What’s the big hurry?” The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. answered that question in his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail.” President Barack Obama answers the same question now from the White House.

We can’t wait because we’ve already waited too long. There is no good reason to delay justice and equality. As many have said before, “Justice delayed is justice denied.”

The committees of the U.S. House of Representatives have finished their work. The House is ready and able to pass a health care bill, including the “public option” that the president and the majority of Americans demand.

The dysfunctional U.S. Senate is wobbling and wavering without the leadership of the two grand old men of the Senate, Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, and Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia. Democrats must rally ’round and pass health care reform. Yes, steamroll the obstructionist Republicans, if necessary. A majority of 51 or more Democrats, and two or three sane Republicans, must act this year.

When Sen. Kennedy and Sen. Byrd are wheeled into the Senate to cast their votes for health care reform, woe to any Democratic senator who fails to stand with them and with President Obama and the majority of the American people.  —  Bernie Hayden