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Vol. 73/No. 37      September 28, 2009

‘Health reform’ plan
aimed against workers
Measures target abortion
rights, immigrants
(lead article)
While Congressional Democrats and Republicans have not succeeded in reaching a compromise to ensure passage of a health-care “reform” bill, there is bipartisan agreement that any new law should undermine both immigrant rights and women’s right to choose abortion.

In his September 10 speech to the U.S. Congress, President Barack Obama said that “illegal” immigrants should be denied coverage and “no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions.”

The twin attacks on undocumented workers and women’s rights will be included in the leading reform bill, drafted by Sen. Maxwell Baucus, the Democrat who heads the Senate Finance Committee. Five other members of the committee, including three Republicans, have been working with Baucus to come up with language both parties can accept.

Obama told Congress, “Under my plan, individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance—just as most states require you to carry auto insurance.” Republican Sen. Charles Grassley has said he wants to reconsider this approach. The Baucus proposal would fine a family without coverage up to $3,800 a year.

The health-care system “is placing an unsustainable burden on taxpayers,” Obama said. His plan, he argued, would “slow the growth of health-care costs” and expand coverage for “Americans.”

If his plan is passed, he said, it would be against the law for insurance companies to deny coverage because of a pre-existing condition. Insurance companies would have to cover routine checkups and preventive care.

Under the guise of eliminating “waste and fraud,” and “unwarranted subsidies” to insurance companies, Obama wants to eliminate “Medicare Advantage,” which would cut as much as $177 billion. Enacted in 2003 it allows some 10.2 million senior citizens to use Medicare funds to buy private insurance plans. This would be an opening wedge for more attacks on Medicare and Medicaid.

The day after Obama’s speech to Congress, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that the president planned to take anti-immigrant measures that are even more restrictive than those demanded by some conservatives. Obama will oppose letting undocumented immigrants buy health insurance through government “purchasing exchanges” set up to lower insurance costs—even from private companies.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau there are more than 46 million people without health insurance in the United States. But Obama in his speech referred only to “more than 30 million American citizens who cannot get coverage,” leaving out both undocumented immigrants and those who are permanent residents or have work permits.

In a recent editorial the New York Times, while backing exclusion of the undocumented from government subsidized benefits, opposed attempts to prevent them from purchasing insurance through the exchange.

But the Times did not base its position on concern for the health and well-being of undocumented workers. Instead it asked, “In the case of an epidemic, like swine flu, should illegal immigrants go untreated so they can infect legal residents and American citizens?”  
Ruling out abortion funding
On September 13 U.S. health secretary Kathleen Sebelius was interviewed by ABC news correspondent George Stephanopoulus. He asked if Obama “will go beyond what we have seen in the House and explicitly rule out any public funding for abortion?”

“That’s exactly what the president said and that’s what he intends that the bill he signs will do,” Sebelius replied.

Obama has also said that federal conscience laws will remain in place. These give doctors and other health care providers the “right” to refuse requests for medical treatment, such as prescribing contraception or performing abortions.

In spite of claims by rightist opponents of the bill that it would promote socialized medicine in the United States, Obama has made it clear that what he wants to do is reinforce the capitalist market in health care.

“I have no interest in putting insurance companies out of business,” he said in Congress.
Related articles:
D.C. protest opposes cops enforcing immigration law
How U.S. rulers eroded abortion rights after 1973
Dominican Republic: antiabortion laws protested  
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