Editor’s note: The following are excerpts from a speech by Maureen Cruise, RN, Director, Health Care for All, (L.A.) at the California Progressive Alliance in Berkeley in January.
Our current dysfunctional health insurance system is not just broken—it is destructive, dangerous and deadly.
Insurance is not health care. It is a predatory business of exploitation and extraction of profit, siphoning our money away from delivery of our care. The primary beneficiary is Wall Street. This is disaster capitalism in its most successful disguise.
The US is #1 in preventable deaths, 47th in the world for quality and access, 76th in maternal health. Life expectancy is diminishing. Deep disparities are systemic. People go without necessary treatments and lifesaving medicines due to cost. Over 50% of Go-Fund-Me pleas are people begging strangers for money online, so they don’t die.
Single payer health care for all now is the only real solution. We have serious opposition. We know our obvious opposition are insurance, hospitals, Pharma, medical device corporations and the banks, real estate, credit and debt industries.
But our most insidious and effective opponents are our false friends, funded by corporate donations to undermine real reform.
Money to obstruct single payer efforts flows to foundations, universities, non-profits, think tanks, media, government commissions, research Institutes and of course to political parties and politicians. Front groups tasked with maintaining the status-quo of profit extraction, confuse the public and divert our advocacy away from single payer. We are awash in these groups. Foundations funded by Wall Street industries award grants to doctor organizations, nurse groups, ethnic identities groups, social justice non-profits, anti-poverty champions claiming to be with us. Single payer may be on their website . . . but these groups sabotage it with strategies of disinformation, delay and diversion.
Posing as “compassionate” and “ethical” allies, they are subtle critics seeking to control the narrative with “concerns.” ‘We need more details! Isn’t this too complicated? Is this too massive a shift? People really like their insurance! How will we ever pay for it? We cannot do this all at once.’ Conceding power to the status quo, they avoid a genuine examination of solutions. The financial benefits of single payer are disappeared from the conversation as if they don’t exist.
Our current situation is an emergency. We must remove insurance. We must eliminate the profit motive. Every dime should be spent on our needs. Legislation is the first step, not the end of a convoluted road map. The elements necessary for a successful system are based on establishing health care as a human right: for all lives to be valued and protected equally.
#1. The insurance industry must be eliminated. Remove profiteering from the system.