July 1st, 2017

Here’s the ugly truth, if we as a nation really, really want to slash the cost of healthcare, efficiencies won’t get us there. The biggest waste in healthcare is profit. Full stop. As long as there is money to be made from human suffering, costs will remain high because lowering costs to consumers by reducing profit is anathema to corporations. We shouldn’t condemn corporations for seeking profit—that’s why they exist—anymore than we should damn rattlesnakes for having poisonous venom.

Snakes got to poison and corporations got to profit.

That reality, however, doesn’t mean We The People just sit back and suffer. No we take reasonable measures and precautions to mitigate the dangers of snakebites and we ought to do the same to rein-in corporations for the same reasons.

There are simply some portions of the social contract in which profit ought not to play any unregulated role and the Founders recognized that upfront in the Preamble to our Constitution. They wrote:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare [emphasis mine, JH], and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Our taxes pay for the common defense, our justice system, our police forces and they ought to also pay for universal healthcare which is the most basic element of our general welfare that I can conceive.

The stumbling block that we face is that there is a cadre of privelged pseudo-aristocrats, the .01 Percent, manning the barricade between We The People and our government. If we want our rights as set out in our Constitution, then We The People have to storm that barricade.

Matt Taibbi, reporting in Finally Everyone Agrees, Health Care Is a Human Right for Rolling Stone, writes:

Ideas like a single-payer system, or ending the antitrust exemption for insurance companies, would be obvious fixes. But when they came up during the Obamacare debate, they were dismissed as politically unfeasible and/or too costly. Because the United States will not do what other countries do as a matter of course—declare health care to be a universal human right and work backward from that premise—we are continually stuck with patchwork political solutions that protect insurance and pharmaceutical company profits while leaving masses of people uninsured.

The first step in storming the barricades is the recognition that healthcare is a basic human right, not a profit center. Taibbi concludes:

Health care is an absolute human right. On a policy level we already recognized this decades ago, during the height of the Reagan era, when the Emergency Medical and Treatment Labor Act made it illegal for public and private hospitals alike to turn patients away in an emergency. There is simply no moral justification for denying aid to a sick or dying person. Any country that does so systematically is not a country at all.


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