EDITORIAL Unity on health care

Two months ago, we wrote:

“We support “Medicare for All” as put forward in Rep. John Conyers’ HR 676. And we agree with advocates for a strong government health care plan as an essential part of any meaningful reform package. Aside from providing efficient, comprehensive coverage, it will force private insurers to compete in a way that pushes down costs for everyone. And it will demonstrate that health care can be liberated from the corporations that profit from illness. Thus it will be a giant step toward a national single-payer plan that puts health care before profits and gets rid of the bloated and wasteful private insurance companies altogether.”

And we warned:

“Winning a comprehensive public health insurance option this year will be a major battle. Health industry vested interests are fighting tooth-and-nail to hold on to their profit gravy train, at the expense of Americans’ health.”

Earlier this month, the giant private insurance, pharma and hospital lobby groups told President Obama they were on board with health care reform and promised to cut health care costs over the next 10 years to help pay for expanding coverage. Many questioned their sincerity and motives, seeing it as a ploy to buy their way into blocking a public option.

It only took a few days for the big-money lobby spokespeople to back off on their cost-cutting promises, claiming they were misquoted. Then, a couple days later, it was: yes we really do promise. Clearly, the corporate health industry (an oxymoron if ever there was one) is somewhat divided on what tactics to pursue to preserve their ill-gotten gains.

But the people’s movement for health care reform shouldn’t be divided or diverted.

Health care reform legislation is going to be passed and signed into law this fall. The focal point now is whether or not a public, Medicare-for-all type plan will be part of the package. Big Insurance, Big Pharma and the rest of the profit-laden health industry are pouring millions into “Swift boat” attacks on that public option. Progressives, health reform advocates, unions, workers, families — all of us need to come together now, mobilize, and deliver a strong united message to Congress: We want and need a public option.