Biden expected to take sick leave over privatized health care
While Democratic Party lawmakers are congratulating themselves on passing a new health care spending agenda, it seems they’re conveniently ignoring the elephant in the room: the health care system. privatized health care. In December 2022, President Joe Biden pleased Democrats and Republicans alike when he signed the $1.7 trillion omnibus law Project. Eight hundred and fifty-eight billion dollars of the package was spent on defense spending, while $773 billion was earmarked for discretionary spending.
These distributions come with reviews. Let’s not forget that outrage over America’s excessive defense spending is not new: movements such as the anti-war protests of the 1970s and the peace marches of today show the discontent many Americans. It’s no secret that the United States has always had a soft spot for arming our military with more money than necessary. In 2021, for example, the National Defense Authorization Act authorized $740.5 billion for defense spending, $2 billion more than the pro-military Trump administration had requested. However, my goal is not to quarrel over the ethical and logistical considerations of military spending. This spending package is revolutionary, and not for militant reasons: it helped push through seven new health care policies at once. Let’s first discuss the benefits of these policies.
One of the main achievements of the spending package is a 4.5% cut Medicare payments, which provide some relief to struggling families. Another policy is a value-based care premium for US physicians, which helps increase the level of care physicians provide to patients under Medicare. A third notable policy imposes a deadline for Medicare corrective action. A fourth is $9.2 billion in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to nurture public health. The package also includes a two-year extension of telehealth flexibilities and new mental health policies that increase funding for professionals and expand the growth of rural hospital programs. From the outside, it looks like these seven policies show great dedication to the well-being of Americans. These policies are certainly important, but they would not be necessary if we had an equitable health system from the birth of our nation.
But what does the average American consider a just health care system? A Pew Research Center investigation found that 60% of Americans believe it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that its citizens have health care coverage. At Reuters–Ipsos survey found that Medicare for All is supported by more than 70% of Americans today. It is difficult to understand why a proposed system with overwhelming support and focus on the betterment of human life has not been instituted in America. The answer is unfortunately simple: privatized health care is strongly supported and protected.
Money talks and the healthcare industry is big business. Private insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and other healthcare entities have deep pockets and a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, even if it means denying millions of Americans access to quality care. But here’s the thing: A healthcare system that prioritizes profits over people is not only morally bankrupt, it’s economically unsustainable in the long run. The Economic Policy Institute has published a report which analyzes how privatized health reduces employment growth and therefore overall economic growth. Privatization leads to cost-cutting measures that often eliminate workers’ jobs, and the health care system is not immune to this phenomenon. A unique danger that privatization poses to health care is consolidation, which occurs when large companies acquire smaller companies. This leads to massive job losses as less profitable positions are eliminated or their importance is drastically reduced. Conversely, a public health system that invests in preventive care, early intervention and public health initiatives not only improve overall health outcomes, but also reduces long-term health care costs and boosts economic productivity.
Plus, you might think that Democrats and Republicans have nothing in common, but their love of lobbying for healthcare industry money unites them. Health industry giants are flooding both sides with cash in return for political favors and legislative support. Democrats have a flow Pfizer funding coming and Republicans have powerful support lobbyist groups such as the American Medical Association And US health insurance plans. By supporting privatized health care policies and initiatives, the money goes to the shareholders who lobby the politicians in the first place. It is a vicious cycle that is protected by political and cooperative benefactors and subsidized by taxpayers who are instead supposed to be represented and healed.
This brings us to the 2024 elections. potential that Biden is not seeking re-election in 2024 is unsurprising given his upright among the political spectrum and the people. His health care policies, featured in the omnibus, have come under scrutiny from both left and right, with critics saying they are only aimed at the center. Despite his attempts to call to progressives, Biden’s policies perpetuate economic inequality and continue to deny care to low-income people. When examining his position on health care, Biden is simply disguising himself as a progressive to appeal to the left, while continuing to push the same health care agenda that continues to stratify wealth and hurt marginalized communities. He has no real intentions of change and will therefore continue to be one of the protectors of privatized health care.
In an ideal world for supporters of universal health care like me, Biden would not run for re-election. Instead, he would focus on slowing down support for progressive politicians and candidates campaigning on these issues. This incremental approach will allow the movement towards equitable health care to flourish without significant backlash from those who resist sweeping change. By implementing these policies one by one, the benefits of each policy can be demonstrated to the public, thereby gaining greater support for the overall goal of healthcare for all. Going back to the realist world, I realize that his potential not to run in the 2024 election is probably not because he wants progressives to implement health care for all. However, this presents an opportunity for progressive candidates to initiate change within our health care system.
The $1.7 trillion omnibus bill made notable strides toward equitable health care and garnered positive support for Biden — something he lacked during his tenure. These policies in particular support the health of more Americans than any policy before. Yet the privatized healthcare system continues to serve as an unchallenged beast. This institution will continue to prevent the standardization and frequency of progressive health care legislation and instead favor the consolidation of the wealth of private corporations. Privatized health care may be great for profits, but it’s bad for our health. It’s time to stop protecting the private health care sector and start investing in a healthier and more equitable future for all Americans. People should be valued rather than profits.
Rachelle Evans is a Opinion Columnist and can be reached at [email protected].
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