April 7, 2006

Massachusetts criminalizes the uninsured

Dear Senator Welch,*

I was astonished to hear of your interest in the new Massachusetts health insurance legislation, which essentially simply makes it illegal to be uninsured. It does not address the problems of our employment-based profit-driven system which wastes billions to deny care instead of providing it.

Every other country in the world considers health care a basic service like police and fire protection. Here, by a quirk of post-World War II history, it is not a right but beholden to employer beneficence. Massachusetts has enshrined the cruel greed and inefficiencies of our present system. It is not a "bipartisan compromise" but a craven sell-off.

Americans have had enough. They overwhelmingly want single-payer health care. We want to go to a doctor when we're sick, not to an accountant or tax office. We want to answer questions about our symptoms, not about whether we rent or own or what kind of car we drive.

The Vermont legislature, under your leadership, passed a much more worthy universal coverage bill last year. Unfortunately, under the threat of the governor's veto, it has been taken apart and watered down. Instead of making the governor's rejection the issue, you have made tiny -- almost irrelevant -- steps and compromise the goal. The result is that all Democrats have to offer is the same package of nonsolutions that Republicans support. This may be necessary to compete for donations from the moneyed interests, but it is not the way to win votes from the people. It only reinforces the feeling that there is in fact only one party that has little interest in most of the people it ostensibly serves.

Perhaps the report of your positive statements about the Massachusetts plan was inaccurate. I hope so.

*Peter Welch is the majority leader of the Vermont Senate. He is running for the U.S. House to replace Bernie Sanders who is running for the U.S. Senate to replace Jim Jeffords (who is retiring).

Vermont, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism