Idea of “earning” health care may be rooted in America’s slaveholding past

April 30th, 2015 by Sylvia Moore Leave a reply »

I just recently came across this essay in OpEd News by Cecile Lawrence titled “Universal health care in the U.S. v. the peculiar institution,” connecting the absence to the right to health care in the United States to the legacy of slavery. Furthermore, America’s troubled racial history is a major reason for the country’s paltry social safety net. That relationship has even more resonance now as uprisings over the killings of unarmed black people by police and vigilantes roil from Oakland to Ferguson, Mo., to Baltimore. America has always projected an image of itself to the rest of the world that is false: that of the land of freedom, liberty, opportunity and equal rights. The country is being forced to confront the truth about itself: that it is and has always been the “land of freedom and opportunity” only for some. The right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as written in the Declaration of Independence was only meant for the white men who established the United States and those like them.

As the essay above mentioned, inequality was built into the DNA of the U.S. Constitution, and slavery built American capitalism (a book outlining the latter point in detail, but not mentioned in Lawrence’s essay, is Edward Baptist’s The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism). Lawrence notes that the cultural attitude in America is that everyone living here who isn’t wealthy is only useful for doing

wage work…for the benefit of the capitalist system.

I would add that those who, for various reasons, don’t work, can’t work or can’t find work are seen as “less than,” “surplus” or “useless” (with the exception of retirees). American society makes it extremely difficult for such people to survive, let alone thrive, and they are resented by others for taking public assistance, the reason being that they “haven’t earned it.” Never mind that every American uses at least one government program of some kind (the mortgage interest deduction is a popular middle class government program).

Having to “earn” health care – rather than it being a right conferred to people by virtue of being born and/or living in America – is a principle embedded in racist culture. I believe it is the principle by which the U.S. stubbornly clings to the inefficient and unfair system of employer-provided private health coverage. One must “work” to have access to high quality health coverage, preferably at a good-paying, middle class job. If you are unfortunate enough to only land low-wage work, because of lack of education or a bad economy, and your employer doesn’t provide health coverage, you were left with nothing at all before the Affordable Care Act passed, or with lower-tier Medicaid after the law passed. For many poor people living in states where Republican-controlled legislatures have refused to expand Medicaid, the situation is the same as before health reform.

Since black people have been, and are still, subject to employment discrimination, it has been harder for them to access health coverage. In addition, Latinos, because of immigrant status, perceived status, and/or discrimination, have found it difficult to obtain health coverage. Poor whites who live in GOP-dominated states are racism’s collateral damage. Certainly, the situation has improved somewhat under the ACA, but problems remain for people of color. It is very convenient for reactionaries to demand that health coverage be “earned,” rather than conferred as a right, especially if one wishes to keep certain disfavored groups unhealthy and, therefore, unable to compete economically with the dominant (white and affluent) group.  Access to quality health care lifts people out of poverty and helps them start to accumulate wealth. It’s much harder to be productive if you aren’t healthy. What better way of keeping wealth and resources away from marginalized people than by keeping them away from health care? What better way to make sure they can’t leave low-paying jobs, and start innovative businesses? Makes life a whole lot easier for those who oppose health care as a right.

American-style capitalism owes its existence to and has always been dependent upon a desperate underclass. Establishing real social democracy with a European-style welfare state that benefits everyone would eradicate the toxic remnants of the slaveocracy in America – physically and culturally.


Join the Parade for Healthcare Justice at the 2014 Doo Dah Parade, Nov. 15

November 12th, 2014 by Sylvia Moore Leave a reply »

For Profit Insurance Leaving you Hangin’ in the Wind?
HCA-LA, HCA-SFV, HCA-SGV, CaHPSA, PNHP, California One Care and friends of SINGLE PAYER
SATURDAY NOV 15th @ 10 am in Pasadena. Details below

Leaflet the crowd, carry a sign, wear a costume, or just show up to march for Healthcare as a Human Right.

PLEASE JOIN US to INFORM the PUBLIC about our movement to “Finish the Job” and bring a quality, universally equal accessible and affordable, Healthcare System to Everyone.

Don’t worry about entrance fee…just show up!
Doo Dah has received 6 scholarships from the AllCare Alliance.  HCA-SGV generously donated 10 more scholarships.

Meet at the corner of Vinedo and Nina in Pasadena :
CARPOOLS: All Areas Contact West of LA  area/ Near the 10 freeway


The costumes are set! $10 to march, but we can cover the cost for some if it’s a hardship – first come first served!

We will be carpooling from the Valley and all over LA. Let us know if you want to carpool at

Our marching group will have “patients” wearing hospital gowns and fake buttocks hanging because for-profit insurance leaves you exposed and vulnerable!

Behind the “patients” will be members of HCA, PNHP, CaHPSA, League of Women Voters, faith groups and more with t-shirts and signs showing how Single Payer is all about FULL COVERAGE FOR EVERYONE!

SPREAD THE WORD! Forward this email to your friends and family, follow us on Facebook and Twitter and like, comment, share, and retweet our posts about this event.

When it comes to handling public health crises, is our for-profit system up to the task?

October 7th, 2014 by Sylvia Moore Leave a reply »

As the Ebola pandemic in west Africa dominates news headlines here in the United States, the question is whether this country can adequately deal with such a public health emergency. Already, there are troubling signs. In a for-profit healthcare system such as ours, the value of actual health care is diminished. Salon Magazine hits the nail on the head:

Our own healthcare infrastructure, despite the best efforts of the Affordable Care Act, is fragmented, privatized, and all too often simply not up to the challenge. It crumbles under our own disasters: in New York after Hurricane Sandy, nurses famously had to carry newborns on respirators down nine flights of stairs to evacuate when NYU Langone hospital flooded, and other nurses went door-to-door to find sick patients in neighborhoods without power or transportation. Hospitals are closing, governors refusing to expand Medicaid, doctors loaded with student debt going into lucrative specialties instead of primary care. If we don’t value healthcare at home, how are we supposed to help provide it abroad?

Read the rest of the article here.

The Affordable Care Act granted more Americans the ability to buy health insurance, but many are still left out and finding it difficult to get care. That leaves our healthcare infrastructure still vulnerable, precisely because we do not have a uniform system of healthcare access.

News from the Frontline

September 4th, 2014 by Andrew McGuire Leave a reply »

Dear Friends,

You are the most important resource in the effort to win healthcare equality and justice. You understand this complex issue and, most importantly, you care. You care about inclusion, affordability, efficiency and equality. And so you, like us, are most likely feeling disappointed about reform thus far.

Now that the ACA implementation has matured, we clearly see that the fractured and cruel nature of the American health care “scheme” continues unabated.

Dramatic inequality in cost, access and outcomes remain, while billions of our tax dollars are transferred from the US Treasury to the private health insurance industry. And what are those tax dollars going to pay for? Obscene CEO salaries and high-priced private boxes at stadiums are just the most visible of the irresponsible mis-allocation of our healthcare dollars.

In response, COC is now providing administrative support for a broad-based alliance of organizations – international, national, regional, state and local – that support a Waiver for State Innovation to implement single payer in California. There are nearly 100 organizations in the Alliance. Contact to join or for more information.

In addition, COC is laying the groundwork for an integrated socal media campaign to build netroots support for a transformational change in healthcare financing. We can overcome our movement’s generational barrier by strategically adopting social media and connecting the dots for the “new economy” which the Millennials face: a contract, part-time and temporary workforce without benefits.

Just as importantly, COC continues to develop the financial resources for the political analysis. Without more and better information, polling, message testing and analysis, we will falter. This is not inexpensive and it has the least funding of any of our projects. Your generous donation – especially a monthly pledge – will make a meaningful difference. Click Donate and help us win single payer!

Latest (Not so Greatest) News:

If you think this is an outrageous way to spend our healthcare dollar, sign a letter to Attorney General Kamala Harris demanding she invoke a “charitable trust” on their assets. read more

Narrow networks are a proven money-maker for health insurers. But, tragically, they limit care for California families. We all deserve the chance to consult the physician of our choice, no matter what! read more

Nearly every other line of consumer insurance has rate regulation in California. But the health insurance companies have rigged the political system so they can cheat! read more

2014 saw health insurance CEOs win spectacular raises in the millions of dollars with subsidies from the US Treasury bolstering their profits. read more

We are pleased to announce that News from the Frontline will be a monthly newsletter, with the goal of keeping you informed about what’s happening in California’s health industry and about activities around the state that advance single payer. Thank you for your continuing support for healthcare justice. You really are our most importance resource.


Andrew McGuire
Executive Director, California OneCare