Fighting for life and health

Recent statistics compiled by the World Health Organization show that a baby born today in China, Japan or Korea has a longer healthy-life expectancy than a child born in the United States. (People in the U.S. live a little longer, but are sicker as they grow old.)

Keep that in mind when you read that a federal judge in Texas has just shot down the Affordable Care Act. If upheld on appeal, his ruling would make life expectancy and other health statistics even worse for people in the U.S.

Declining life expectancy is a measure of the deadly stranglehold that banks and corporations exercise in this country, which a generation ago boasted the highest standard of living in the world but now sees increased poverty and poverty-related diseases.

Think of it! In three countries, all of which were greatly destroyed by war and two of which were also impoverished by generations of colonial rule, life has vastly improved over the last half century, now surpassing the U.S. in a vital measure of health.

The Affordable Care Act, which this unelected judge in Texas has tried to kill, is not a national health plan of the type won in many capitalist countries by strong workers’ movements. Nor does it deliver the type of universal, free medical care instituted in countries where socialist revolutions came to power.

But it has made it easier for people here with pre-existing conditions to get health insurance. It has also facilitated the expansion of Medicaid coverage to 10 million more poor people. Under the ACA, more money has been appropriated for Medicare as well as for Native people’s health. It has also made it easier for people to get cheaper generic drugs.

All this is now under attack.

Who gets to be a federal judge? The one in Texas responsible for this ruling, Judge Reed O’Connor, was appointed by George W. Bush. Besides ruling the entire Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, he has also ruled against laws supporting immigrants, transgender people and Native children. In other words, he’s a thorough reactionary who has been in a powerful position for decades, dispensing “justice” on behalf of the super-rich.

There will be a movement to roll back this reactionary monster’s ruling. Not only is it a direct attack on the people’s right to health care, but it is also roiling the companies that make profits off of such care. It’s a contradiction of capitalism that the right-wing ideologues it spawns can shoot the system in the foot.

The genuine people’s movement shouldn’t be on the defensive. Now is the time to fight for free, universal health care for all!

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