After much discussion, the health care workers caucus — comprised of Workers World Party members working in various areas of medicine and patient care — has developed a 10-point program, or prescription, to address some of the ailments in the U.S. health care system. We intend to elaborate on each point in future articles and webinars.
1. Free health care for all. End profit-based medicine.
No one should ever go without health care or ration medicine. It is both counterproductive and immoral to charge for and profit from medicine. We need community and health care worker control over medicine.
2. Continue and expand reproductive and mental health services.
Reproductive health, which includes access to contraceptives and safe abortions, is essential to the health and welfare of the people. This is also true for mental health services, especially at a time when so many are isolated from their support networks.
3. Make health care accessible. Reopen and build more hospitals and clinics.
Making health care accessible means ending systemic racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia and transphobia in medicine, while reeducating providers. It also means having a clinic in each community that’s large and staffed enough to meet the people’s needs. No one should be more than 15 minutes away from a doctor or a hospital.
4. Produce and issue personal protective equipment to all workers.
Millions of workers are needlessly exposed. Increase production of PPE and immediately issue it for free with training on how to use it.
“We nurses are a peculiar bunch. We can all talk to one another, and we can all understand one another. Whether we work in different geographic areas, practice in different specialty settings or even have very different politics, we all speak ‘nurse.’ And we all have the same mindset: Our patients come first. We suit up and we show up. That’s what we signed up for, and that’s what we do. We’re not looking for your sympathy, but there are things you can do to help us.
“And please stay put, keep your distance, and wash your hands. That can help reduce the number of patients who need our care.”
Judy Lerma RN
San Antonio, Texas
5. Abolish pharmaceutical and medical technology patents.
Share and coordinate research efforts freely across borders. Patents individualize and slow down research efforts. Information should be shared freely, especially with countries that lack infrastructure to conduct research. The U.S. population should not be deprived of medicines that are developed elsewhere.
6. Free all prisoners and ICE detainees. Stop raids, deportations and policing.
Prisons are concentration camps for the poor; detainment centers are concentration camps for immigrants and migrants. COVID-19 turns them into death camps. FREE THEM ALL.
7. Free and accessible COVID-19 testing.
This is a pandemic; we need to know who’s infected and who is not. We need to conduct free, widespread testing for COVID-19 that people can obtain easily.
8. End racism, ableism, misogyny and anti-LGBTQ+ bigotry in the delivery of health care.
The virus is not particular to whom it attacks. It crosses all borders. Every human being is precious, and there can be no exceptions or sacrifices. Different standards of health care for different people must be abolished.
9. Retool industries to make medical equipment and supplies.
Companies continue to force workers to make bombs, vehicles, small commodities and other things that are useless in fighting a pandemic. Immediately halt production of nonessentials and retool more factories to make medical supplies and equipment.
10. End all U.S. wars and sanctions.
You can’t quarantine during an airstrike, and you can’t fight a virus without medical supplies and equipment. Drop all U.S. sanctions and end the wars both at home and abroad. End the blockade of Cuba and allow everyone access to Cuba’s lifesaving medicine.
This 10-point program is not a complete list of problems with and solutions to the capitalist health care system. We know that the capitalist system is incapable of answering all our demands and that they can only be met through the process of socialist revolution. We fight for a better economic and health care system not only for ourselves and our children, but for future generations whom we will never meet.