DSA National Director Challenges Guiliani on Healthcare

Guiliani's Rx plan: ‘Republican hopeful knows as little about health care as he knows about socialism,' DSA leader says.

“Rudy Giuliani wouldn’t know ‘socialism’ from ‘social skills,’” said Democratic Socialists of America’s (DSA) Frank Llewellyn. “He must be angling to join Hillary Clinton at the feeding frenzy courtesy of ‘Big Pharma’ and the Insurance Companies,” the DSA national director added. The socialist leader was referring to the contributions the senator receives from the pharmaceutical industry and her abandonment of any pretense at offering health care for the millions of uninsured. “Giuliani wants some insurance chum, too,” Llewellyn said, responding to Giuliani’s charge that the health care programs pushed by the Democratic frontrunners reflected un-American and socialist values. “Giuliani is wrong in so many ways that you could generate two top ten lists of crank comments from his press release.”

“First off, he tarnishes the socialist idea by associating it with the Democratic Party,” Llewellyn said, arguing that the Democrats are—with the exception of the G.O.P.—the most pro-capitalist and pro-corporate party in the world, and far more subservient to corporate needs than even the avowedly conservative French and German governments.

More important, argued Llewellyn, socialized medicine has little in common with either a private or a public insurance system. Socialized medicine means that everybody has access to health care and all health care resources are allocated democratically to increase the public health. The application of such principles in the United States would be terrific, resulting in vast increases in public health, especially in minority communities that have been starved of health care resources and have disproportionately high child mortality rates, he said. In contradistinction, Giuliani’s approach, largely borrowed from President Bush, would vastly increase the number of Americans without insurance and subsidize the already-well-off with tax credits of up to $15,000.

The European healthcare systems that Giuliani criticizes achieve better health outcomes for more people, and especially for children, than does the U.S. health care system, and at less cost. “It is a tragedy that 45 million Americans have no access to health insurance and that almost an equal number has access to health insurance only episodically. It is criminal that few politicians are serious about solving that problem, and just bizarre that the former New York mayor would lump the plans of his opponents with socialist measures,” Llewellyn said.

That’s because none of the major Democrats is advancing a plan even remotely resembling socialized healthcare, in Llewellyn’s opinion. Neither are they challenging the insurance industry. All of the proposed Democratic plans (with the notable exception of Dennis Kucinich’s) leave the private insurance system intact. Socialists argue that the insurance industry with its bloated administrative and marketing costs and its constant effort to dodge paying the cost of providing health careespecially to those most in needis the chief barrier to increased access to health care and better health for most Americans.

It was insurance company profits that funded the massive advertising and lobbying efforts that defeated the Clinton Administration’s early attempt to improve health care and access to insurance for Americans. Since the Clinton planitself barely adequate but an improvement over anything that followedwas defeated, insurance companies have gotten richer and those Americans without insurance have increased by at least a third.

Socialists in the United States, for the most part, do support a single-payer approach to health insurance as embodied in the legislation (HR 676) introduced by Representative John Conyers and 74 co-sponsors; most people who support a single payer approach to healthcare or the Conyers bill are not socialists and the bill is definitely not socialized medicine. “Socialists continue to support socialized medicine, but we also support a politically viable plan that meets the needs of the uninsured,” Llewellyn said.

“If Giuliani would like to debate some real socialists about the health care crisis facing the United States, instead of positioning himself in the Republican primary as an alternative to the equally feckless Mitt Romney, we will gladly take him on. Democratic Socialists of America, the largest socialist organization in the United States, is engaged in a national dialogue on economic justice that includes support for a single payer health care system. Giuliani just postures while the nation’s poor and uninsured remain at risk,” the DSA director concluded.


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