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US Health Care Reform: Another Historic Moment in the Administration of the Nation’s Poverty

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RC
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Jul 1 2012 16:14
US Health Care Reform: Another Historic Moment in the Administration of the Nation’s Poverty

On the occasion of “Obamacare” being upheld by the Supreme Court, we recommend this 2010 audio lecture explaining why people's health is such a hotly debated systemic question in capitalism:

US Health Care Reform:
Another Historic Moment in the Administration of the Nation’s Poverty

Joseph Patrick (from the German Marxist quarterly GegenStandpunkt)

In dealing with public health care, the modern capitalist state has created a contradiction for itself: it wants a health care system, including all the products and services that go with it, that is provided through commerce, as is customary in a market economy. It welcomes this reputable business – like any other – for its contribution to the growth of the national economy. But unfortunately, the population is chronically short of money and can’t afford to pay profitable prices for the health care industry, which still has to take care of their health. So the state is faced with the task of, on the one hand, organizing health care as a profitable business that promotes growth and, on the other, securing the benefit of a public health care system – a physically functioning people – on the basis of the people’s precarious income.

No matter how creatively the state manages this task, providing the necessities for the people’s existence – in this case, their health – is a cost burden on profit and the national economy. More precisely, health care costs are a subdivision of the expenses necessary for maintaining a people in working condition, thus a contradiction to the accumulation of money, the true purpose of the capitalist economy.

The state acknowledges that, as necessary as these health care costs are for ensuring that its people are in a usable condition, these costs are a burden on business, so it has the duty of bringing these costs under control. It has the permanent task of keeping health care costs in line with the needs of business and ultimately the monetary growth of the national economy.

This project is always subject to critical scrutiny, a continuous comparison and contrast with the economic cycle and the condition of the national budget according to the political preferences of whatever each administration believes to be essential for public health care. The relation of costs paid and services received by the state is one that is always unsatisfactory – here in the USA and, for that matter, anywhere else in the world.

This talk was given in Oakland, California.