WENDELL POTTER: They do. And that’s why this will not be repealed. They like a lot about it. This legislation, we call it "healthcare reform," but it doesn’t really reform the system. There are a lot of good things in there that does make some of the practices of the insurance industry illegal, things that should have been made illegal a long time ago, so that—
AMY GOODMAN: Like?
WENDELL POTTER:—for that matter, there are good things here. But it doesn’t reform the system. It is built around our health insurance system, as the President said. And they want to keep it in place, because it also guarantees that they will have a lot of new members and billions of dollars in new revenue in the years to come.The Health Care Reform Act (HCR) didn't go far enough but it certainly moved forward. Potter's key point is that the legislation didn't reform the health care system. Of course it didn't. The climate in this country wasn't conducive to totally throwing out the health care system and building a new one from scratch. Anyone who honestly believes that such a massive overhaul was possible in one fell swoop is terribly naive. Congress was never going to pass such a bill in 2010. Change is a process and the more intensive the change, the longer the process. The 13th amendment ended slavery in 1865 but 90 years later Jim Crow laws were the norm. The Brown decisions in 1954 and 1955 said that separate but equal was inherently unequal but my local school system was among those that did not fully integrate until 1971. I don't advocate that change should occur slowly but experience has taught me that it generally does. The question now is what do we do next? There is little to be gained from decrying what wasn't done as we cannot time travel backwards and change anything.
Our most significant problem is that health care is a for profit industry in this country. In spite of the right's constant assertion that the HCR act is socialized medicine, it is far from such. A major obstacle to reform is that Americans have an exceptional fear of anything that even smells of socialism, which most wrongly equate with communism. I don't think that Obama ever stood a realistic chance of getting HCR passed that included a single payer plan or the loosely defined public option.
I don't disagree with the many disappointed progressives who assert that there is an unholy alliance between government and business. I do disagree that nothing has been gained via the current HCR. It's far from perfect but I think that our focus needs to be on generating specific ideas for how we advance the movement to a single payer plan or at minimum a plan that includes a public option. I think that it's important that we, the citizens, develop specifics as to what we want rather than continuing to engage in bemoaning what we do not have. I think that we all need to share ideas and engage in some useful dialog.
From my perspective we have a public that has a significant number of members who continue to believe lunatic ideas such as there are death panels as a result of HCR. There is a general public suspicion that HCR is a socialist plan that will destroy "the greatest health care system in the world." The politicians are playing on those fears. It seems that a key component is mounting a PR campaign to dispel myths and fallacies about what HCR does. I don't think that our side has done PR particularly well in the past and we need to change that.
There is also a need to disseminate powerful and clearly stated information about the reality of our health care system; certainly we have highly skilled medical professionals and excellent are in or medical facilities. However, a lot of Americans don't have access to that great health care which I contend makes declaring ourselves to have the greatest health care system in the world meaningless. We have to work on showing the people who are in deep denial that the health care system is broken. We have to redefine what health care is. Ideally the focus of health care should not be profit but providing preventive care and treatment as necessary. It sounds simple, but the opposition to the moderate level of reform of HCR demonstrates that there are a lot of Americans who do not adopt this belief.
We have to deal with the reality of the current beliefs regarding health care reform. We have to take seriously the ongoing opposition expressed against HCR as passed because it's not just elected officials with a vested interest in maintaining their relationships with the insurance industry who oppose HCR, it's also a lot of the people who stand to benefit from health care reform. People who are acting against their own best interests.
By the way, when I say "we" I mean anyone who believes that our health care system does not serve the needs of all of the people and is need of a major overhaul. We have to become the public voices advocating for change. We have to become a public force that can be pointed to as representing a counterpoint to the very loud voices who decried health care reform as President Obama struggled to push through some level of reform. The Republicans continue to insist that the public doesn't want health care reform and they point to the Tea Party and other voices from the right who loudly protest any government input into health care. We are also the public and we need to make our voices heard and not siphon our energies off to engage in supporting third party candidates who stand no chance of winning and sulking in the corner because the road to reform has more curves than we expected.