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Workers Vanguard No. 1170

21 February 2020
The closing date for news in this issue is 18 February.

Workers Vanguard

No Illusions in Sanders' "Medicare for All"

For Socialized Medicine!

Expropriate the Health Care Industry!

The health care industry in capitalist America is a leech feeding off the illness and ailments of working people and the poor—and not just the 30 million disproportionately black and Latino uninsured, who are bilked for everything they have, if they get treated at all. For many of those with insurance, coverage provides little protection against exorbitant bills and wrenching decisions. In 2017, over 137 million people suffered financial hardship due to medical expenses, with hospitals filing ever-more lawsuits to garnish the wages of the sick and judges jailing thousands for not appearing in court for unpaid bills. Record numbers of people are putting off needed doctor visits, medical procedures and drug purchases. The burden is immense as preventable diseases roar back to life and undertreated chronic conditions abound.

While those with means can buy world-class medical services, the bulk of the U.S. population pays considerably more for health care than people elsewhere in the industrialized world, with much less to show for it. All the while, the insurance parasites, the profit-gouging hospitals and the pharmaceutical giants are making a killing. It’s no wonder that the majority of Americans today favor some kind of government-backed health plan for everyone, a single-payer system popularly dubbed “Medicare for All.”

Bernie Sanders is closely identified with this demand, having made it central to his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, both in 2016 and again today. Last year, he introduced “Medicare for All” legislation in the Senate that would replace Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance with a single public agency to oversee the financing of health care, while leaving the delivery of care largely in private hands. A similar bill has been presented in the House by Pramila Jayapal.

Sanders and his reformist cheerleaders like Socialist Alternative present “Medicare for All” as one of the major rewards that would follow if he gets elected to high office. The lie is that a Sanders White House would be a benevolent capitalist government, that is, one supposedly defending the interests of “the people” against the robber barons of Wall Street. In reality, nothing of the sort could ever exist. Whether administered by “progressive” Democrats or right-wing Republicans, this government is the executive committee of the capitalist ruling class, the brutal exploiters who amass their profits from the blood and sweat of the workers. Under capitalism, the rulers will always seek to spend on health care the bare minimum to maintain a labor pool fit enough to exploit. They will only concede anything of significance if forced to by class and social struggle. (read on)

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About the ICL

V.I. LeninLeon TrotskyThe International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist) is a proletarian, revolutionary and internationalist tendency committed to the task of building Leninist parties as national sections of a democratic-centralist international. Our aim is the achievement of new October Revolutions—nothing else, nothing other, nothing less. The ICL bases itself on Marxist historical, dialectical materialism and seeks in particular to carry forward the international working-class perspectives of Marxism developed in the theory and practice of the Bolshevik leaders V. I. Lenin and L. D. Trotsky and embodied in the decisions of the first four Congresses of the Communist International as well as key documents of the Fourth International such as the Transitional Program (1938) and "War and the Fourth International" (1934). We also look to James P. Cannon, a leader of the early American Communist Party who was won to Trotskyism and went on to become a principal founder of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), working in close collaboration with Leon Trotsky. The origins of the ICL are in the Spartacist League/U.S., which began as the Revolutionary Tendency in the SWP and was bureaucratically expelled in 1963. Our ICL "Declaration of Principles and Some Elements of Program" was modeled on the Declaration of Principles adopted at the 1966 founding conference of the SL/U.S.

Adopted at the Third International Conference of the ICL in early 1998, the declaration presently exists in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, German, Russian, Polish, Italian, Turkish, Indonesian, Greek, Korean and Tagalog. In this post-Soviet period, marked by a deep regression of proletarian consciousness, we continue to be guided by Trotsky's statement that "the task of the vanguard is above all not to let itself be carried along by the backward flow; it must swim against the current." Reforge the Fourth International, world party of socialist revolution!