Health Reform: A Victory for Democracy and the End of Poverty!

March 26, 2010
by Jos G. Linn

This week, the House and Senate finally enacted comprehensive, meaningful health reform. The passage of reform is monumental. And while we’ve heard all the talking points as to what reform will do for all Americans, discussed very little is the fact that this health reform legislation is the largest anti-poverty investment in decades. Most of the spending in this legislation goes for one purpose — expanding coverage for those who don’t have it. Final reform will provide coverage to 32 million people by 2019. Nearly half will gain coverage through Medicaid; the rest will get coverage through private insurance. Many of those buying private coverage will receive premium subsidies from the government to help them purchase it. Therefore, the largest investments in reform are designed specifically to help low-income Americans. Considering the political climate the last 30 years which tends to blame the poor for their lot in life, this is no small achievement.

Despite setbacks in losing single-payer health care and a public health insurance option, the constant drumbeat from RESULTS volunteers to Congress that reform help people in poverty helped keep these crucial elements in place. As a result, combating poverty, while perhaps not to political focus of reform, is certainly the practical focus of it. Your commitment and determination helped make this happen.

Furthermore, this victory is a victory for democracy itself. RESULTS has spent thirty years convincing people that they can make a difference. Despite our successes, the most potent weapons of the status quo — cynicism, disillusionment, and disengagement — are still around and still powerful. And they made their presence known repeatedly throughout the debate over health reform. But a funny thing happened this week; hope and optimism won. It was not luck or chance that produced this victory — it was the vigilance, passion, and stamina of people like you that did it. Now, no American can say “my voice doesn’t matter” or “corporate interests always win.” This week grassroots activists around the country proved what Gandhi said was true, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

Thank you all for your tireless and invaluable work. And thank you to the members of Congress who showed the courage to do right by the American people. Please be sure to thank them for supporting reform.

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