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Fighting Racism with Health Reform

Summary: The “Great Replacement Theory” is a deeply racist philosophy pushed by the US right wing in a bid for political power. The current system of health care financing is no less racist, though mainly as side effect rather than tactic. Single payer would contribute immensely to decreasing racism.

Comment by: Jim Kahn

On Saturday, ten people, mostly black, were murdered in Buffalo NY by a young man motivated by the “Great Replacement Theory” – a belief that whites in America are being replaced in their rightful dominant position by an inferior class of individuals. This is pure racism. It has been repeatedly and intensively promoted in the pursuit of political power (and associated financial riches) by Fox News, other right-wing traditional and social media, and many GOP politicians. It is a scourge on America, a heinous myth stoked recurringly over the decades by the powerful to translate lower and middle class struggle and uncertainty into rage and votes. It contradicts two of our country’s fundamental values, equality and fair play. It elides our history of genocide of Native Americans. It is the worst of America.

Health care financing is equally racist. Not by intent, for the most part, not as a tactic to create power, but as entirely predictable collateral damage in the pursuit of profit. Our fractured system of health care is tiered, from the most luxurious health plans, with access to world class care, to underfinanced “health insurance for the poor” and legions of uninsured. People of color, especially Blacks and Hispanics, are the most likely to be poor and un-insured. They are the most likely to have shortened lives. They are the most affected by inadequate capacity for treatment of drug dependency.

What can the single payer movement do to fight the horrendous racism so visible this week? We can – must – continue the pursuit of a just and efficient health care system. Covering everyone with high quality insurance will end health care financing racism. It will also ease the day-to-day struggles facing tens of millions of middle-class and poor people of all races, diffusing the anxiety among many whites that makes them susceptible to the “replacement” goading.

We must replace our profoundly dysfunctional and discriminatory system to pay for health care with a humane and efficient alternative. Yes, the replacement we’ve been advocating for is a huge element in the fight against the evil “replacement” theory that has tragically surfaced in the news.

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