Algerians and “Obamacare”

Obama just claimed a huge victory, a huge victory in the life of the United States. We already call it “Obamacare” (Obama santé). A victory certainly for the American president who reinforces his chances for reelection next November, but it is, above all, a victory for some 32 million people, the poorest in the United States.

What is it about? Faced with the anxiety of this whole fringe of poor who, due to a lack of financial means, do not have access to care, Barack Obama promised during his electoral campaign in 2007 to come to their aid. In the United States, which does not have a reputation for carrying out social policy, to allow all citizens –whatever their social class– to seek health care is a heroic act that Obama chalks up as one of his credits. We must not believe that this only concerns the homeless; even the middle class was exposed to the risk of not being able to “afford” intensive treatment. Radiotherapy, an MRI, chemotherapy, is dearly paid for in Uncle Sam’s country. All chronic illnesses, like diabetes, are expensive as well. In these particular cases, no insurance company would agree to cover the sick, for the sake of profit. All insurance companies will, with Obama’s law, be required to accept “at risk” persons. The federal state will help people with insurance premiums.

Obama signed this law in 2010. The Republican Party took the matter to the Supreme Court to ask that this law be declared unconstitutional for infringing on individual liberties, a request that is truly impossible since the Supreme Court is comprised of nine members nominated for life by the president of the United States. They are only replaced in the case of death or resignation. Five members of the Supreme Court were nominated by Republican presidents, which didn’t leave much hope for Obama. And yet, with five voices against four (the justice nominated by Bush made all the difference), the law was passed last Thursday. From now on Americans, all Americans, will no longer have to fear death for lack of care.

Seen in Algeria, there is still (after the Arab summer and blind terrorism) a great hardship that we have known in our history. Those older than 50 have lived it. Before the independence, Algerians did not have access to care. Hospitals and doctors were reserved for the French. If some Algerians, around the big cities, showed an indigent card, it would just allow them to be guinea pigs for first year medical students who “were practicing.” At the time their only recourse was herbalists, both real and charlatans. By true coincidence, during an organized event last Wednesday by the Senate on the system of healthcare of the [Algerian] Independence to date, figures were published. In 1962 there were 250 doctors in Algeria for a population of 9 million people. No comment. Fifty years later, Algeria has 60,000 doctors. It has trained more but they are overseas. Free access to healthcare is still in effect despite the passage from socialism to liberalism. Life expectancy went from 45 years in 1962 to 70 years today. Medications for chronic illnesses are free while all others are reimbursed. No illness is refused by hospitals whatever the social situation.

Nevertheless, our protestors demonstrate more and for obviously different reasons than Republican Americans. In any case, our sick are not suffering like these 32 million (almost our entire population) Americans for whom the law, only now, permits access to care. It’s a huge victory for sick Americans before a victory for Obama!

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