I’m confused. Chris Chope, the right wing tory MP for Christchurch and East Dorset has yet again introduced a Private member’s bill called the NHS co-funding and co-payment Bill. This Thatcherite neo-liberal has repeatedly sought to undermine the NHS with this sort of legislation for years now but this time he moight well gain some traction. The current overall tory majority might just allow the bill to get through.
The Bill has it’s second reading in the House early next month.
What confuses me isn’t that this nasty little scumbag is trying once again to derail the ‘free at point of delivery’ nature of our health service. That’s just par for the course. Weasels do what weasels do and there are few more weasely than Chope. He’s the one that fillibustered a bill to ensure landlords, like himself have to treat tenants fairly. He’s also the one who derailed a Bill to make upskirting illegal.
What confuses me is the very idea that the bill is necessary.
You see, we already have co-payment options in the NHS. That’s why we have prescription charges and fees for optician and dentistry services. It wouldn’t take a change in the law to extend that in principle. But Chope isn’t content to have the option to extend what amounts to small tweaks around the edges of the NHS. He wants to smash the very idea of the NHS by introducing co-funding too.
It may not look like much at first glance but co-funding actually means much more than the tokenistic sort of arrangement we get from prescription charges. Co-funding really does mean a two-tier system of health access where those too poor to afford treatment or who can’t get insurance, either because of high premiums or pre-existing conditions simply won’t be able to access healthcare at all.
This is the system that sees countless American citizens go bankrupt every year (Breaking bad, anyone). It’s the reason that US accident victims are known to plead with would-be helpers not to call them an ambulance because they won’t be able to pay for their care. It’s the reason why so many impoverished Americans give birth without midwifery or medical assistance, leading to much higher infant and maternal mortality rates than would be expected in a civilised, advanced economy such as theirs. And Chope wants to inflict that on us.
Please talk to your MP. And make sure that everyone in your constituency knows about the bill. Check to see how your MP votes and spread that information around too. If they vote for this bill they’re very definitely voting to further impoverish sick and disabled people in your town, to put pregnant women and their babies at risk and generally to lower the health and life-expectancies of you and your neighbours.
But the government will be able to afford more backhanders for their wealthy donor chums so that’s OK, isn’t it?