An Alaskan journalist's perspective on local and national issues

Posts tagged ‘Universal Health Care’

America and Greed: A Health Care Story

There was a video that was posted on YouTube by a channel called ForaTV.  They are pretty good about posting some thoughtful videos.  Whether you agree with them or not, they are quite thoughtful.  A very recent video had the former governor of Michigan, and the host of Current TV’s “The War Room,” Jennifer Granholm talking about health care in America.

It’s not a mystery that America spends more money on healthcare.  The amount rounds out to roughly $8,000 per person.  This would be perfectly fine, if what we were getting for our money was worth what we spent.  This, however, is not the case.  Approximately 45,000 people die every year from a lack of health insurance, according to a study from Harvard University.  Over 50 million people in America don’t have health insurance.  One of the biggest causes of bankruptcy is health care costs.  These are real problems that are completely verifiable.

However, take a look at the video linked at the top.  After watching it, take a look down in the comments section.  You’ll find lovely little gems like this –

this women is horrible. i dont spend anywhere near 10000 per year. why should me and my family who have our own problems be paying for others? gottt damn.

truth! i’m sick of government punishing me with absurd taxes because i’m responsible enough to live healthy and save

i have an idea. lets let the nation that did as much testing on its populace as the soviets and nazis unbridled control of healthcare and every other system. what could go wrong.

Accuse us of taking the most radical comments we could find (and its true that there was a lot of genuinely intelligent conversation), but the fact is that there are a lot of people who think this way.  They believe that they shouldn’t be burdened with helping other people.  That because they are healthy, pardon the language, screw everybody else.

The level of greed displayed in that thinking is absolutely amazing.  But it isn’t a small thing.  All over the conservative arena, there are people who will fight tooth and nail to get out the view that they shouldn’t have to help other people, because it’s their money.

Never mind that if universal health care was implemented, they would be saving money.  Never mind that such a system would save everybody money in the long term.  That’s too hard a thing to consider.  The fact is that they are being told, day in and day out that all of this help for the poor is funding laziness and everything else.  Not helping families who desperately need it.

There are plenty of people in America who are working two jobs and who don’t go to the doctor because they know that they can’t afford it.  This is not a new phenomenon.  But the machines of conservative America are putting out every day that these people are just leeches, hoping that the government will hold their hand.  Totally ignoring the fact that these people don’t want anybody to hold their hand.  They are busting tail and working hard to stay alive.  They merely want, and desperately need, help.  Help that should be given because we are supposed to be a better people than what we want to be.

But the greater existential question comes to this – why?  Why do these people just so adamently refuse to believe that this is for a good cause?  Perhaps the answer comes from the fact that nobody wants to sacrifice.  Make people believe that they are going to have to sacrifice, and they will simply work against it.  It is a fact that even in times of hardship, nobody wants to give up some of their good for the betterment of others.

An irony of that statement, however, is that the bulk of the people against universal health care in America identify themselves as Christian.  Being against this is kind of odd, in that respect, because if you look at their holy book, the Bible, there is a passage where Jesus Christ, their savior, openly says how people should treat the poor.

Luke 3:11 “If you have two coats,” he replied, “give one to the poor. If you have extra food, give it away to those who are hungry.”

Helping the poor was a core tenant of the son of the God that they believe is what America is based around, and yet whenever somebody talks about universal health care, there is an argument that often comes up that these people are leeches, and that they shouldn’t have to pay so that they can be lazy.

There was a brilliant quote by Stephen Colbert about how America treats the least of its people –

If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus is just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.

But these quotes haven’t answered the question – why?  Why do these people seem so dead-set against helping the people who are the most hurt by the current health care system?  Perhaps the ultimate answer is that they don’t know.  Just like so many other people in this country, it is just easier to go with the flow, and not to question something, than it is to step up and fight for anything.

If that is the case, then the real question becomes – what has America come to?

Peace out,

Lefty

Rick Santorum vs. Healthcare

In the world of stupid statements, this has got to be one of the best.  For real, this couldn’t be any more stupid.  When Ron Paul said that asinine quote about the churches and other people helping those without health insurance, that wasn’t nearly as stupid as Rick Santorum’s latest documented quote.  Get a load of this –

The answer is not what can we do to prevent deaths because of a lack of health insurance. There’s — I reject that number completely, that people die in America because of lack of health insurance.

Wow.  Just, wow.  That’s powerful stupid.  That’s like the kind of epic stupid that exists in books.  You hear people talk about other people this dumb, but you never actually see them.  Until now.

Basically, Santorum is arguing that nobody dies from medical causes.  Hear me out.  If nobody dies from not having health care coverage, that means that nobody dies from medical causes, because the only way that they could die from not having coverage is if they had a medical problem.  That’s Santorum’s argument.  And it’s stupid.  People die from medical problems all the time.

According researchers from Harvard, roughly 45,000 deaths a year can be attributed to lack of health care.  Over 2,000 veterans die each year from lack of health care.  That’s something interesting.  But the fact is that Santorum doesn’t stop at saying nobody dies from lack of health insurance.

He has always been quoted talking about how people without insurance need to stop whining about the high cost of medicine and advanced medical treatments and pay less on non-essential things like cable and cell phones.  Yes, because all poor people have these things.  He has also said that the insurance companies should deny coverage of people with pre-existing conditions.  Isn’t this guy a peach?

While he is talking about how gay sex is wrong and how straight sex is good, he will also never stop finding ways to make the poor out to be the enemy.  What a piece of human garbage.  Santorum goes on to say –

People die in America because people die in America. And people make poor decisions with respect to their health and their healthcare. And they don’t go to the emergency room or they don’t go to the doctor when they need to.  And it’s not the fault of the government for not providing some sort of universal benefit.

Yes, they don’t go to doctors when they need to.  Gee, I wonder why?  Could it be because going to the doctor is ungodly expensive?  Even seeing a family practitioner can be up at $100 a pop.  At an emergency room, they will treat you, but only to the point where you are no longer in mortal danger.  After that, they have satisfied their Hippocratic Oath and will kick you out, head-first.

And by the way, why is it that the government is required to do nothing?  Apparently Rick and Ron didn’t read this Constitution that they all love so much.  There is a claus in the First Amendment stating that all services that are deemed of national importance should be run by the government.  It’s the reason that Republicans can’t privitize the Postal Service.  But now we have more necessary services.  Medicine should be one of them.  Why it isn’t is simply beyond conception.

This man is so blind to the problems of the poor that he simply doesn’t care.  Rick Santorum doesn’t care about poor people.  It is clear that in his utopia, the poor would be living on the street or dead, with no tools available to help them, while the rich lived in golden paradises without taxes.  What a pity such a world couldn’t exist.

It’s time to shut Rick Santorum down.  It’s clear that he’ll say whatever his dim-witted base wants to hear.  Is sad, really, because most of his base is poor middle to senior-aged white people.  People who could use universal health care the most.

Peace out,

Lefty

The Universal Health Care Debate

This is an area which I am very firmly on the side of yes, we need universal health care.  However, I am not a completely idealistic man.  This must be a practical application.  This must be done right.  It must be done so that it can maximize efficiency, and minimize problem.  A lot of people seem to be of the mindset that true universal health care is impossible.  They are basically just dismissing it off-hand.  Not only do I believe that universal healthcare in the US is possible, I believe that it can be done fairly easily, and can benefit everyone.

Universal health care is a simple concept.  The idea is that you have a system that is built around having a system that can provide health care coverage to all members of a given society.  Some people seem to believe that this is a totally novel concept.  One of the big problems in modern society here in the US is that people don’t seem to realize that not only has this been done before, it is being done now, and in a lot of places, it is being done very well.

A study was recently published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine that says that the system that England has, NHS, is the most cost-effective and most efficient system on Earth.  And where does the United States rank?  According to an article in The Guardian, which was about the aforementioned study, we are the least cost-effective, and the least efficient.  This is not the first time that this has come up.  Article after article comes out about how the United States spends more on its healthcare than the rest of the industrialized world, and we are the least efficient.  If we were getting more bang for our buck, maybe that would mean more, we aren’t.  Instead, there are millions of Americans uninsured, and we have people in this country who honestly have to ask the question of whether or not they will eat for dinner, or get medicine.

So, what is the solution?  Well, that’s pretty simple – scrap Medicare and Medicaid and simply give people in this country universal health care.  Rather than look at the perks first, let’s take a look at the problems.  The biggest hurdle against this, as it has been very well pointed out, is that this nation’s bureaucratic system is a total mess.  Those who make this argument are not wrong.  The next big argument is when people look at Canada, and make the argument that people have to wait for various services.  Britain has a similar problem.  This is not being argued.

Let’s address the last problem first.  While it is a problem in Britain and Canada, the fact is that, according to over 10 years of surveys, polls, and other forms of research, Canadians and the British are more satisfied, overall, with their healthcare than Americans are.  Only eight percent of Canadians want to trade in their health care system for a privitized one like the US.  According to 2005 Harris poll, 75% of responders believed that we should have a system like they have in Europe.  The numbers are totally stacked against this.

Looking at the bureaucracy problem, one thing that doesn’t get reported is that universal health care would actually aid this problem!  For real, billions of dollars are wasted every single year in the endless stream of paperwork that is required in order to make the system we have work.  Our current system is the ultimate example of the bureaucratic mess that our country is in.  At best, what we have is a patchwork system that leaves some with great health care, while others with none at all.  With a universal health care system, this would get much better.  Because things would be consolidated underneath one banner, the endless amount of mess that our current system has would be removed.  Plus, it would save money, lots of money.  According to studies that were conducted by groups like the General Accounting Office and the Congressional Budget Office, a single-payer system could cover every single person in the country, and still save billions of dollars.

Then there is the Libertarian argument, that this is encroaching on the freedom of the free market, and the socialized medicine is wrong.  Capitalism is a great thing, when a nation is coming into its own, when it is on the rise.  But America isn’t growing anymore.  We have hit a spike, and now we are leveling out.  Japan had the same thing happen to it about 20 years ago.  So, free-market capitalism is no longer palatable for this country.  Socialism, in an economic respect, is useful when growth is longer major, and a group needs to look to the people within it.  A mixed economy, of socialism and capitalism, is the only one that truly works.  And if we want to see the Libertarian argument debunked, it is pretty simple – let’s start with a public option.  Watch as the private insurance companies simply cannot compete.  If the Libertarians want to have a free market, let’s let them have it.  Instead of telling them to go, let’s introduce another player into the mix.  Free market, right?  Well, we introduce another player, and when everybody runs to the public option, and the other companies go belly-up, then we’ll know.

With this nation looking to fix our debt problem, this is an area that could save up to hundreds of billions of dollars, and is not even being looked at.  But the biggest problem to universal health care is something that is almost never talked about.  Of all the argument that I have heard, this is probably the most compelling, and I fully agree that this will be a problem, should a single-payer or public option system be implemented – ethnic medical problems.

Now, when one talks about this, there is going to be somebody who says that they are a racist.  That is not true!  In fact, looking at this is the exact opposite.  It is about realizing that certain ethnic groups are more susceptible to different medical conditions.  This is proven.  Certain groups are more prone to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, you name it.  If we are going to have a universal system, the PC liberals will have to step very far outside of their comfort zone and realize that, while science has proven that there are no different races, there are different ethnic groups who come with a different sets of medical complications.  I am not in way advocating that we deny them coverage, but if we are going to approach this, we have to have informed doctors who know which groups to watch for which conditions.  There is always somebody who will feel that this is a racist thing, but it isn’t.  Ethnobiology, in reference to medicine, means that we have to start holding our doctors to a higher standard.  If a group is more prone to cancer, you watch them for cancer.  And with universal health care, since everybody would be covered, this is definitely something that we would have to take into account.

Not only is universal health care possible, it may just be the only option we have got at this point.  America is in trouble when it comes to health care.  The costs of medicine in this country have outpaced the rise in wages.  More and more people are choosing to ignore their health in place of other crucial services, like food or shelter.  So, if it is so easy, and so simple, why hasn’t it been done?  Well, the answer to that is money.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent over the last few years by different insurance companies to lobby against stuff like this.  Just like how pot was made illegal, it was just good marketing against this that got us to this point.  Misinformation has been the weapon of choice by the conservatives and the Libertarians against univeral health care.  Add to that, that when Obama has a super-majority in the House and the Senate, he was unable to make anything happen, and dropped single-payer and the public option almost the first day, it was doomed before conception.  But this needs to be addressed.  We have to start asking ourselves, both as a nation and a species, how we want to treat one-another, and what kind of future we want.

Peace out,

Eli

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