Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Healthcare: It's Broken, We're Broke -- and # 37

September 23, 2009, 7:55 a.m.

Healthcare Executive: "System's Broken"
"We're Number 37!" Set to Song

(brought to you by*)

It's so sad. So disgusting. Not just our profiteering sickness industry, but the "business . . . as usual" performance of those in Washington whom we elect to bring our people up to the level of the civilized nations of this world -- and big business pays to keep them from doing it.

The nations that provide all their people health care -- at a price considerably less than what we're paying to provide care to a select few -- do so with a creative array of variations on "universal, single payer" systems. The longer the debate goes on in this country the more convinced I become that's the only solution for us as well.

And what is this from President Obama: "I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits -- either now or in the future"? This from Washington, where our two most recent administrations have contributed trillions of dollars to both deficits and debt by handing over our taxpayers' money to corporations, so that they can pay their executives multi-million-dollar bonuses (for decidedly sub-par performances at that)? These administrations have added additional trillions to our great-grandchildren's debt -- and are continuing to do so -- with unaccounted payments for unnecessary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that have made us less safe, while enriching the likes of Halliburton and Blackwater executives.

So let me get this straight, Congress and presidents are willing to add trillions to the national debt for the benefit of their largest campaign contributors, but when it comes to providing improved healthcare to the people who now rank 37th in the world, nearly 50 million of whom have no coverage at all, we can only make the improvements that won't add "one dime" to what we're now spending?

Have you been following the debate? Do you know how far we've fallen from the universal, single-payer ideal?

Do you know what the current plans consider a solution for those who are too poor to have health insurance? It's easy. Just pass a law requiring them to go out and buy health insurance. Then they'll have it -- and the insurance companies will have even more profits than they do now.

This is like providing housing for the homeless poor by passing a law requiring everyone to make mortgage payments to bankers -- a proposal as popular with Wall Street bankers as this "health care" proposal is with insurance executives, and just as unlikely to solve the problem.

It's a "win-win" -- at least for the elected officials who will continue to receive ever-more generous campaign contributions, and the insurance company executives who will continue to receive even bigger bonuses.

For us? It's a "lose-lose." We'll continue to pay more and get less than any other people on earth.

Oh, and they may not even have the votes to get that passed, since the Republican play book says defeating any healthcare reform is the best way to "crush" Obama and return the Republicans to power -- a goal that partisans of both parties all too often put ahead of the public welfare.

So that's where we are this morning.

I know there's a limit to the utility of anecdotal evidence in public policy debates. But I want to share the following with you anyway. It's a statement by a healthcare executive who thinks our present system is "broken" -- as indeed it is.

Original Blog Post: First, I am a registered Republican. Secondly, I am a healthcare executive and feel that I have an insider's view on our BROKEN healthcare system. It is my opinion that President Obama hit the nail on the head tonight [September 9, 2009, address to joint session of Congress on health care]. I was moved to tears by the reality and brilliancy of his speech. If you do nothing else, PLEASE take the time to educate yourself on the proposed reforms. Don't rely on the media or propaganda.

Comment from blog reader: I can't begin to argue with someone of your pedigree but I did not hear anything different tonight than what he has been saying. What is it that is so appealing to you?

Blogger's response to comment:

1. We have no option but to do SOMETHING.

2. Health insurance companies must be called to judgment. (Pre-existing conditions, cancellation without cause, arbitrary denials.)

3. There is huge waste in practicing defensive medicine, and pilot projects to reform this are a great start.

4. Accountability of providers by reporting outcomes is long overdue.

5. Options to provide catastrophic coverage to prevent bankruptcy are a necessity.

6. Get people out of the ERs for accessing primary care.

7. The lies and propaganda must stop. There is no proposal for a death panel, but merely a proposal to pay physicians for the time and effort it takes to counsel a patient on their options for end of life care. EVERYONE should have a plan. It is the right thing to do for one's family.

8. He is right. We CANNOT put this discussion and reform off any longer. We must act now for our own children and for the character of our country. I also believe we can do great things. . . . Unfortunately, I think most people get hung up in the politics (including the politicians) and so no significant change can occur.
The blog entry comes from the wife of a friend of mine, so I can vouch for her credentials as a healthcare executive -- and am willing to honor her desire for anonymity on my blog.

The point is, simply, that there are a goodly number of folks who do understand our present system, work within it, consider themselves conservatives, and yet when it comes to candid descriptions of the reality they know so well and the solutions we so desperately need, are if anything even more progressive than those hated "liberals."

After losing the presidential election in 1952, Adlai Stevenson said, "it hurts too much to laugh, but I'm too old to cry."

Those are our only options.

What can you say when it turns out "We're number 37" in the world in terms of the health care provided our people, we leave nearly 50 million with no insurance coverage at all, and we still end up paying more for the inadequate care we get as other countries?

You can make a song out of it:

Of course, to keep this blog entry balanced, under the spirit of the repealed Fairness Doctrine, I herewith present's case for the abused health insurance executives:


* Why do I put this blog ID at the top of the entry, when you know full well what blog you're reading? Because there are a number of Internet sites that, for whatever reason, simply take the blog entries of others and reproduce them as their own without crediting the source. I don't mind the flattering attention, but would appreciate acknowledgment as the source, even if I have to embed it myself. -- Nicholas Johnson

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1 comment:

Nick said...

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The only limitation is that comments unrelated to the essay, such as advertising posing as comments, or with links to unrelated sites, will be removed. That is why one or more of the comments posted on this blog entry are no longer here.

-- Nick