Monday, July 23, 2007

Healthcare debate

Paul Mulshine is a conservative opinion columnist for the Star-Ledger in New Jersey. By 'conservative', I think he is a neo-con. Yesterday, he wrote a column on SICKO, the new Michael Moore doc on healthcare in America. With more than 40 million people uninsured, and millions more under-insured this has reached beyond a screaming crisis. And Republicans and so-called neo-cons are poised to kill any attempt to make national health care a priority. Mulshine is one of them.

His column from the Sunday, July 22, 2007 of the Star-Ledger:
Moore's the real sicko

I drove to the local multiplex the other night to see Michael Moore's latest movie. My wife came along, but she wisely choose to see the latest Harry Potter flick instead. I envied her.
Michael Moore has always seemed to me to embody the essence of the middle-class socialist as described by George Orwell. "The underlying motive of many socialists, I believe, is simply a hypertrophied sense of order," Orwell wrote. "The present state of affairs offends them not because it causes misery, still less because it makes freedom impossible, but because it is untidy."

That certainly seems to be the case with Moore. He has no real empathy with the forlorn characters he puts up on the screen. They are just vehicles for his enduring urge to have the government run things. And in Moore's world, the government always runs things better.
The supposed high point of "Sicko" is a trip to Cuba he makes with some rescue workers who claim various injuries from responding to the 9/11 attacks. After a quick tour of Havana, he trots them off to a gleaming hospital where they receive top-notch medical care. Moore assures us that the care is exactly the same as a typical Cuban would receive.
Not quite. Anthony Boadle, the Havana correspondent for Reuters, reported that the hospital featured in the film was "Cuba's flagship hospital with a view of the Caribbean sea, a sharp contrast to many Cuban hospitals that are crumbling, badly lit, and which lack equipment and medicines."
Moore also glosses over the fact that the average Cuban lives in conditions that would appall the typical American. When I traveled there in 1994, I was amazed to find people raising pigs and chickens in the halls of what had once been gracious apartment buildings. The livestock supplements a diet of rice, beans and not much else. This points to the sole unique accomplishment of the Cuban socialists in the area of health care: They have cured obesity. I kept waiting for just one lighthearted moment during which Moore would contrast his own immense bulk with the trim physiques of the Cubans.
But there are no light moments in "Sicko." Moore pounds his points home the same way those immense hams of his pound the sidewalks as he visits Canada, Cuba, France and England.
The central premise of the movie is Moore's assertion that "we remain the only country in the Western world without free and universal health care." This is nonsense. Moore spends day after day in France, for example, without discovering that the French do not have a no-fee system like the English, but in fact have a system of basic insurance, supplemental insurance and co-pays. The typical resident of neighboring Germany, meanwhile, has 14 percent of gross pay deducted for a so-called "sickness fund." The big difference between other countries and the United States is not that they have free health coverage. It's that they have mandatory health coverage.
And even those countries that have entirely state-run systems are not quite as "free" as Moore makes them out to be. Early in the movie, he highlights the case of an American couple with a deaf child whose insurance company would not pay for cochlear implants in both ears. Being able to hear from just one ear was sufficient, the company said.
That may sound cruel, but according to a recent article in the Nottingham Post, an English family was told the same thing by the national health service there. The big difference was that the American company eventually relented and let the kid have his implants. As for the English kid, his parents had to shell out $63,000 for the second im plant.
Moore highlights an American cancer victim who died after he was denied a bone-marrow transplant. But that patient might not have fared any better in England, where a so-called "post-code lottery" either awards or denies treatment to patients based on how much money is in the budget of the health care district in which they live.
There is indeed plenty wrong with the American health-care system. But the government takeover Moore advocates would not cure it. Later in the movie he notes that 65 percent of American kids don't know where England is. In other words, the same government that can't teach kids to read a map is going to somehow be entrusted with our lives.
This sort of thing might be amusing if Moore had a lighter touch. But the movie didn't induce a single chuckle in the audience the other night. Perhaps that's because there was only one other person in the theater with me. The other theater-goers were all off watching something the English really are good at: acting out the Harry Potter books.

My answer:

Mr. Mulshine,

I assume that you trust the current for-profit health care system because you have health care. If you did not, and had not for years on end, you might feel differently.
There will always be problems with the limited resources of ‘healthcare’ per se ----whether such resources are distributed by the for-profit industry or by the government in a socialized single payer system. The real issue is the current system of for-profit healthcare in America has left more than 40 million uninsured and millions of others grossly under-insured, period.

Your critique of the system in the UK does not address that issue.
Just as the capitalist system needs regulation and systematic adjustment by the FED in order to operate functionally and provide people with the foundation of credibility in order to operate successfully, so now does the healthcare system in America. The government would never allow 40 million people to be under-educated or under-fed or un-housed without some major initiative to correct the issue.

The Clintons had the right idea: Everyone in America deserves and needs to be covered, period. Whether this comes about by a single payer system or Congress requiring all private companies to cover everyone in America in an affordable way if they wish to operate as companies ---and figure out a way to do it, is fine by me.
But this will continue to be an issue until it is solved.

Joseph R. Novick

His response:

"If you understood your own point, you would be opposed to it.”
Snippy, pointless, and typical for a neo-con. The neo-cons, on just about any issue, are as predictable as ever.


USpace said...

There has to be a better way but a government monopoly on healthcare is not the way I'm afraid.

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
destroy your healthcare system

Cuba's filthy hospitals
are something to aspire to

ImprovforLawyers said...

I believe that Mr. Moore was not saying we should aspire to be like Cuba when it comes to health care. He was using Cuba to embarrass those in authority in to seeing what a national crisis this has become.

And yes ----there has got to be a better way. 40 million people + is a national crisis.

Why isn't health care at least as important as education? Roads? National defense? Makes no sense to me.

Politamonkey said...

At the very least, I give you a lot of credit for posting Mulshine's article which articulates a point so much better then you do. After everything he said you still have the audacity to say that the Clinton's were right for promoting universal health care? Unbelievable.

ImprovforLawyers said...

Well...uh, yeah.

I think it's the word 'universal' that gets me thinkin', "Why do 47 million people lack health coverage in the world's richest nation?".

The for-profit health care system is a failure. It does not work. Families, children go without health care. So, we need to set a higher standard. And the Clintons got that right.

Everyone deserves affordable and sustainable health care. It is one of the bench marks of a civilized society.

Anonymous said...

If you saw yesterday's piece on the Wisconsin Democratic Party's foray into "universal" health care -- more than doubling the state budget and costing every worker an additional $500 per month in taxes -- you'd understand the depth of the problem. Around the world, governmental solutions trade freedom for comprehensiveness -- everyone gets the same mediocre product -- and ration through deliberate unavailability, through price controls, or care denial for certain conditions. No plan, anywhere else, provides the sort of care and choice that our system does for the 85% of the folks who ARE adequately insured.

And your use of the phrase "for profit" is curiously careless for a lawyer. Is it objectionable for an insurance company to make money, but not for a doctor, nurse, or technician? Do you believe that the massive numbers of governmental workers necessary to administer a health care system will do so for free? Compare efficiencies between public and private schools if you want a taste of what governmental control over healthcare would be like.

I don't know you and, hence, cannot cast aspersions, but what, precisely, are you PERSONALLY doing to make health care more affordable? Are you volunteering? Donating to health care charities? Maybe you are, but far too many leftists who preach on this subject consider their obligation to their fellow man to end when they complete their daily blog entry.

ImprovforLawyers said...

You hit the nail squarely on the head with your comment that is so true ---"No plan, anywhere else, provides the sort of care and choice that our system does for the 85% of the folks who ARE adequately insured."

And that my Anonymous Right-wing friend IS the point. I favor a system that does not fail to give adequate health care to 47 million people, the ones we can count. I favor a system that does not over burden an already over burdened Emergency services system that provides health care at the last minute in the most expensive way possible.

And let's "compare efficiencies between public and private schools". Private schools do not have to educate everyone. Public schools do. Private schools do not have to accept those with disabilities. Public schools do. Private schools do not have to hire union labor of working families. Public schools do.

Want to make public education a thing of the past and leave it to the private sector to educate EVERYONE? If you think 47 million left out of the private health care system is an issue, just imagine who would be left out of your private education only system.

Some things are best done by all of us, and that is why they should remain a national priority. Education. Police protection. Fire protection. Health care, If left entirely to the private sector, some people would fail to receive needed services because it would not be "profitable". The for-profit health care system leaves out many people because it is not profitable for health insurance companies. Stock holders benefit, but not those in need of health care.

It amazes me that neo-cons will continue to extoll the virtues of a system that fails to provide for 47 million people. You need to raise your standards.

And what am I doing personally to make sure health care is more affordable? I am a political activist, ----and affordable, sustainable health care for all is one of my passions. I will continue to battle your side's advocacy of our failed system.

And, of course, I think doctors, nurses, should be paid for their hard work. I just think that a system that fails to provide health care for an ever growing population needs to be changed, to benefit all ---not just a select few who can afford it.

The for-profit health care system is not making a profit by and large because they create and distribute a better product. They make a profit because they cut costs by not providing services to those who are most in need. That is like a private school being more 'effecient' than a public school by choosing not to educate those who would not make them more profitable ---not educating those whose inclusion in their school would give them a worse ROI.

Education and healthacre both are too important to be treated in that way.

Rusty Charlie said...

i just love when repubes/neocons say "this may sound cruel, but..."

Because almost all their ideas, thoughts and actions ARE cruel and they seem to be slowly owning up to it.

ImprovforLawyers said...

This is true. If they recognize that it may "sound" cruel, the result is that it usually IS cruel to some segment of society.

Anonymous said...

The US spends buckets of cash on administration that could be eliminated with a single-payer
system. Furthermore, why are all these neocons so worried. Bizz interest groups will control the legislative process to run off with the profits and socialize the risk/cost

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Anonymous said...

The livestock supplements a diet of rice, beans and not much else. This points to the sole unique accomplishment of the Cuban socialists in the area of health care.