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Universal Health Care Doesn’t Mean Universally Good Care

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The Democratic presidential candidates think they have the cure for what ails America’s health care system. Each professes, if elected, to offer their version of true “universal” coverage.

Senator Hillary Clinton wants to make all Americans purchase health insurance from either the government, their employer or some other private entity and will demand that everyone do so. Oh really, Commandant Clinton? So you think we don’t have health care because we are acting like willful children spending our vast disposable income on things like housing, food and transportation? And if we don’t comply, she’s going to let us have it. How? She hasn’t figured out the appropriate punishment yet or won’t say for fear of reprisal.

Pretty John Edwards (sorry, I can’t resist — no, I don’t hate him because he’s beautiful) proposes essentially the same thing but outlines specific penalties including the garnishing of wages or “actions” by collection agencies. And Big Bad John is going to have members of Congress by the family jewels – threatening to take away their health insurance — if they don’t go along with his plan. Oh, I love it when he gets tough. NOT!

Of the three, Barack Obama’s plan is the most reasonable, “requiring only that parents obtain coverage for their children.” Who can argue against that? He thinks no one, not even Republicans in Congress will take issue with it. It’s essentially the expansion S-Chip program that President Bush has repeatedly vetoed.

Yes, Americans do need adequate health care coverage. But even if every citizen is “fully covered” the delivery of that care will still remain a problem. Medical mistakes abound. Recently, we have heard of the death of Donda West, mother of rapper Kanye West, from complications due to plastic surgery and actor Dennis Quaid’s infant twins becoming ill as the result of receiving a massive overdose of a blood thinner while in a Los Angeles hospital.

Since the candidates have not addressed health care delivery, do they believe that poor, and/or potentially life-threatening care is better than no care?

Even people, like my mother, who have excellent coverage, are fully aware of the disparities in health care and have taken what might seem to be extraordinary measures to get their needs met.

My mother, Miss Ruby to you, has gone so far as to travel from her one time home in Montgomery, Alabama to her now current home in Minneapolis, Minnesota to visit a dentist. Are there dentists in Montgomery? Of course, but none who met her discriminating, “unreasonable” standards.

You see, my mother insists that her physician speak to her personally after each visit to discuss the results of tests or examinations. She insists that he/she give her medication suited to the ailment that she is purported to have. And she doesn’t want the doctor to rape her insurance company by charging for unnecessary procedures that he/she knows it will reimburse since my mother has two providers — Blue Cross and Blue Shield as well as Medicare.

And don’t think of walking into her examining room wearing the same gloves you wore while examining the last patient expecting to put your hands on her body. Oh, hell no. If you do so, be prepared to get dressed down -– Southern lady style with of a heaping dose of New York bravado.

When an Alabama dentist decided he was going to pull some troublesome teeth, she said, “No way”. She may not have been born with all of her teeth; she damn sure was going to die with all of them and walked out of the office. A few months later, Miss Ruby traveled to Minneapolis where a dentist told her that she didn’t need to have them removed after all. My mother was told in so many words that dental care in Alabama was inferior.

I lived in Montgomery, Alabama for nearly six years and it wasn’t uncommon for well-to-do ladies that lunch and their husbands to travel to places like North Carolina and Houston for important medical procedures.

Most people aren’t like my mother and the ladies that lunch, who have excellent retirement benefits and/or the disposable income to travel.

In truth, no amount of “coverage” will make a doctor keep abreast of the most current procedures, give the proper dosage of a medication, or change his/her gloves before visiting the next patient.

Only if we can create and adhere to a standard under which a person in rural Alabama can receive the same good quality of care as a socialite living on New York City’s Upper West Side, will we have achieved “universal health care." This is not the level of care which the plans from Clinton, Obama, and Edwards would provide.

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About Carla Thompson

  • jacksmith

    Insurance mandates are not universal health care. And politicians should stop calling it that. Nothing is Universal Health Care except “Single Payer Not For Profit Tax Supported Government Managed Health Care” (HR 676). Insurance mandates will be worse than what you have now. And what you have now is a complete, and total disgrace, and horror show. Insurance mandates will (require) you to buy insurance from the private insurance companies that have been ripping you off, and killing you by the thousands.

    The #1 cause of injury, disability, and DEATH in America is, Health Care. More people die now from contact with the American Medical Health Care system than from any other cause of death. More than from Cancer, Heart disease, or Stroke. More than any other country in the world. Many times more than any other people in the world. Contact with the American medical health care system is the #1 risk factor now for injury, disability, and premature DEATH in America. This fact is a catastrophic indictment of the entire US Health Care System.

    Driven by greed. And a rush to profit. Thousands of Americans are killed, and injured daily in America. By compromised health care. Cutting corners. Over, and under treatments. And poisonings with all manor of toxic, poisonous pharmaceuticals. Especially the children. America only makes up 2-4% of the world population. But Americans buy, and consume 50% of all pharmaceuticals world wide.

    This is an emergency. America is in a crisis. And more Americans have died from this health care crisis than have died in all the wars in US history.

    But the tide has turned. And the message is getting out. And taking hold about the fact that we have a very serious, and major health care crisis going on in America. Hurting everyone. Especially our precious little children. Rich, and poor alike. And most all Americans seem to understand now that “HR 676 Not For Profit Single Payer Universal National Health Care For All (Medicare For All)” is the way to go. Like all the other developed countries have done. Americans want government managed, tax payer supported health care Now. Medicare for all. Like other developed countries have. And like older Americans have now. Accept no substitute.

    I am sick and tired of hearing how the candidates, and politicians health care plans are going to protect, and preserve the private for profit health insurance companies that have been killing, and ripping off the American people. And now the politicians want to mandate (require) that every American has to support the private for profit insurance company’s that have been killing, and ripping you off. Or you will be fined, and PENALIZED. Thats right. PENALIZED. Ridiculous! The politicians really think you are all detached idiots. CASH COWS! To lead to the slaughter. Don’t put up with that.

    Just look at what is already happening with Massachusetts insurance mandates. It’s a catastrophe. Financially, and medically for all the people of Massachusetts. And the private insurance companies just raised their rates by as much as 16%. And everyone has to pay now. It’s a slaughter.

    It’s NOW TIME to bring out the BIG GUNS!! The BIG GUNS!! are you. The American people. And anyone else that wants to help. From now until HR 676 is passed into law. I want every person to reach out and touch their fellow Americans every day if you can. I want you to take a phone book. And call at least one of your fellow Americans every day. And ask them to pickup the sword of HR 676 Single Payer Not For Profit Universal Health Care For All (Medicare For All).

    Call more than one each day if you can. And ask them to do the same as you are doing if they can. And also to put maximum pressure on their politicians to get HR 676 done. And to make sure their politicians support HR 676. Accept no substitute. HR 676 is a no-brainer. It’s the best way to go on health care. It’s the only moral, and ethical way to go. That is why every other developed country has done it. Most did it years ago. See sickocure.org, and house.gov/conyers/news_hr676.htm

    I know that many of you have been doing a fabulous job of spreading the word by talking it up with family, friends, and co-workers. And putting pressure on the politicians to get HR 676 done ASAP. The phone calls to your fellow Americans will increase the pressure. And increase momentum for HR 676 at an astonishing, and exponential rate. And I know many of you have been wanting to do something more to help. The phone calls to your fellow Americans is something you can do every day to help.

    Trust me. It will be something to see. But you have to keep the focus, and pressure on getting HR 676 passed pronto. They will try to distract you. With all manor of other crises, and catastrophes. And other plans. Don’t be distracted. HR 676 Single Payer Not For Profit Universal Health Care is the #1 concern of the American people. Thousands of Americans are dieing daily now. And you or your loved ones could be next.

    There is no good reason HR 676 cannot be passed into law well before the coming elections. And SCHIP should have been passed by now. Even if it was for 3x the 35 billion congress ask for. Do not tolerate delays. If it is not passed before the coming elections. All America will know which politicians are on the side of the American people. And which are not when they vote. Well before the elections. This is supposed to be a democracy. And well over the majority of Americans want tax payer supported single payer government managed health care for free for all Americans as a right. Many of the politicians will be soliciting your financial, and political support for the coming elections. Make sure you send a note telling them that you expect them to support HR 676 if they expect you to support them.

    Everyone can do this. Most of you are well informed about HR 676. This truly is one of those no-brainers. Be considerate of your fellow Americans when you call. But be comfortable about calling. These are your fellow Americans. Some will be receptive. And some will not be. Some maybe rude, and mean. Just thank them, and move on to the next. Most will be with you. And if you get a call from one of your fellow Americans about HR 676. Let them know you are already on board. And thank them for calling. Build them up. And keep them strong. They are fighting for all of us.

    Keep fighting. Pickup that phone, and call your fellow Americans. It’s the right thing to do. You will win. Bless you all…

  • P.Marlowe

    Carla… I won’t replicate Jacksmith’s rant above…But I have to add that I’m tired of seeing people (and I’m not necessarily picking on you Carla) who bring out what is essentially a lame, sophomoric (and considered to be a clever “deal killer” of an argument) – asking “why” we think universal health care will be “perfect”.

    Who, advocating universal health care has ever said, or even suggested that the system would be without flaws?

    I am amazed when those desperately trying to prop up the old system act as if IT is the best system possible. As if all the other countries of the world that DO have UHC have populations dying in bulk because of its shortcomings…

    I think these same forces are going to have to come up with some other strategy – and soon. Americans realize that the only people arguing to hold onto this corrupt outrageously unfair system are those – the insurance companies, HMOs and pharmaceuticals = who stand to lose HUNDREDS of BILLIONS in a major restructuring…

    P.Marlowe

  • Merry Foxworth

    HR 676 is definitely the way to go. Let’s have an end to all the Band-Aid solutions. Get rid of the insurance companies, and make big pharma toe the line (see the book by Marcia Angell about the drug industry). Then there will be money enough to cover everyone.

    Instead of talking about “mandates”, everyone will be taxed just as we are now for SS and Medicare, end of story. People howl that they don’t want more taxes, but this will be a darn sight better than outrageous insurance premiums and inferior service!

    Once we do that, all physicians will have to toe the line and compete for our business, because we will be able to choose any GP and not be limited to some private insurer’s meager provider list. Then they will have to give us proper service.

    This should include using online capabilities for secure e-mail communication with doctors between visits, appointment scheduling, access to lab results, etc. etc.

    We have a shortage of GPs and an overabundance of specialists. Let’s give medical graduates some incentives to go into family practice. Perhaps some student loan forgiveness for becoming board-certified in family practice for starters, then more for each year he or she stays in family practice.

  • The Obnoxious American

    “make big pharma toe the line”

    Sure, and watch big pharma stop making all those new medicines that keep extending our lifespans because it’s not profitable. And then watch investment in big pharma dry up because it’s not profitable. And then watch the market drop as a result. Good idea.

    The reason why so many Americans such as myself, have a hard time with what you and the Democratic party as a whole is proposing, is because no attention is payed to these real and valid concerns. Candidates for 2008 spend hours talking about how they are going to totally revamp the medical industry. But how much have we heard about how they are going to keep investment in said industry strong?

    Killing the biotech industry, which based on your comments quoted above, is something you’d gladly accept for some free meds, will have major impacts on everyone in this country, even the very poor with no stock.

    Bush was right about vetoing schip, because congress was trying to expand it to become much more than something to help children (by your own words, 3x the cost). I think it’s rather shameful for people to continue to pretend that the veto is due to the heartlessness of the GOP or Bush, when the SChip bill has been totally redefined and thus vetoed.

    How about rather than government doing anything, we fix some of the flaws with the current system that works and have kept us alive and well?

    For a good counterpoint to this article, talking about why we should not do universal health care, I’d offer anyone here to read The Obnoxious American loves Hillary. Also, for a more cohesive study of all the issues, Lets get real in 2008.

  • P.Marlowe

    That’s such a load of CRAP! Big Pharma going home and taking their pills with them?

    I wonder how it is everywhere ELSE in the world that other “Big Pharmas” aren’t so damn petulant? How it all manages to work in Canada, the UK, Germany, Sweden, etc, etc, etc.

    Stop the decades-old scare tactics…

    Try the truth for once.

    P.Marlowe

  • bliffle

    The amounts claimed for drugs are greatly exaggerated by the pharmas. Most pharmaceuticals are developed by the NIH, paid for by taxpayers, and thus the taxpayers have a legitimate claim on them. The pharmas spend more on advertising than R&D, and included in the advertising budget is their lobbying costs. Phama overhead is very high, probably 40%, whereas SS is about 3%.

    Many drugs that pharmas could develop and offer to patients are life-saving, but the pharmas don’t develop them because there is a better ROI on Lipitor and it’s competitors because of the mass market. People are dieing because of decisions made by pharma management.

    For the last 10 years or more the salaries of white-collar workers in pharmas have been the best across industries, especially among the upper management.

    I’m afraid that the USA medical system is failing because of a flawed theory, the theory being that if people only had the choice of private insurance or misery and death they would all signup for paid-for healthcare. But 40 million uninsured citizens argue otherwise. Instead the health industry has used the threat to raise premiums and restrict enrollment.

    Too bad that people have to suffer and die because of a flawed theory.

  • jacksmith

    Insurance mandates are not universal health care. And politicians should stop calling it that. Nothing is Universal Health Care except “Single Payer Not For Profit Tax Supported Government Managed Health Care” (HR 676). Insurance mandates will be worse than what you have now. And what you have now is a complete, and total disgrace, and horror show. Insurance mandates will (require) you to buy insurance from the private insurance companies that have been ripping you off, and killing you by the thousands.

    The #1 cause of injury, disability, and DEATH in America is, Health Care. More people die now from contact with the American Medical Health Care system than from any other cause of death. More than from Cancer, Heart disease, or Stroke. More than any other country in the world. Many times more than any other people in the world. Contact with the American medical health care system is the #1 risk factor now for injury, disability, and premature DEATH in America. This fact is a catastrophic indictment of the entire US Health Care System.

    Driven by greed. And a rush to profit. Thousands of Americans are killed, and injured daily in America. By compromised health care. Cutting corners. Over, and under treatments. And poisonings with all manor of toxic, poisonous pharmaceuticals. Especially the children. America only makes up 2-4% of the world population. But Americans buy, and consume 50% of all pharmaceuticals world wide.

    This is an emergency. America is in a crisis. And more Americans have died from this health care crisis than have died in all the wars in US history.

    But the tide has turned. And the message is getting out. And taking hold about the fact that we have a very serious, and major health care crisis going on in America. Hurting everyone. Especially our precious little children. Rich, and poor alike. And most all Americans seem to understand now that “HR 676 Not For Profit Single Payer Universal National Health Care For All (Medicare For All)” is the way to go. Like all the other developed countries have done. Americans want government managed, tax payer supported health care Now. Medicare for all. Like other developed countries have. And like older Americans have now. Accept no substitute.

    I am sick and tired of hearing how the candidates, and politicians health care plans are going to protect, and preserve the private for profit health insurance companies that have been killing, and ripping off the American people. And now the politicians want to mandate (require) that every American has to support the private for profit insurance company’s that have been killing, and ripping you off. Or you will be fined, and PENALIZED. Thats right. PENALIZED. Ridiculous! The politicians really think you are all detached idiots. CASH COWS! To lead to the slaughter. Don’t put up with that.

    Just look at what is already happening with Massachusetts insurance mandates. It’s a catastrophe. Financially, and medically for all the people of Massachusetts. And the private insurance companies just raised their rates by as much as 16%. And everyone has to pay now. It’s a slaughter.

    It’s NOW TIME to bring out the BIG GUNS!! The BIG GUNS!! are you. The American people. And anyone else that wants to help. From now until HR 676 is passed into law. I want every person to reach out and touch their fellow Americans every day if you can. I want you to take a phone book. And call at least one of your fellow Americans every day. And ask them to pickup the sword of HR 676 Single Payer Not For Profit Universal Health Care For All (Medicare For All).

    Call more than one each day if you can. And ask them to do the same as you are doing if they can. And also to put maximum pressure on their politicians to get HR 676 done. And to make sure their politicians support HR 676. Accept no substitute. HR 676 is a no-brainer. It’s the best way to go on health care. It’s the only moral, and ethical way to go. That is why every other developed country has done it. Most did it years ago. See sickocure.org, and house.gov/conyers/news_hr676.htm

    I know that many of you have been doing a fabulous job of spreading the word by talking it up with family, friends, and co-workers. And putting pressure on the politicians to get HR 676 done ASAP. The phone calls to your fellow Americans will increase the pressure. And increase momentum for HR 676 at an astonishing, and exponential rate. And I know many of you have been wanting to do something more to help. The phone calls to your fellow Americans is something you can do every day to help.

    Trust me. It will be something to see. But you have to keep the focus, and pressure on getting HR 676 passed pronto. They will try to distract you. With all manor of other crises, and catastrophes. And other plans. Don’t be distracted. HR 676 Single Payer Not For Profit Universal Health Care is the #1 concern of the American people. Thousands of Americans are dieing daily now. And you or your loved ones could be next.

    There is no good reason HR 676 cannot be passed into law well before the coming elections. And SCHIP should have been passed by now. Even if it was for 3x the 35 billion congress ask for. Do not tolerate delays. If it is not passed before the coming elections. All America will know which politicians are on the side of the American people. And which are not when they vote. Well before the elections. This is supposed to be a democracy. And well over the majority of Americans want tax payer supported single payer government managed health care for free for all Americans as a right. Many of the politicians will be soliciting your financial, and political support for the coming elections. Make sure you send a note telling them that you expect them to support HR 676 if they expect you to support them.

    Everyone can do this. Most of you are well informed about HR 676. This truly is one of those no-brainers. Be considerate of your fellow Americans when you call. But be comfortable about calling. These are your fellow Americans. Some will be receptive. And some will not be. Some maybe rude, and mean. Just thank them, and move on to the next. Most will be with you. And if you get a call from one of your fellow Americans about HR 676. Let them know you are already on board. And thank them for calling. Build them up. And keep them strong. They are fighting for all of us.

    Keep fighting. Pickup that phone, and call your fellow Americans. It’s the right thing to do. You will win. Bless you all…

  • bliffle

    “Mandatory Health Insurance” will probably fail a constitutional test anyhow. One can hope that SCOTUS will not allow US children to be born, like plantation-born slave children 200 years ago, into servitude to the insurance companies.

  • Clavos

    Instead, they should be in servitude to the bureaucrats, as god and Jefferson intended.

  • Clavos

    L’etat c’est merde.

    And merde is exactly what we’ll get if we give the health of the nation over to the government, just as merde is exactly what Medicare dishes out now.

    From $600 hammers we’ll go to $1,000 bedpans.

  • Jacob

    The only legislation that will improve health care in this country is legislation outlawing greed. ignorance and incompetence. The way to begin is to outlaw corrupt politicians.

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    The problem, as I see it, is that none of the declared candidates from either side of the aisle have either the inclination or the cojones to propose actual universal or nationalised health care. Horror of horrors! Socialized medicine! And to further bolster the argument against it, NHC opponents are also quick to point out any shortcomings of other countries’ systems

    As P. Marlowe suggests above, no system, however well structured and implemented will be perfect. There are and will be flaws and gaps in any such system. Given the large size that an American health care system would necessarily be, there no doubt would be a number of glaring failures and missteps, especially early on. “I told you so” attacks would be relentless.

    Oddly, the opponents of “socialized medicine” often are quick to defend and support the VA, and rightly so. The VA works! If the VA is not a perfect example of socialized medicine, I don’t know what is. While these people claim that government involvement in health care will amount to a cluster f**k (in deference to Carla,) they seem to miss the fact that that same government administers the VA. Hmmm!

    Unless and until some president and/or some Congress finally lets the other shoe drop and approves a national/universal health care system taken wholly out of the private sector, the gross inequities and failures of our current system will prevail (note today’s announcement regarding a study that indicates that uninsured cancer patients die at a much higher rate than those with medical insurance.)

    Carla, I am not a fan of Clinton’s, or for that matter, any candidate’s current proposals to “fix” our health care system. Clinton likely still has nightmares about her previous foray into the forbidden land of national health care proposals.

    I also agree that the old argument NHC opponents make regarding the response of the pharmaceutical companies is a lot of hooey. They still do research and development in other countries, some of which have NHC. It is naive to suggest that these companies would just fold up their tents and abandon the development of new drugs. That is their life’s blood. Eli Lilly will not survive long depending on Cialis sales. These companies will find ways to function within a nationalized system and still realize a profit. Maybe not obscene profits. Maybe the respective pharma CEOs will have to attempt to get by without their yearly one hundred million dollar bonuses. It might mean that their spouses will have to start clipping coupons to make ends meet, but then, a little humility and belt tightening never hurt anyone.

    B-tone (aka TLS)

    P.S. Carla, what did you think of today’s show? Again, I think we stayed with one topic – good ole’ Mikey Huckleberry – too long. There’s obviously lots to say about the man, but there’s lots to say about a lot of things.

    I have no idea if anyone actually listens to the show. I often feel like we’re talking into a vacuum. Hope not, though.

  • Jacob

    “The VA works! If the VA is not a perfect example of socialized medicine, I don’t know what is.”

    You must be kidding.

    The VA is not a perfect example of any system of medicine.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    The only legislation that will improve health care in this country is legislation outlawing greed. ignorance and incompetence. The way to begin is to outlaw corrupt politicians.

    And let’s outlaw rain during the daytime and mean people and ugly babies!

    Or maybe we should be sensible instead and punish those who harm others as an example to those who might do the same.

    Dave

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Jacob,

    Not sure what you mean, exactly. I have been a VA patient for nearly 10 years now. No, it’s not perfect, but I certainly have no complaints about my care. I think that there are a number of people here who will attest to that as well.

    But I think the VA most certainly does qualify as a great example of socialized medicine. What else would you call it?

    B-tone

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    I have no idea if anyone actually listens to the show. I often feel like we’re talking into a vacuum. Hope not, though.

    It WOULD be nice to get a caller, wouldn’t it.

    IMO we should have made time to talk about healthcare in the context of Carla’s article. But that could have easily filled another hour.

    Dave

  • Silver Surfer

    Carla, I live in a country (Australia) that has really good, quality universal health care (with the odd fuck up, but you know, what can you do? It’s never perfect even when you’re paying).

    It works just fine, it’s complemented by private health insurance if you want it (which I do because I’m considered a high earner and otherwise would have to pay a special levy at the end of the financial year, losing much of my tax return) but this additional private cover isn’t that costly and entitles you to a tax break – and in three recent cases of serious family illness, most has been covered by our free system with any difference in our private choice (day, doctor of your own choosing, private room etc) covered as a “gap” option, my out-of-pocket expenses: zilch.

    You know, when you’re sick, or someone in the family is sick, the last thing you want to be worried about is losing jobs, forgoing health insurance and mortgages, and potential bankruptcy. It’s amazing how a universal free system, if it’s good, will ease those kinds of head miles.

    Our recent three bouts of care were two in private hospitals (me and my wife, but much of the service covered by our free Medicare system) and the other involved my youngest child in a public hospital.

    The public one, I have to say, was outstanding. She was never alone for a second, a paramedic in a four-wheel drive arrived within minutes to stabilise her, and when the ambulance proper arrived she was rushed to the paediatric ward at the local hospital and given a battery of tests: x-rays for skull and neck, cat scan, MRI a bit later, etc.

    Last week, she went to see a professor of neurology at a specialised (free) children’s hospital that is about the size of an average suburb. The cost, again, zilch.

    Today, the $500 ambulance bill arrived. Most of it is covered ny Medicare, but my inexpensice family gap insurance takes care of the rest. The out of pocket cost: not quite zilch, but close.

    My wife works as a registered nurse at one of the world’s top heart/lung transplant units (St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney), and none of the patients there are private. The care they receice is world class, and outsanding, even though the nurses are underpaid (as most are) and overworked.

    Again, the cost for those patients is zilch.

    As I always advise Americans: just because it ain’t invented over there and you’ve never had it, doesn’t mean a) it won’t work, or b) it isn’t good. Plus, Americans are a “can do” mob, so I can’t see why it wouldn’t work in the US.

    Our experience: Any government here of either persuasion (right, or left) trying to dismantle it would be committing instant political suicide.

    That’s how much we love it, despite the odd serious problem, and 30 years ago when it was first introduced and we moved from the private-insurance only American-style system we had, everyone was very sceptical.

    Even though no hospital was theoretically allowed to turn patients away in the old days, people sometimes were.

    And lo and behold, the current system, rather than cost jobs it’s created more, even in the health insurance industry where many more services are now offered.

    It’s taken 30 years to iron out the bugs, but it works nicely, so perhaps Hillary could come over here and have another look and you could learn from our lessons :)

    Just don’t go down the British route, though.

  • Clavos

    “But I think the VA most certainly does qualify as a great example of socialized medicine. What else would you call it?”

    As a VA patient of many years standing myself, I emphatically agree with B-tone as to the quality of medicine practiced there, and especially as to the compassion and enthusiasm shown by those who provide that medicine.

    However, I equally emphatically disagree with the statement that the VA is a great example of socialized medicine. First of all, it is providing medical care to a relatively small cohort of patients of approximately 5.5 million, NOT the 300+ million that a UHC plan will have to cover.

    Secondly, the VA does its job well, but at enormous expense; it is NOT efficient from a financial aspect; it is one of the most expensive services the government provides, with a budget of over $80 billion in 2007. Despite near constant allegations in the MSM and elsewhere of neglect and parsimony by the Bush administration, the VA’s budget has grown 77% during the Bush years.

    It is a gargantuan bureaucracy in terms of employment. At almost a quarter of a million employees, it is second only to the Department of Defense, outstripping even such bloated examples as Homeland Security and Medicare.

    With their enormous budgets and bloated, inefficient bureaucracies, the VA and Medicare are the harbingers of what’s to come with UHC.

    With UHC, health care is certain to cost the country more, not less, than we now pay in the aggregate.

  • TomTomorrowToday

    Jacksmith and Sliver Surfer: I’ve come to terms that you see universal health care (i.e. single payer) as the solution without factoring the practical downsides.

    You’re comfortable having the government run managed care (to whatever capacity or degree).
    I’m not comfortable with the government controlling my health care choices.

    Q1) I know the health care in Europe, Australia, and Canada may seem good to an outside observer, but have you gone out of your way to search for critics of this system?
    Q2) Have you independently searched for proponents of free-market health care and considered their arguments?

    I’ve researched both of the above with open eyes and no preconceived opinions to determine the solution for fair, affordable, high-quality, and comprehensible health care is in the free-market without government regulation.

    Bonus Q3) Please name a product or service the government provides that’s better than the unregulated free market…(remember the EPA legally allows pollution which wouldn’t be allowed if air and property rights were enforced!!)

    I’ve lived your system of single payer while living in Norway for many years. I’ve seen people die on waiting lists, elderly refused treatment and witnessed technologies in hospitals that are many decades old.

    I watched Sicko.

    The problem with health care in America is the lobby surrounding Medicare/Medicaid and the corruption rampant in the way laws are written. Any plan via Kucinich, Hillary, Obama, Edwards, etc. would have to appease their lobby of constituents and the problems of today would be guaranteed to carry forward to some degree or another. Even Hillary’s health care proposal mentions drugs dozens of times with diet and exercise getting only a single mention. Of course her program was written by a drug company lobby.

    You trust the government and lobbyists to decide the quality and scope of your health.
    I’d say our current system is all the reason I need to not trust the government. I don’t believe their promises any more.

    Here’s a solution from a REAL American doctor who knows politics and the system.

    Do you really trust the government with your life?

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I have no idea if anyone actually listens to the show. I often feel like we’re talking into a vacuum. Hope not, though.

    You’ll get listeners… and callers. Early doors, as idiom-mangling English football coaches like to say.

    I’ve every intention of listening myself once I get a moment and the dust of Christmas dies down. I did click on the link briefly last night – wasn’t able to listen for long because my wife had Christmas music blaring out of the stereo! I was quite surprised to hear that Dave’s voice sounds pretty much exactly as I imagined it would.

    Which means, Stan, that he also probably really does look like that and your daughter doesn’t need the stress…

    ;-)

  • troll

    …I’ve listened to each show after the fact – good stuff

    have you guys thought about playing with formats eg a segment devoted to discussing the ‘art’ of political writing

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Q3) Please name a product or service the government provides that’s better than the unregulated free market…(remember the EPA legally allows pollution which wouldn’t be allowed if air and property rights were enforced!!)

    That’s an easy one. Roads paid for with state gas taxes which are essentially a user fee. Way better than roads paid for with tolls collected by foreign contractors at exorbitant rates.

    dave

  • Jacob

    “But I think the VA most certainly does qualify as a great example of socialized medicine. What else would you call it?”

    — Baritone

    Perfunctory.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Just don’t go down the British route, though.

    Well, you can’t blame us for trying. We were, after all, pioneers of socialized medicine – the first non-communist society to implement comprehensive government-provided health care – so we didn’t really have anything to model it on. No surprise a lot of it ended up not working too well.

    But at least it’s there, and although it fails some of the people who really need it the most, I do have to say that if you’re an average healthy person who doesn’t need more than an annual medical checkup or the occasional ER visit, it removes almost all of the hassle.

  • Jacob

    “if you’re an average healthy person who doesn’t need more than an annual medical checkup or the occasional ER visit, it removes almost all of the hassle.”

    In other words, it’s great for healthy people.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Isn’t that what I said?

    Living in the US as I now do, I find it an absolute pain in the bum to fuck around for weeks every November trying to arrange coverage for health services which I probably won’t need just so that I won’t end up bankrupt if I ever do.

  • Silver Surfer

    Doc: “Early doors, as idiom-mangling English football coaches like to say”

    Doc, I realise I might sound like the Berlin Wall of pedantry on this one,and hate to disavow you of the quite accurate notion that pommy football coaches are manglers of the language … (just like Aussie Rugby League coaches, who are fond of such gems as: “The boys done good today and played hard”, “we stuck to our guns and come up with the two points”, “all credit to the the Roosters/Eels/Broncos/Storm (etc), they really give it to us in that last 10 minutes, but we had a game plan and the boys stuck to it”, “we’re just taking it week by week now” and that classic, “Mate, it was a game of two halves but the boys dug deep and come up with the goods”.

    You could just about stick a different head on a coach/player/captain every week and use the same quotes.

    However, early doors is actually a legitimate phrase used in english, and literally means what it says. As a man of the theatre, you need to know this. I also used to laugh about it until a mate of mine appropriately nicknamed Pigeon (let’s not go there though) showed me an old poster.

    Back in the (good) old days, a show or sports event poster might have said, “Starts 7pm, early doors 5.30″. So they actually used to open the doors early to let people in so there wouldn’t be a crush at the last minute.

    However, you are right to a point: sometimes the term “early days” might better fit the sentence …

    (*pokes out tongue, and sticks thumbs in region of ears whilst waggling fingers and saying ner, ner ner ner ner*)

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Yes. Stan, but “early doors” doesn’t quite fit in the context of footie (of whichever code). I suppose some manager heard it once and liked the sound of it, and now all the others copy him.

    Sadly, idiom-mangling may be a dying art in the English Premier League, what with all the foreign coaches who struggle with basic English, never mind the colloquial variety. Our new national coach, Signor Capello, apparently doesn’t speaka da lingo at all, and I pity the interpreter who has to find English translations for whatever the Italian equivalents of “he’s stayed onside and stuck it in the onion bag” or “the boy done brilliant” are.

    One exception is Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger, a Frenchman with a masterful command of English, who seems to take delight in stuffing as many football clichés as possible into his post-match interviews.

  • Silver Surfer

    Tom Tomorrow: “I’ve seen people die on hospital waiting lists”.

    I’ve seen ‘em die on private-hospital waiting lists too. We don’t have waiting lists in Australia for life-threatening conditions that require surgery, so that knocks that one-argument argument on the head.

    Waiting lists tend to be for things that can acutually wait without causing a problem, but if you have a heart attack in Australia, or present at a hospital with even slight chest pain, you’ll be on the ward and possibly in the operating theatre within five minutes. So with respect, don’t give me that fucking bollocks.

    We’ve spent 30 years refining our system and I guess if an entire nation used to the best in most things loves it, despite its few failings, that says a lot more than one travelling American who’s visited Norway. Volumes, actually. How it works is this: I’m a high earner, so I pay more in tax to fund the system. My son, who earns virtually nothing because he’s 20 and a lazy bastard, pays nothing. But even it was Mrs Smith’s son down the road, I’m not worried. You get my drift. You know, sometimes living in a really good country is as much about the concept of community as it is about wages and standard of living, and it’s a combination of all such things that make a place desirable.

    And for Doc, yes, you are right mate. You were pioneers. As I pointed out to someone the other day, if you suffer trauma in the UK, a car accident for instance, the same ambulance service turns up and takes you to the same kind of hospital and the same kind of operating theatre whether you are the Queen of England or a drag queen in Soho.

    That is one aspect Brits love, and believe it or not, most foreign visitors find it impressive too. Under those circumstances, the UK system is great as there is no financial worry and the ambos certainly are well trained and reliable as are the doctors and nurses, who in many cases, and often despite the best attempts of bureaucrats, can and often are right up there when it comes to world’s best practice in diagnosis, surgery, treatment and care (life expectancy in the UK is actually higher than it is in the US too .. go figure, as you say over there. Must be all that bloody tea you drink) .

    However, it’s other aspects of the UK’s national health that are a disaster and could be addressed (somewhow): like two hours in a hospital waiting room with 50 other gibberers, most of whom are suffering from conditions like a cough or a sore finger, etc. Still, at least the Poms, like us, don’t have the worry about all this that our American cousins do when it comes to maintaing jobs, health care payments and paying bills when get ill.

    Can’t speak for the Canadians, but I’m sure being Canadian it wouldn’t be a bad system.

    As we are both lovers of our American cousins, we are also aware of the foibles of some Americans: one of those is arrogance and another is ignorance when it comes to any working knowledge or genuine understanding of anything that happens outside the US.

    Joined together, they often loosely translate as: “We didn’t invent it so it can’t be any good, and because of that it won’t work.”

    To that, I say: bollocks.

    Give it a go America – under the current state of the US health care system, what on Earth have you got to lose? Seriously. It’s in crisis there, especially when you hear of fellows like Jet falling on hard times because of medical bills.

    I don’t know about the UK, but in Oz, legally, his employer could not have sacked him (at any point for illness), would have to have kept paying him full wages for a considerable time and part wages thereafter, and he wouldn’t have had any out-of-pocket expenses. You know, for the life of me I can’t understand how people don’t see the benefit of these things.

    But I’ll add a rider to all this: if you are going down this path America, do the fucking thing properly and learn from the mistakes of others.

    My tip here, given that the Yanks do a lot of things extremely well, would be that if they do get such a system (and I think it’s a case of when, not if), it will be one of the best in the world.

    And then they’ll love it (whilst ocassionally complaining about it), the same as the rest of us).

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    it’s other aspects of the UK’s national health that are a disaster and could be addressed (somewhow): like two hours in a hospital waiting room with 50 other gibberers, most of whom are suffering from conditions like a cough or a sore finger, etc.

    Well, that’s not a uniquely British problem. My wife ended up in the ER of the hospital she works at (she was as embarrassed as hell!) a few months ago after developing stroke-like symptoms. Eight hours of hanging around on a gurney later – in the company of the aforementioned gibberers – they determined that it was probably just a complex migraine and discharged her.

    It’s in crisis there, especially when you hear of fellows like Jet falling on hard times because of medical bills.

    Yeah, Jet’s story damn near broke my heart when I read it. Although as he himself admits, some of it was his own fault for not planning ahead sufficiently. Nevertheless, it just shows that however well-insured you think you are, some apparently trivial problem can send your life snowballing out of control.

    Let’s all send Jet some good thoughts as he goes in for heart surgery after Christmas.

  • Merry Foxworth

    “You trust the government and lobbyists to decide the quality and scope of your health…Do you really trust the government with your life?”

    Do you trust the INSURANCE COMPANIES with yours? They have taken over running the health care system in the US. At least the stated aim of the government is to be “of the people, by the people, and for the people” (where this has fallen down is because of the failure of the people to hold them to it) while the stated aim of corporations is to earn profits for the owners or shareholders; nothing more, nothing less. This is a totally mutually exclusive goal to that of providing health care.

  • Jacob

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — The family of a 17-year-old girl who died hours after her health insurer reversed a decision and said it would pay for a liver transplant plans to sue the company, their attorney said Friday.

    Nataline Sarkisyan died Thursday at about 6 p.m. at the University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center. She had been in a vegetative state for weeks, said her mother, Hilda.

    Attorney Mark Geragos said he plans to ask the district attorney to press murder or manslaughter charges against Cigna HealthCare in the case. The insurer “maliciously killed her” because it did not want to bear the expense of her transplant and aftercare, Geragos said.

    Nataline had been battling leukemia and received a bone marrow transplant from her brother. She developed a complication that caused her liver to fail.

    Doctors at UCLA determined she needed a transplant and sent a letter to Cigna Corp.’s Cigna HealthCare on Dec. 11. The Philadelphia-based health insurance company denied payment for the transplant, saying the procedure was experimental and outside the scope of coverage.

    The insurer reversed the decision Thursday as about 150 teenagers and nurses rallied outside of its office. But Nataline died hours later.

    Despite the reversal, Cigna said in an e-mail statement before she died that there was a lack of medical evidence showing the procedure would work in Nataline’s case.

  • Dan Miller

    I must admit to being confused.

    Why is it that so many people who constantly complain that the Government is corrupt, incompetent, inefficient and worse, also feel that Government is capable of solving all of society’s problems? I don’t recall recently having read anything praising Government effusively. The (elected) lawmakers, the Congress, are at the lowest confidence rating in recent memory. The (elected) executive branch is hardly popular, and the (unelected) judiciary isn’t all that well regarded either. Nor do the hundreds of thousands of appointed government officials seem to be very highly regarded. The above comments do not, of course, take into account the effusive praise which the elected and appointed “civil servants” heap upon themselves and their cohorts.

    So from where are the highly competent, honest, efficient, selfless and intelligent folks who are going to run universal health care going to come? A new species of Government official, perhaps? With the writers’ strike, maybe a collection of pop tarts and Hollywood’s other finest could be enlisted to do the job. Talk show hosts? News readers? It might be worth a try, and could hardly be much worse.

    There are some problems to which there are no solutions, and even more solutions for which there are no problems. Above average, or even average, health care for everybody is an unrealizable illusion; even in Lake Woebegone, where all the women are good looking and all the children are above average, it is impossible. Well, not quite impossible; the average could, of course, be reduced to the point that we could all have the same abysmal level of health care, and this might also diminish the Social Security System burdens by killing off lots of people, particularly those who fund he system. I do not think that this is the objective of those who insist upon universal health care, however.

    There are a few things which could help, such as tort reform, which is less popular than a whore in church and which is a topic for another day.

    My point, in case it may have been missed, is that Government take over is not a viable solution to the health care debacle in which the country finds itself.

  • bliffle

    “Why is it that so many people who constantly complain that the Government is corrupt, incompetent, inefficient and worse, also feel that Government is capable of solving all of society’s problems?”

    I suppose it’s because they’ve found that corporations, in particular Health Insurance Companies, are even more corrupt and inefficient, and that their various monopolies and oligopolies enable them to raise prices and refuse service arbitrarily.

    ” I don’t recall recently having read anything praising Government effusively.””

    Gee, I just read an article here on BC that praised the VA, and I’ve read others praising Medicare.

    The conclusion I reached is thet the Privatized Health system has abused the privileges that they have, and they use their immense money resources to bribe elected officials with “campaign contributions”.

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Jacob,

    Curious as to why you say that? Do you have personal experience as a VA patient?

    B-tone

  • Jacob

    I have personal experience with the VA. There are good people working within the VA but the system and procedures leave much to be desired.

  • STM

    Dan Miller: “Why is it that so many people who constantly complain that the Government is corrupt, incompetent, inefficient and worse, also feel that Government is capable of solving all of society’s problems?”

    Dan, I live in Australia, where the (recently thrown out) government changed the nation’s industrial laws, which went back to about 1907 when the first minimum wage was set, and which have taken a century to thrash out and evolve and which gave workers here the most generous wages and working conditions of any western nation.

    It had never affected our prosperity. The opposite, probably, and employers liked it too since most wage increases, penalty rates, annual leave loadings, overtime etc were tied in with productivity increases. They also guaranteed that people could not be arbitrarily sacked or unfairly dismissed, and certainly not for reasons such as ongoing genuine illness – where employers, and quite rightly in my view – were obligated to keep paying wages.

    The previous government did away with it in one fell swoop, and called its new laws WorkChoices. We all called it NoChoices. They asked us to trust employers instead, to give it a go, and we all thought: OK, we will.

    But within a few weeks of the new laws coming into force two years ago, all the things we feared would happen started to happen. Businesses making huge profits started doing things like sacking people and then giving those same people their jobs back as casuals, and on much less and with no rights permanent employees get; took away annual leave loadings, penalty rates, etc. A lot of women and young first-time jobseekers were also affected. The notion was: “You are lucky to have a job”. Well, that’s true, but we all had the fu.king things before, as well … and I don’t want to be taking a $300 a week pay cut while some CEO in charge of a company that runs itself is pocketing an extra $10 million bonus. Sorry, it just doesn’t wash.

    A few weeks back, that government was booted out of office in one of their party’s worst ever defeats – and at a time of unbelievable prosperity brought about by the mining boom in Western Australia feeding the Asian manufacturing powerhouses.

    So yes, mate, my experience is that I’d rather trust a government with compassion and a real sense of community, and for all their failings, that government’s bureaucrats, than people whose only concern is how to make an extra buck at someone else’s expense.

    Most of my countrymen and women felt the same way too, which is a) why we have a new government and b) why I chose to keep living here and not in the US when I had the chance (great place that it is, nevertheless).

  • Jacob

    According to a study of national costs attributed to both overweight and obesity, medical expenses accounted for 9.1 percent of total U.S. medical expenditures in 1998 and may have reached as high as $78.5 billion. Approximately half of these costs were paid by Medicaid and Medicare.

    Why should other taxpayers be saddled with the costs of obesity?

    (I forgot to mention the medical cost of smoking.)

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Not to get on a soapbox, but, as I indicated, I have been a patient with the VA for about 10 years or so. I should also preface this to say that I am a Vietnam Era vet, but I did not serve outside the U.S., unless you count a couple of drunken skirmishes in the border town Ciudad Acuna, Mexico. I came out of the service pretty much unscathed.

    In those ten or so years I have received consistent and thorough care. I have had the same primary care physician the entire time. I have rarely had to wait for more than 20 minutes for any appointment I’ve had. I receive notices via snail mail and phone to remind me of upcoming appointments.

    The facility here in Indy is, for the most part modern and reasonably up to date. Any equipment or services they can’t provide on site and/or in a timely manner, they out source to other local facilities (I had knee surgery a bit over a year ago at a private orthpaedic surgery clinic in town.) I could go on, but the gist of it is that I have no complaints. Hell, they even have a Starbucks adjacent to the cafeteria.

    I don’t know that my experience is typical throughout the system. I’m sure there are horror stories. I know of at least one here. But, overall they do a damn good job. It truly saves my bacon, because I have no medical insurance. Without access to the VA I might well either be dead, or debilitated.

    B-tone

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Clavos,

    Just a note concerning the 77% increase in the VA’s budget during the Bush years: What puts that into a bit of a different perspective is that during the nearly 7 years of Bush leadership, health care costs have also risen exponentially. Average medical insurance premiums have risen over 200% since 2000. Much of that 77% increase has likely been necessary just to keep pace with costs. Actual health care costs over the same period in the US have risen at an average of 8% to 12% per year depending on whose figures you choose to believe. Perhaps the Bushies were not being so generous as you would like to believe.

    B-tone

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Clav,

    ALSO! (I’m on a roll.)

    Note that over 42 billion dollars of that 80 billion dollar budget is earmarked for pensions, compensations and other benefits. The money gets disbursed in areas other than hospital and outpatient care, prosthetics and prescription drug costs.

    One hundred ten million dollars are set aside for development, maintenance and repair of military cemetaries. A drop in the overall bucket, maybe, but, hey, a hundred million here, fifty million there and before long you’re talking real money.

    It’s still an expensive proposition, but even given typical government waste, maybe, when it comes down to it, that’s what it takes to do the job. Would you suggest that they should cut funding? I doubt that the amount of waste in the VA is proportionally greater than that in other large government agencies. That’s certainly not a good thing, but it is no a reason to single out the VA for inefficiencies that are ubiquitous throughout government. How much military spending do you suppose is wasted, lost or actually stolen by whatever means? And where does most of that money go? To private industry, corporations and other non-governmental, capitalist entities which continually make it their business to glom onto as much government money as possible which in the end screws us all.

    B-tone

  • STM

    Geez, you blokes are a struggle sometimes.

    There is no problem having universal free (or at least near-free) health care.

    Get over it, you guys.

    I can’t believe some people here are saying it’s “unconstitutional”. Honestly, such a load of bollocks and a millstone around your own necks for those who even suggest such things.

    It’s probably unconstitutional to pay medical insurance too, if you are going to look at it that way, but most people do.

    You are going to get it at some point, no matter what, and if it’s done properly, when you do, you’ll love it – just like the rest of us have. Yes, there will be bad and inexcusable fu.k-ups, ’cause hospitals are run by humans, not robots – but don’t tell me that isn’t already the case under the current US system ’cause I won’t believe you if you do.

    The trick, simply, is agitating to get it done properly.

  • STM

    Nalle: “It WOULD be nice to get a caller, wouldn’t it”

    I’d ring you from Oz, Dave, but would any bastard understand a word I’d be saying???

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    I’m sure we could puzzle it out, Stan. Plenty of us have funny ways of talking too, and Baritone has an extraordinarily loud phone.

    BTW, I realize that the Aussie healthcare system is the most wonderful thing since sliced bread and that you’re all as happy as clams down there, but there’s no guarantee and in fact it’s fairly unlikely that we’d get a system as good.

    Your system is the exception in the world of socialized medicine. People in Canada, Britain and Germany aren’t nearly as happy with their systems, and taht might be what we ended up with.

    Dave

  • STM

    Mate, I’ve never been a fan of sliced bread, and sadly, I can’t make any claim to our system being perfect. In fact, there are occasional appalling stuff ups.

    But I guess if most of us love it, that’s telling. I’d hate, however, to see it go completely socialised. While there’s still a bit of an element of choice, it works for me.

    That’s why I reckon Americans would like it.

    And one of these days, I might just ring that radio show of yours. Imagine that, eh?: first caller: some lunatic from Down Under.

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Dave,

    If my cell phone is a problem, I can go back to using my land line – that big clunky thing sitting on my desk. I used the cell last week because I was on the road when the show started, which may well happen again owing to my erratic work schedule. But I’ll go back to using my ‘Radio Shack Special’ desk phone next time around unless I’m out in the field.

    B-tone

  • Clavos

    B-tone,

    NO, NO, NO, I am NOT advocating funding cuts for the VA; I was simply trying to point out that, because of the inherent inefficiency in our federal government, that government-manged UHC will almost certainly cost more overall than almost any other type of plan.

    But, it was a bad analogy on my part anyway; to my knowledge, there is no proposal for UHC out there that advocates that the government actually provide the health care itself (as the VA does), but rather just various schemes for government (read taxpayer, i.e. us) PAID health care, a la Medicare.

    As you know, I also have extensive experience with Medicare; which fiscally is an even worse horror story; I’ve posted the story of my wife’s wheelchair purchase several times, so won’t again.

    The Aussie plan sounds great, especially viewed through Stan’s rose-colored glasses :>), but I’m with Dave on this point; I doubt that a plan devised here will work as well as the one in Oz, and my basis for saying so is what I’ve already seen what’s going on with both Medicare and the VA.

    That said, I recognize that the present system is becoming increasingly unworkable, and that too many are uninsured, so I’m not opposed to putting our best minds to work solving this in a fair, equitable, and fiscally sound manner.

    I DO think, however, that to keep it fiscally sound, we need to keep the government’s role to collecting and paying; no more.

    To keep everyone honest, the plan needs to have adequate checks and balances, civilian (i.e. non-governmental) oversight, and frequent, independent auditing.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Nalle: “It WOULD be nice to get a caller, wouldn’t it”

    Errr… I’m listening to the podcast of the show right now, and about fifteen minutes in, a phone rings very loudly. Dave calls out, “Kill that phone!”

    That could have been Mike Huckleberry himself calling in to the show. Now you’ll never know.

    ;-)

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Doc,

    Actually, I do know. I was using my cell phone for the show, sitting in our dining/music/junk room when our land line phone began ringing until the answering machine picked up. Mystery solved.

    B-tone

  • Clavos

    Dave,

    I’m listening to the podcast of the show right now (about ten minutes into it).

    I think I know what was causing the interference you were experiencing (and maybe you figure it out later in the show); it’s a cellphone too close to one of the computers. I have the same noise on my laptop when my cell phone is too close to it.

    I’ve learned to keep it at least a couple of feet away and use the Bluetooth headset if I want to use both simultaneously.

    Interesting to hear everyone’s voice (I’ve mentally pronounced your name as Nalley up until now).

    Good discussion, folks!

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Clav,

    How does the show come across to you? I have no real sense of it. When I’m doing it, it just seems like a small bunch of folks sitting around kibbitzing about politics. I’ve listened to some of the programs, but I don’t know how others respond to it. Of course, I haven’t been entirely sure there were any “others.”

    Back to health care. I am not so dubious about government involvement with health care. One of the problems I see with Medicare and Medicaid is that it’s basically a half hearted, or perhaps half assed effort – trying to offer full care to the elderly and debilitated, while still pandering to the private sector medical establishment. I think a well considered, properly implemented national health care system – that is with the government jumping in with both feet – could work. It would take more time than perhaps you and I may have left (I’m just short of being a certifiable “Old Fart,” but I’ve submitted all the paperwork.) to truly get it right, but I think it’s doable.

    B-tone

  • Clavos

    B-tone,

    First, the show.

    That’s the wrong word, really, but for convenience, I’ll call it that.

    Yes, it does sound a bit like “like a small bunch of folks sitting around kibbitzing about politics” at this point, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing as long as it remains interesting, which this particular show is (perhaps again because of its newness, at least in part), however, that probably won’t be sustainable. The key, I think, is the call-ins, which will not only bring in new voices, but will also obviously widen the scope of the discussion.

    All in all, I think it’s a good start (better than I expected), and I’m looking forward to being able to listen live one of these days, when I WILL call in if appropriate. Unfortunately, the present time frame of 5PM ET is exactly when I’m at the hospital with my wife.

    One suggestion I DO have, (Dave?) is that everyone use each other’s (and their own) names a little more, to help the audience keep track of who is whom.

    I certainly would encourage anyone interested enough to participate here to at least listen; it’s definitely worthwhile.

    “One of the problems I see with Medicare and Medicaid is that it’s basically a half hearted, or perhaps half assed effort – trying to offer full care to the elderly and debilitated, while still pandering to the private sector medical establishment. I think a well considered, properly implemented national health care system – that is with the government jumping in with both feet – could work.”

    I agree with your point about Medicare/aid. Where you and I probably differ most on this point, is that I believe that’s pretty much par for the course for most government-run programs.

    I can’t respond to your second point because I’m not sure what you mean by “both feet;” whether you mean a la VA, where the government not only pays, but actually provides the docs and facilities, or whether you mean something lesser.

    In any case, I believe that while there certainly are enormous problems with distribution, our health care system is one of the most sophisticated and technologically advanced systems in the world, our physicians are among the world’s best, and most (not all) of the cutting-edge advances of the past century occurred here in the USA–all while we were basically a private enterprise health system. I think the competition inherent in such a system, along with the incentive to make a buck, are important to ensure that excellence continues.

    Our core problem these days is one of distribution; it’s unequal and even when available, is inefficiently (and sometimes hazardously) distributed. It’s not that we don’t have the infrastructure, it’s that not everyone has affordable access to the best we have to offer.

    I would prefer to see the government’s role (as I said above) limited to collector of premiums and payer of suppliers.

    I do however, see a need for oversight. Perhaps an independent body (something like the Supreme Court) could be organized; such body to be comprised of patient advocates, the medical professions, and reps from the medical industry and would have to have real power of enforcement.

    The FIRST thing that has to happen, however, is a COMPREHENSIVE and VIABLE plan has to be drawn up, discussed to death, and then enacted as law.

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    I suppose the show will work it’s kinks out as we go along. I agree about identifying ourselves, not necessarily every time we speak, that could be cumbersome and probably get old very quickly. But for each of us to occasionally say, Terry, or Dave or Clara here, or some such would make things a bit clearer for listeners. We’ve started to kick around some ideas – perhaps doing the show nude, or at least all of us wearing the same colored tee shirts or, OR, maybe red or blue Tees depending upon our political proclivities. That’d be bitchin!

    Well, I think by “both feet” I DO mean the government being involved in all aspects of the system, just as it is with the VA. I know it could well be a bureaucratic nightmare. But,to begin, say a committee or a group of committees could be set up to study all of the world’s major health systems and then over time fashioning a system for the US that would pluck the best from other systems, trying to avoid the less desirable elements and pitfalls,then coupling it with that which would be unique to our needs. I know we differ fundamentally on this question, but I feel that the only way it can work for the greatest number of people is to remove health care from the private sphere.

    B-tone

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I agree by and large with what Clavos says about the show.

    It would be good to try and get some actual politicians to make guest appearances, as that would certainly draw listeners. No fawning, now, though, just because they’ve been kind enough to agree!

    It’s interesting how the ‘radio’ aspect adds a dimenson of civility to proceedings. I guess it’s harder to be rude to someone when the sound of their voice reminds you of their humanity. I mean, no-one even got upset at Bambenek!

    You do need to identify each other a bit more. I mean Dave’s, Carla’s and Baritone’s voices are easy enough to distinguish, but John and Mark sound quite similar.

    And like Clav, the 5-6ET (2-3PT) slot isn’t workable for me as far as call-ins go, because I’m at work. Otherwise I’d love to!

    But a good start, though.

  • http://vikk.typepad.com/blog_trek/ Heather Ames

    Carla, you started out discussing your opinion of each Democratic candidate’s plans to provide universal healthcare to all citizens and then digressed into a report of your mother’s experiences with dentists. You are comparing apples with oranges, and at that, only the experiences of a Southern lady in what seems to be a rural or underserved area. You should have stuck with one or the other. Dental care is affordable and usually available to anyone who can come up with around $50 a month for a Delta Dental premium. Health insurance is far more costly and the system far more complex and flawed. I worked at a county hospital for 6 years. We treated everyone, including long hospital stays for underinsured uninsured and illegals. Every Friday the INS would come in the front door and half the beds in the acute care hospital would empty out with patients fleeing out the back doors, sometimes in hospital gowns.

    As far as continuing on with the present system, trying to justify it by saying that there are problems in Massachusetts with their still-fledgling universal coverage is like complaining that a bandaid isn’t doing the job on a large surgical wound. Everyone in this country should be covered by some plan. Uninsured people are overloading emergency rooms (yes, I have worked in one of those, too) and crippling the hospital systems. People do not go to the doctor when they are just ill, they wait until they are majorly ill. They try home remedies and no remedies except waiting out the ailment in the hope that it will go away. When they become so ill that they can’t function, then they go to the ER and by that time they need extensive hospital stays, expensive treatments, etc., etc., etc. Some of them wait so long that they find themselves chronically ill or even dying. Is that the way to go? Is that the system we need?

    So many other countries in this world are providing some form of universal care, and they are not bankrupting themselves or failing their citizens.

    End of subject. End of discussion. Except that any healthcare worker from dentist to hospital to clinic that doesn’t stip off a pair of rubber gloves and wash hands between patients is either remarkably stupid or criminally insane. Especially dentists, who come into contact with saliva and blood. I think your mother is exaggerating.

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    A dental solution that I imagine is available in every state that has a dental school, which I would assume includes most if not all. Most all dental schools – actual graduate level school for dentists, provide pretty much the whole gamut of dental care either free or for fees much less than you’d find with private practices. I have been getting all of my dental care from the Indiana University Dental School for the past 4 or 5 years. They charge, but it amounts to only about one third what I’d have to pay elsewhere. I’ve had a number of different procedures including root canals (which, frankly aren’t bad once the numbing takes hold,) caps, a bridge, fillings, and, of course, cleanings, etc.

    While you are being treated by a student, they are required to have a teacher – a licensed dentist – check their work at every critical juncture. Consequently, it’s more time consuming than a normal procedure, but just as with the VA, I have no particular complaints, and I saved a good deal of money.

    The VA does offer dental care, but only if a patient recorded a dental related injury while on active duty, or if a dental condition exists that is debilitating or life threatening – at least as I understand it.

    B-tone

  • bliffle

    I was going to listen to the BCRadio but when I tried an alert came up saying I had to download a plugin. Without identifying the plugin or who was responsible for it.

    I don’t DL mystery plugins anymore. Not after my last XP system totally plugged up with a single virus that then opened all the doors to other mal-ware.

    Then the Famous Anti-viruses proceeded to slow the system down to a crawl.

    I was counseled to re-install the XP and start from scratch, so I installed a runt XP in a 10gb partition and installed a fresh Ubuntu in the other 70gb with a dual-boot at startup. And I’ve been flying high and fast ever since, with Gnome, Firefox, Thunderbird, Deluge, Gimp, Open Office and other fine programs.

    I swore to never connect that XP system to the internet again, and to not DL Mystery Plugins again, even on linux, because linux has all the standard (and many non-standard) software a person needs.

    If I knew what that plugin WAS I could probably find a linux equivalent.

    Or, why don’t you use a standard internet format?

  • alessandro

    #55: “So many other countries in this world are providing some form of universal care, and they are not bankrupting themselves or failing their citizens.”

    That’s not exactly accurate. While there is no doubt universal care is a noble experiment (so much so that people are willing to put up with major problems), it’s becoming increasingly expensive and in some cases they are failing their citizens. Nothing is free. I can only speak of Canada but here’s another issue oft not spoken about: In Canada, you can get anything provided you a) have a family doctor and b) the service is available and that you wait a while.

    In (a) 10 million Canadians (one third of the country do not have a GP. A GP is kind of a point guard in that he gives you the little note you need to go and see a specialist. So you have to calculate the time it takes to do all this. Then, you have to wait and see a specialist and this leads to (b) the Medical system does not provide everything.

    First of all, in Canada we generally have the lowest number of MRI’s, PT and CT Scans in the OECD on a per capita basis. We apparently have “no money” to buy them despite being among the biggest spenders on health (behind the U.S.) on a per capita basis. Anyway, MAJOR surgeries such as hip replacement and cardiovascular conditions are not available here. So Canadians are forced to go to the States or abroad to get cured. Now, depending on the problem, the government reimburses the patient but why is Canada – A G7 COUNTRY THEY TELL ME – not offering all services to its citizens? Can it be related to the public system?

    More poignantly, and this is obvious to those who actually experience the system, I don’t see a whole lot of dignity in leaving sick people in the halls to be exposed to the public because of the lack of beds and manpower.

    We’re probably not directing our resources probably and setting our priorities right. Always remember: patients are an expenditure in Canada. I can’t speak for other countries but this is the issue in Canada.

    Where are all the taxes going? The government (because in Canada heaven forbid the individual takes charge lest we all become void of any compassion) threw $41 billion at the health system. It’s improved the wait times somewhat but we are far away from finding a solution.

    It’s odd that in Canada we’re talking about “privatizing” parts of the system while Americans (who are largely covered despite the obvious wrinkles and imperfections) want to oddly go “universal” because they are being shamed into believing this is “progress.”

    There is no doubt health should not be political and that Americans do need to find a way to cover all its citizens but I would not look to Canada for pointers.

    Oh one other thing. Canada is highly parochial in that we still have inter-provincial barriers. I can’t get my hands on a Pilsner beer from Western Canada because I’m from Quebec. We play games with each other and its a laughable problem that should be very easy to do away with. Beer is nothing but guess what? Our health care cards are not portable. I have no idea what would happen to me if I get sick in Ontario. Maybe Quebec subsidizes me?

    There is no perfect is system. I read earlier somewhere someone talking about a compassionate government. I don’t wholly believe that. A bureaucracy is made up of flawed individuals and we don’t exactly higher the “brightest” to represent us. To say nothing of immobile inefficiencies.

    Because the world uses this system does it make America “brainwashed” and less compassionate?

  • alessandro

    Apologies to some of the poor grammar above.

  • http://www.parttimepundit.com John Bambenek

    I think the interference during the radio show might have been me. Here is a pic of my desk in my office…

    Yeah… that could just be me with the interference.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Well that seems just a bit excessive, JB.

    Dave

  • Silver Surfer

    Why don’t we all call “the show” one night and have a great big fucking tent party at the same time, you know like the radio equivalent of a gibber-a-thon piss-up … can everyone be on line at once, arguing like buggery? What fun that would be :)

    Also, I would promise to be good, not to swear, and I’d try to speak slowly so the all those ESLs (*Americans) can understand what I’m saying. Honest …

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    SS,

    Actually, I think you CAN swear. There’s no FCC involved. We’ve all been pretty good so far, no obscenities that I can recall. But I guess we can let er rip if we choose to do so. But what would Walter (Cronkite) say?

    B-tone

  • Silver Surfer

    Would be fun to have poms, yanks and aussies on the show all at the time, because I really believe that what happens in one place has a direct correlation with what happens in another.

    As much as we all like to think we’re all very diiferent, in reality, we ain’t.

    The only problem is the one cleverly but rather obviously identified by Sir Winston Churchill, no doubt after a conversation that left FDR scratching his head: “We are one people separated by the barrier of a common language”.

  • http:.//ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Alessandro,

    Canada and Britain are only two examples of how socialized medicine and universal health care (don’t) work. Australia and Israel are also examples. I suspect that Australia, which appears to have a system similar to ours, is under less existential strain (i.e. no aboriginals sending Qassams buzzing into Perth or sheep stations in the interior), so it operates somewhat better than ours does. And frankly our system is an excellent one, in spite of the existential threats we face daily.

    Americans would do well to look carefully at the Australian and Israeli systems for examples of universal health care and coverage that do work rather nicely. And from what say so unhappily, Alessandro, your provincial governments would do well to do the same up in Canada….

  • Clavos

    “Americans would do well to look carefully at the Australian and Israeli systems for examples of universal health care and coverage that do work rather nicely.”

    Ruvy, why should we bother if, as you so colorfully put it Stan on this thread, we:

    “Your “protector” and “benefactor”, the Yanks, are flushing themselves down a collective toilet while they scream volubly that they are not.

    Glub, glub glub….”

    You’re particularly pessimistic and gloomy today, Ruvy, even for you.

    What’s up with that?

  • http:.//ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    I just feel it is necessary to remind Stan that nobody is exempt from the tides of history, and one from an uncrowded and prosperous country ignores his less prosperous but powerful and populous neighbors at his peril.

    As for my views of America, well the realities I read coming over e-mails from your home speak for themselves, and they generally do not betide well for you. They betide even less well for Jews living there, but like the lot of you, if told they are in trouble, they plug their ears or dispense Prozac or do both.

    We in Israel are seeing the results of the fall of your dollar, even if you desire to shut your eyes against it, for example. For what it is worth, cans of tuna imported from American manufacturers have gone up from NIS 4.00 to NIS 6.50, most other items have gone up at least 10 to 15% in cost in a short time, and American pensioners have seen a rather large drop in the value of their pensions.

    But until you have actually been flushed down history’s toilet, the US Department of Labor will still be regulating the internet for the most part, and we’ll still be able to talk, and if there is a bit of good advice I can lend, why not?

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Ruvy,

    I would suggest that should the U.S. as you say be “flushed down the toilet,” Israel will wind up with us in the same sewer. You think we’re all fools, but the fact is that Israel would not exist today were it not for considerable military and financial aide coming from the states over that last several years. Had we responded practically, and in our best interests, we would have thrown all our support to the oil states. You are looking the gift horse squarely in the mouth.

    B-tone

  • alessandro

    Thanks Ruvy for the response.

  • Clavos

    Ruvy,

    Your increase in the price of American goods is not due to the falling value of the dollar, but rather the faster falling value of the shekel. The falling dollar actually means that the price increases on American goods in Israel (because of the weakening of the shekel) are less than they might have been otherwise.

    It sounds to me like the shopkeepers are gouging; preying on the economically naive.

    That American pensioners on fixed dollar incomes does make sense, however, although even their pain is lessened by the fact that the shekel is also devaluing, and faster.

    Overall, the falling dollar (so far) has benefited the US, except in the case of foreign oil.

    We don’t need to buy other foreign goods if we don’t have to, and we should be (but aren’t) trying to free ourselves from the foreign oil.

  • Mooja

    “We in Israel are seeing the results of the fall of your dollar, even if you desire to shut your eyes against it, for example. For what it is worth, cans of tuna imported from American manufacturers have gone up from NIS 4.00 to NIS 6.50, most other items have gone up at least 10 to 15% in cost in a short time, and American pensioners have seen a rather large drop in the value of their pensions.”

    Ruvy you do understand that a falling US dollar would actually make the cost of US goods GO DOWN in another currency, don’t you?

  • Jacob

    “Overall, the falling dollar (so far) has benefited the US, except in the case of foreign oil.” — Clavos

    What a crock.

    What about the millions of retired on fixed incomes?

    How far can the dollar fall and remain a benefit to the US?

    Got an answer?

  • Clavos

    The “millions of retired on fixed incomes” are only affected if they live outside the US.

    Inside the country, the falling dollar only has an effect on foreign-made goods, and as such it enables American-made products once again to be competitive.

    People go back to buying Fords again, instead of Toyotas. The weaker dollar does not affect the basics such as food (unless of course, you eat caviar and pate de foie gras) and shelter, which are produced domestically.

    In addition, American-made goods are much more competitive abroad. As Stan mentioned on another thread recently, American cars are enjoying a resurgence in Australia these days, thanks to the relative strength of the A$ against the USD.

    “How far can the dollar fall and remain a benefit to the US?”

    The dollar is weakening because it was overvalued.

    The real values of the world’s currencies are set by supply and demand in currency markets; when the dollar reaches its true value, it will cease to fall.

    To that point, it’s beneficial to the country’s overall economy for it to be priced realistically.

  • http:.//ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Let’s take all these comments in some reasonable order, and see if we cannot bring this round to the topic at hand, universal health care.

    1. Baritone, the “considerable American financial aid, etc.” has come at the cost of giving up our own airplanes, rifles, missile defense systems, uniforms and boots. In addition, the US has soured quite a number of Israeli defense projects, including the launch of several spy satellites. That is not aid, that is forced dependence. In addition, if that were not enough, it has come at the cost of the Israeli government betraying its own people and the security of its own people for the sake of keeping YOUR sick government quiet. Israelis literally die to make you happy. Looking a gift horse in the mouth? No, baritone, we need to shoot the “gift horse” before it kills us.

    2. For quite some time, the shekel has been going up against the dollar. The dollar has fallen as low as NIS 3.83/$1.00. It went back up to NIS 3.97/$1.00 but as of my last look at Globes, it was at NIS 3.90/$1.00. The only reason I bore you with these facts is that the “New Israeli Shekel” is a joke of a currency, with the coins and bills made in the UK. So the shekel, a joke of a currency to keep the locals quiet, is gaining value against the almighty dollar. So all this nonsense about how the falling dollar benefits us is just that – nonsense. Buying Starkist Tuna, for example, costs more shekels than it used to for the importer, and therefore is costing us more in shekels, too.

    If your economy tanks, the cash economy here will also tank. This is true. This is why some of us have been working on alternatives to relying on your greenbacks and euros before they sour on us altogether.

    3. Finally, let’s talk about health care. In Israel, each person has to pay the National Insurance Agency roughly 9% of his income to get a basket of services from private health insurance providers. The 9% premiums are a flow through directly to the health insurers. This is universal care. In addition to all this, the health insurers sell additional plans which are risk based and are not mandatory to hold – but the wise person does hold them. Finally on top of all this are the truly private providers who are not affiliated with the national health insurers. A regular doctor visit with such a physician can cost NIS 550 ($141). That is over half a week’s pay for a lot of people. But people expect a lot for that NIS 550.

    Drugs are a lot cheaper than in the States, and so are most procedures and consultations with specialists. Frankly, the Cadillac health plan I had through my wife’s government job in the States, a Blue Cross Blue Shield Plan that cost over $250 in premiums a month in 2000, is trash compared to what we have here for NIS 400 every two months.

  • Clavos

    “Buying Starkist Tuna, for example, costs more shekels than it used to for the importer, and therefore is costing us more in shekels, too.”

    If, as you say, Ruvy, the shekel is going UP (i.e., it takes fewer shekels to buy a dollar than before), then the importer pays less for the Starkist, not more.

    If the shekel is going down against the dollar (i.e. it takes more shekels to buy a dollar), then the price of Starkist in Israel WILL go up; but because the dollar is going down against everything but the shekel, the difference is ameliorated by the degree the dollar falls, so the increase in the Israeli price of Starkist is smaller than it would have been were the dollar not falling.

  • http:.//ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Apparently, Clavos, there is also the effect where the cheaper dollar causes the product to cost more in dollars. Which is truly an irony.

    Put simply, inflation has returned here.

  • Cannonshop

    The problem may be a matter of corruption. Medicare and Medicaid are sterling examples of how U.S. government programmes actually (don’t) function. See, outside of waging wars and building highways (okay, not building them- our roadways are decaying and ill-maintained nationwide), “Half Assed” is about as good as you get from the Federal level-this shows up in everything from space exploration to Prisons, Education to Law Enforcement to Border Enforcement and Immigration- Half-Assed, and over-cost, every time, no exceptions. Heard what happened at Bethesda? the bad conditions, neglect, incompetence at our Premier Military Medical Facility?

    Guess what-that’s UHC in AMERICA, land of Lobby, Kickback, and entrenched beaurocracy.

  • bliffle

    I don’t know about Medicaid, but Medicare has been excellent for me, so far, Less hassle, lower co-pays (as in mostly zero). My doctor prefers it, and I notice that the doctors who refuse my Medicare business also refuse business from ANY insured customer.

    The overhead for Medicare is about 3%, much lower than private insurers 40%. It is the high cost of private healthcare that has driven up overall USA per capita costs.

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Ruvy,

    I love how everything is our fault. If something is fucked up, blame it on the Americans. Look to your own house. If we are more of a hindrance than an aide to Israel, then cut the damn cord. Declare yourselves free of the evil American shackles. I’m sure the U.S. government has thwarted much of Israel’s overzealousness and penchant for taking revenge. It is necessary that we perform a fucking balancing act in your part of the world to keep you all from blowing each other into smithereens. You can say that it’s all about oil as far as we’re concerned, and you’d probably be right. We’re fucked without oil and Israel is fucked without us.

    B-tone

  • Clavos

    “The overhead for Medicare is about 3%”

    That’s what Medicare claims, but among other things, it doesn’t take into account the tens of millions of dollars in fraud perpetrated on it annually.

    Here in South Florida alone last year (2006), authorities estimated that Medicare fraud reached $20 million, based on the perps they caught and how much they had ripped off.

    Medicare’s durable equipment acquisitions make the Air Force’s $600 hammers look like bargains.

  • bliffle

    Fraud is a problem in all medical insurance and provider systems. I was in the Fraud Detection business for a few years and we used to say that looking for fraud in the med system is like looking for straw in a haystack. Our salesman used to find fraud while demonstrating the product to execs during a sales pitch. Providers (doctors and hospitals,etc.) cheat and recipients (patients) cheat, and in one state the state official in charge of Fraud Detection cheated and was uncovered by our system. You just have to look.

    It’s not just Medical Industry, either. The banking system is shot thru with fraud: bankers go to jail every day. Banking is the stupidest business in the world because the stupidest people are attracted to it so they eventually commit embezzlement, and they do it badly. The banking industry maintains huge slush funds to bailout member banks when they go bust. In fact, most banks don’t even know whether they are solvent or not.

    Lamentably, the fraud disease has spread throughout the business community, because so many top officers are hired from outside the company. This is always done with brave statements like “we need new blood”, “a new broom sweeps clean” or “a good manager can manage any business” (one is amazed that they would recite these Old Wives bromides without embarrassment). Whenever you hear the BoD saying those things run for the exit. Outside execs commit a number of sins: their lack of experience means they can’t actually run the company; they bring the bad management diseases they acquired in their previous position; they front-load their own compensation so they drain the company by churning; eventually they corrupt their co-workers (even accountants and auditors), etc.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    And that’s just Medicare’s share of the overhead – it’s basically just the cost of processing paperwork. All the other inflated costs of the medical system are still there.

    Dave

  • Silver Surfer

    Yeah Ruve, what’s going on with you today old boy?? You are giving me a bit of stick. Geez, you are bit more cranky than usual … :)

    Mate, the virginal bits of this country – you know, the vast interior full of man-eating crocs, highly venoumous snakes, and dirty great red and grey ‘roos that’ll rip you to shreds quicker than look at you, well that colussus to our north is welcome to it.

    I suspect the aborigines, who are the only ones who know how to survive out there and have taught us how to do it (well, they’ve taught us everything WE know, but not everything THEY know) might have something to say about it.

    I reckon any foreign invader to this country would last about, what, oh, say 15 minutes out there.

    First of all, you need to know where to get water. Distilling it from your own piss is one way. But all that’s a struggle if you don’t know, and that’s just to get a drink – so you don’t die of thirst!

    Somehow, I don’t think we’ve got that much to worry about.

    I know hanukah’s over, but it’s 7pm Christmas Eve here (I’m also from the future) so I’ll pass on my season’s greetings to you and the rest of all you guys – as I’m about to get the BBQ going and get into some prawns (shrimp) and turkey.

    Cheers!

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Stan, what with the time travel, and since I suspect you’ll get into a spot of bother with the missus if you’re caught logging onto Blogcritics on Christmas Day, I’ll take this opportunity to wish you and yours the compliments of the season in case I don’t run into you again this side of Boxing Day.

    :-)

    P.S. I’ve discovered the secret of how to get John Howard to produce a second facial expression. You have to turn his photo upside down. Consider that little tip your Crimbo prezzie from me!

  • http:.//ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Yeah Ruve, what’s going on with you today old boy?? You are giving me a bit of stick. Geez, you are bit more cranky than usual … :)

    First of all Stan, I’m not giving you stick at all. I’m just a fellow who reads his history and remembers it.

    But, given that you are not likely to read this till Boxing Day, let me again wish you and yours a Happy Christmas.

    As for the points you raise above, I’ll deal with them in the article where they belong, rather than here.

    As for the Christmas wishes, they also go to the rest of the readers here.

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Dave, Clav, John, Mark, Clara, Doc, SS and even Ruvy,

    Have, (or in the case of Ruvy – hope you had) a happy and safe holiday and holiday season.

    B-tone (aka TLS)

  • Clavos

    Thanks, Baritone. The same to you and yours; may your holidays be happy and may your New Year be all you want it to be.

    And, for Dave, Stan The Man, Doc, troll, Franco, Alessandro, RJ, Jet, Christopher and all the editorial staff, and to all BCers, named and unnamed:

    May all of you have a wonderful holiday, and for all, may 2008 be your best New Year yet.

  • troll

    back at ya nails – best to you and yours

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Everyone else – even Moon,

    Didn’t mean to leave anyone out.

    Happy Holidays!!!!!

    Baritone

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Merry Christmas everybody!

    Or as some schools in Britain apparently insist on calling it due to their multi-ethnic student bodies – Winterval.

    Whatever floats your boat…

    <: -D> *

    * (Rather tragic attempt at a bearded Santa smiley.)

  • Clavos

    WINTERVAL???”

    And we think we’re too PC here in the USA?

    Hoo boy!

  • http:.//ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Having bragged about the health care system here in Israel as a model for you all to follow, I suppose I should put this here as a caution to what politics can do in hurting any system that requires proficiency and not bullshit. This came into my inbox from a friend in Israel this evening.

    This is the time of year when the Knesset has to pass a budget, and not passing one can automatically bring down the government.

    This article in the Jerusalem Post is “spin doctored” as more money for the health basket [of benefits, but look carefully at the price.

    The Knesset Finance Committee, eager to push through the 2008 budget and get more Treasury money for the basket of health services, approved a compromise on Monday in which the health funds would no longer be permitted to offer health-prolonging drugs not included in the basket as part of the funds’ supplementary health insurance policies held by some 80 percent of the population.

    In plain English, until recently almost all of the population had no chance of obtaining drugs not covered by the basic “health basket” unless they bought supplemental insurance.

    You often could see postings on lists asking for donations for people who needed drugs they could not afford, but would not live without them.

    Maccabi and Clallit (two of the four Kupat Holim or health providers) added supplemental policies for a few NIS a month that would buy these drugs for them. Since 20% of the population are not a members of these plans or can not afford the extra payments, it was deemed unfair.

    So instead of 20% of the people dying because they can not get medicine they need, it’s close to 100%.

    The extra money given as a bribe to the Kupat Holim, is a small compromise to those that need those drugs and can’t get them.

  • bliffle

    It’s madness that people should die because public or private bureucrats have decided to withhold healthcare for financial reasons.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    It’s not madness, Bliffle, it’s accounting and logic. It’s also human society going back to the earliest times. Some die so that others may live.

    The problem is that with our overly pampered and soft-hearted society we see the negatives without ever considering the positives.

    Dave

  • STM

    Come on Dave, it’s 2000 and bloody 7, not 1681. Look deep into your heart (right down there lurking in the recesses there must be a shred of compassion, and I know there is even if stray dogs hate you) – and tell me you still think that’s a fair dinkum position. For my part, I think it’s bollocks …. but that’s only me.

    Apart from all that, I hope you and yours and everyone else on here had a good Chrissie … it’s 3pm Boxing Day here already now (beauty, the Sydney-Hobart yacht race has started and the cricket’s on – Oz v India), so am recovering.

    If I see one more prawn, slice of turkey or piece of ham I’ll throw up though.

    Cheers, all.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Stan, for compassion I tend to look towards individuals, not institutions. And I can be plenty compassionate without unrealistically expecting it from government or big businesses.

    Dave

  • STM

    Yes mate, if you read my post you’ll see that I do understand you are not without compassion. I know it from some of your writings.

    But in this case, I see health care as something apart from a business.

    It’s worth noting here that the Hippocratic Oath also defines it that way.

    It is NOT a business. It IS a responsibility, and in this day and age, when governments can afford to spend billions on weapons, they can also afford to spend a lopt bloody less on the health of their citizens.

    That is their RESPONSIBILITY.

    Sorry for the shouting, but in a fervent mood.

    I still want to get on that show BTW. You should liven it up a bit by getting lunatics (Dr Dread, are you listening) from elsewhere to join in.

    Blogcritics is, after all, an international site.

    What fun we’d all have in that big tent.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Hell, we had Marlowe on, that’s a start. But yeah, I want to get some fun guests on. If you can figure a practical way to call in from Australia we could have international day. I think our 5 EST airtime is about 1pm the next day in Australia, right?

    As for responsibility, that’s the fundamental question. Where do we draw the line between what is the responsibility of the government and what is the responsibility of the individual? Here in America most of us are still drawing it in a place where healthcare is an individual responsibility rather than a government responsibility.

    While I think many of us WOULD like to see those without healthcare protected, we may be even more concerned about how the sphere of government responsibility is expanding while the sphere of individual responsibility is shrinking.

    Responsibility IS freedom, and the more responsibility we give up to government the more freedom we give up as well. And while healthcare is only one issue, a lot of folks see it as part of an incremental process at the end of which we’ve lost so much to the state that we’re clients rather than free members of society.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    “If you can figure a practical way to call in from Australia we could have international day. I think our 5 EST airtime is about 1pm the next day in Australia, right?”

    It’s 16 hours ahead of EST.

    Use Skype. It’s free worldwide, computer to computer, and very inexpensive computer to landline worldwide. A few weeks ago, I talked to a client in Auckland (from this ‘puter in Miami to his office phone) for about 25 minutes for only 4 Euro.

  • STM

    Lol. What’s going on with this world Clav … you call from Miami (where presumably the $US is still the main currency, to Auckland, where I KNOW the $NZ is still the official currency) … and the bastard’s charge you … 4 Euros.

    On a serious note, I could call from the office to the US for free, so it’s not too much of a drama.

    If it were down to me though, Skype would be the choice.

    I have listened to the show, BTW. At one stage, I felt like someone should have thrown a hand grenade under the table to liven it up a bit, but that’s being cruel – I know how hard it is to start these things off.

    PS, Dave sounds exactly like I thought he would! Go figure …

    I still reckon an official International Lunatics Day could work …

  • http:.//ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    But in this case, I see health care as something apart from a business.

    It’s worth noting here that the Hippocratic Oath also defines it that way.

    It is NOT a business. It IS a responsibility, and in this day and age, when governments can afford to spend billions on weapons, they can also afford to spend a lot bloody less on the health of their citizens.

    That is their RESPONSIBILITY.

    Hear! Hear! Give that good man a soapbox!

    Stan has nailed right on the head. Health is an issue of security. A bunch of sick, dumb kids make lousy soldiers, and even lousier generals. When your army starts losing land to the enemy because of stupidity (think of the Romans drinking wine in leaden barrels – or of how the Israeli [ultimately American] gov’t forced the IDF to fuck it up and fumble the ball in Lebanon), you start having really bad news.

    In the mean time, Stan, go ahead – have just one more prawn….

  • STM

    Aaaargh. One more prawn. No … please … anything but that.

    That could be used as a new form of torture.

    It was funny standing in the queue at the seafood joint in the mall on Christmas Eve. A very classy looking woman standing next to me, who had obviously had enough, looked over at me, rolled her eyeballs and said in a very upper-class accent: “Oh, fuck this, what a shit fight”.

    Her mother was behind her, and my son asked her how many kilos of prawns you should get for 14 people (because we forget every year how much a kilo of prawns feeds ’cause we’re blokes), and she replied: “Oh, well that depends on whether you like prawns”.

    I’m thinking: “For fuck’s sake lady, we’ve been in this monstrosity of a place for four hours – just give us a straight answer”.

    But it being Christmas, I smiled, and asked “Would 2 kilos be enough, then?”.

    It was … and then some. And at $71 for 2kg (I always go for the Aussie ones instead of the imported) , it’d want to be too. The cat and the dog are stoked, though.

    It’s remarkable how much prawns (shrimp??) go down in price one day after Chrissie. Just like petrol.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Dave: for compassion I tend to look towards individuals, not institutions.

    Well, the Salvation Army, Goodwill and Catholic Charities are pretty much fucked down your way then, aren’t they?

  • http:.//ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    It’s remarkable how much prawns (shrimp??) go down in price one day after Chrissie. Just like petrol.

    That’ll teach you to eat kosher food instead, Stan. Its price never goes down one day after “Chrissy”, so you don’t feel cheated.

    Did I read you right? $A71 for 4½ lousy pounds of shrimp?

  • Silver Surfer

    Yep, that’s right Ruve … $71 for 2kg. Madness, but if you don’t, it just doesn’t feel like Chrissy. Really, down this neck of the woods, it’s like not having turkey at Thanksgiving. The problem is, I still have about 1kg left in the fridge, and if we don’t eat the bastards soon, they’ll be on the nostril quicksmart.

    But like I say, there’s an upside: The dog’s getting into the leftover turkey, and the cat’s having a field day with some of the $71-a-kilo prawns. The dog’ll eat anything anyway (a pedigree, champion border terrier – $600 for a dog my wife insisted we get that looks like a bloody hairy mongrel but very good for keeping vermin away) and likewise the cat, who can sniff out a prawn at 100 metres.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Dave: for compassion I tend to look towards individuals, not institutions.

    Well, the Salvation Army, Goodwill and Catholic Charities are pretty much fucked down your way then, aren’t they?

    Well, I guess I oversimplified. I see private charity as the actions of individuals, but yes, technically they’re institutions. However, they are funded by the choice of individuals to give to them, not by the government taking money from people involuntarily and redistributing it.

    So change my use of ‘institutions’ to ‘government’ and I guess it works better.

    And from what I can tell those charities are doing damned well down in Texas.

    Dave

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    the cat’s having a field day with some of the $71-a-kilo prawns

    Jeez, Stan, go easy on the moggie with those prawns. You know what cats are like. before you know it you’ll be feeding it caviar and champagne because it won’t eat anything else.

    The dog’ll eat anything anyway

    Yeah, cats are way pickier eaters than dogs. I once had a dog you could throw a cereal box at and he’d eat it. We once accidentally shut him in the bathroom all day and he got out by eating the door.

    But cats can like unexpected foods too. Our male cat goes crazy for cheese, ice cream and cantaloupe. Our female likes French fries, and last night I caught her sneaking ketchup off my plate. And I once had a cat who loved peas.

    Cats are also very brand loyal. Change their brand of cat food and they’ll starve rather than give you the satisfaction.

  • Lumpy

    It baffles me how u can go from the hypocratic oath to government having a responsibility to provide healthcare. The oath impllies that doctors should provide free healthcare if anything..

    Neither govornment nor society signed off on the oath, so why on earth would they be bpund by it?

  • bliffle

    It’s easier to go from Hippocratic oath to UHC than from whatever-we-have-now to $13billion subsidies for oil companies.

  • Jesus

    Wow..

  • Jacob

    A typical prescription drug that costs $320 can be purchased for $90 through a health care plan.

    The same drug costs $24 from the VA.

    Is someone making an obscene profit?

    BTW, the health care plan price went up 50% this year.

  • Clavos

    “The same drug costs $24 from the VA.

    Is someone making an obscene profit?”

    Maybe, but your examples don’t prove that.

    The whole point of insurance is to spread the cost of an insured item or service over a large cohort of clients, instead of the entirety of a given payment coming out of only one individual’s pocket.

    In the case of the VA, the government covers part (or as in my case, all) of the cost paid to the pharmas for drugs, and to a much greater extent than an insurance or HMO plan.

    The prices you quoted are not what was actually paid to the pharmaceutical firm in either case.

    Yes, they do make good profits, (that’s why people buy their stocks), but they also spend enormous amounts of money on developing and testing their products, so that prescription that cost you $3 per pill (the price of some of my wife’s scripts, e.g.), represents far more than simply the direct cost of producing that one pill, which is likely substantially less than $3.

  • Jacob

    Clavos — what you say is of no value to someone who cannot afford insurance.

  • Clavos

    What I said was not intended to be of value to someone who has no insurance, it was addressing your query:

    “Is someone making an obscene profit?”

  • Jacob

    How many millions have no health insurance?