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Is healthcare a privilege or a right?

by Ed Raymond | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Gadfly | March 22nd, 2017

How can we be so stupid?

So here we go again with healthcare costs. Doctors once were paid pigs, chickens, and veggies for delivering babies. But now we have $10 Tylenols, $1,000-a-day pills, $10,000-a-day hospital rooms, $100,000 surgeries, $300,000-a-year drug protocols, and $500,000 organ transplants.

We are the only industrialized country that does not have health insurance for all its citizens—and sometimes even visitors. A visitor to Paris who ends up in a hospital has the bill paid by the French government. Yet we spend almost 55% more than the next country -- France -- and we still have over 20 million people without insurance while every other industrialized country covers everybody.

It takes a couple of years to collect information on health care expenditures from over 195 countries, so 2013 figures are the most reliable. (But 2016 figures will prove to be worse!) We spent $9,086 per person while France spent $4,361.

If we use the gross domestic product (GDP) of countries to measure health care costs, we are still at the top. We spent 17.1% of GDP (Our costs in 2016 have already been measured at over 18%) while France spent 11.6% and the British National Health Service cost the United Kingdom 8.8%.

The GDP figures for some other OECD countries (all with universal care systems) indicate we are wallowing in our own stupidity: Sweden 11.5%, Germany 11.2%, Canada 10.7%, Japan 10.2%, and Australia at 9.4%.

We do have the best health care in the world for our One Percent, but for the majority of the 99 Percent it ranges from mediocre to terrible. For the first time in recorded history the life expectancy of the U.S. white race is declining and our infant mortality rate is rising.

What about the “conservative” ideology, as spouted by Paul Ryan?

The Republicans who are in power are not classic conservatives. They seem interested only in two things: cutting their own taxes and filling their own wallets.

Classic conservatives insist that the entire society, from rich to poor, are valuable members of society and contribute mightily to its success. That means that health care is not a privilege, it is a right of all citizens.

Otto von Bismarck, the chancellor of Germany for many years in the 19th century, well-known as an arch-conservative, was certainly not a wild-ass liberal. But he recognized that for a society to be successful it had to be healthy overall, so he, known as the “Iron Chancellor,” pushed through a national health care plan for Germans in 1883 and added accident and old age insurance in 1899.

He was not like our dumb-ass “conservatives” that power the Republican Party today, opposed to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and dozens of other programs that help to make a society healthy.

Another smart conservative was Prime Minister Winston Churchill. He realized during World War II that “everybody in the country irrespective of means, sex, or occupation shall have equal opportunities to benefit from the best and most-up-to-date medical and allied services available.”

Churchill was certainly not a wild-ass liberal either, but he pushed the English National Health Service through Parliament, that still serves the U.K. today.

In contrast, the “conservative” Ronald Reagan, beloved by most Republicans, made a recording titled “Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine” in 1965, popularizing that famous scream “SOCIALIZED MEDICINE!” used by dumb-ass Republicans every time health care was mentioned in the last five decades.

Big pharma prescription drugs kill more people than auto accidents

The American health care “system” is now such a morass-maelstrom of individual, shareholder, doctor, hospital CEO, insurance CEO, and drug corporate greed that it is beyond redemption. In the end, the only system that will work for all of us now is a single-payer universal care plan complete with price controls on drugs and all aspects of medical care.

Actually we need more study on death “profit” and the use of death panels. The health insurance industry for years has hired thousands of “expert deniers” and spent billions of dollars trying to screw the sick and insure only healthy people!

In 2016 we spent an average $59,100 on the last year of life. That almost has to be criminal fraud. Between the ages of 70 and 90 medical expenses for the elderly more than double, and a person 90 and over costs over $25,000 annually, based primarily on nursing home costs.

Meanwhile, back at the bank window, health care CEOs are really cashing in. The top nine masters of greed make more than John Martin of Gilead Sciences at $18.76 million. Profit mounts up when you charge $1,000 a day per pill. Leonard Schleifer of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals tops the list at $47.46 million.

Some of the others: Jeff Leiden of Vertex made $28.09 million also selling drugs. Alex Gorsky of Johnson & Johnson made $21.13 million selling more than baby oil and powder. Ken Frazier of Merck made $19.89 million selling opiates to thousands of overdosed or dead West Virginians. We now kill more people with prescription drug overdoses than we do with autos that run into things at high speed. Thanks, John, Ken, and Leonard.

U.S. medical care is getting so expensive there has been a tremendous increase in medical tourism, particularly to Southeast Asia. A couple with no health insurance who needed an estimated $6,000 in dental work done, decided to go to Thailand for the work. They had root canals and implants done and had enough money left from airfare and dental work to spend a week at a rather exclusive resort on a beautiful island named Ko Kut—and still saved money.

Here’s one way to force Congress to approve single-payer universal care

I do have a plan to drive hospitals into bankruptcy so they start screaming for single-payer universal health coverage. Actually we have a type of universal coverage already because of the Emergency and Medical Treatment and Labor Act passed in 1985. According to that law, hospital emergency rooms must treat all comers.

Please urge all the uninsured in your neighborhood, all 22 million of them, to go to the emergency rooms of their local hospitals even with a sniffle and ask for treatment. They have to be covered and treated. In the end, all of us pay for that care through higher insurance premiums, increased hospital costs, and by overtreatment of the insured. The last estimate I read the average emergency room cost in the U.S. runs about $1,500 for a few minutes work.

To encourage this type of use, I use the example of an uninsured Pittsburg woman who went to an emergency room and was diagnosed with acute myelogeneous leukemia, a real killer. She was in the hospital for six weeks.

Her treatment ended up costing about $100,000 and she couldn’t pay a cent of it. If we had single-payer universal care she wouldn’t have had to worry about it. We should pay for universal care with income taxes paid by everyone who makes enough money to pay a fair share of taxes. That’s what a thinking, caring society does---like the rest of the civilized world.

A women’s health care question for Fargo Catholic Bishop John Folda

A couple of weeks ago, Bishop Folda responded in a Fargo Forum letter to a white supremacist’s racist diatribe with this statement: “The Church affirms the innate dignity of every human being, and proclaims that we are all children of God, who creates and loves each of us as his sons and daughters.”

Oh, is that right? What about the LGBTGQ community that now involves about 60 genders? Is a “dignified” transgender or bisexual a creation of God? Is a lesbian a creation of God? Are they children of God? If so, why doesn’t the Vatican and Pope Francis make a declaration to that effect? Or, are they still going to hell?

Each year Fargo Catholics march downtown and protest in front of the abortion clinic, even if abortion is the law of the land. I have never been able to get an answer from a local bishop or Church authority how they would counsel a pregnant mother who faces this situation.

A Missouri couple who spent four years with fertility specialists had failures of two in-vitro procedures and multiple-failed embryo transfers. Finally they were successful with a third procedure and she was pregnant.

But at a 21-week examination it was discovered the fetus had developed bilateral multicystic dysplastic kidney disease. There was no kidney function and she had no amniotic fluid. This meant her lungs would never develop.

Three doctors certified the disease was 100% fatal to the fetus and would present a very dangerous situation for the mother. (Let’s remember that obstetricians and gynecologists estimate that 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriages.)

The doctors and parents decided an abortion was absolutely necessary for the health of the mother, so the pregnancy was terminated at 21 weeks and five days. But before they could agree the parents had to endure a 72-hour waiting period to “consider what we were doing.”

The mother was forced to hear her fetus’s heartbeat, to watch an ultrasound, and had to study a packet containing abortion information. Here’s another case of dumb-ass (I apologize for using this expression again—but it fits beautifully here) politicians and Bible-thumpers getting between doctors and their patients. Well, Bishop Folda, how would you handle this health care situation? And would a Catholic hospital perform this very necessary “women’s health care” abortion?

A proposal for men’s health care

Catholic women get abortions at the same rate as the rest of the women in the U.S. That is not an alternative fact. Catholic, evangelical, and Bible Thumping politicians have tried to make legal abortions very difficult to obtain by placing roadblocks, building codes, time constraints, distance, and other restrictions too numerous to mention. Texas men have been very good at it.

Texas State Representative Jessica Farrar’s bill would fine men $100 for masturbating and require rectal exams before men get Viagra prescriptions.

Farrar says:”Texans deserve to be treated with the same amount of respect when making health decisions regardless of their gender.”

I see by the mainstream news that the Vatican is again having all kinds of trouble with sexy priests having gay and straight orgies in Rome itself. Perhaps the Vatican should hire Farrar as a sex consultant or therapist. She demonstrates a lot of common sense for a Texas girl.

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