The Neocon Republicans are on the move. They have formed a committee called, I think, the GOP Health Care Solutions Group. Now, we already have two Democratic bills coming out of the Senate, one that looks to be close to the final bill, and at least one coming out of the House. They have been worked on in committee for months and now the Neocons want to start work on their own bill. We already know the basic outlines of their bill. Health Savings accounts of $5000 per family and tax breaks of some kind for small business. Keep the rest, the status quo, that their health insurance buddies and Newt Gingrich designed long ago that is ruining the American People.
They recently gathered several people in a hearing to testify against the Canadian and British single-payer systems, forgetting, for some reason, that we are not legislating a single-payer system. Pretending that we will have a “socialist” system is easier than fighting the truth. What we will really have is explained in the post on Sentor Dodd and the HELP legislation on this blog. The bill is too long, 1100 pages, but writing health care legislation for posterity is more complicated than a stuffing another contract for Halliburton into an appropriations bill.
Richard Baker has a Canadian company, North American Surgery, Inc. He runs a service for wealthy Canadians who do not want to wait the length of time it takes to have certain surgeries done in Canada. Remember, we are not talking about the Canadian system here. Yes, we will have a public option to have leverage with private insurers to bring costs down, and to provide a fall back position but we will have primarily a private system.
Baker makes money by promoting the fact that Canadian health care is too slow, and if he can, that it is dangerously slow. The Canadian Government and 95% of all Canadians when surveyed disagree. But guess who agrees with him? American Neocon Republicans and the Heritage Foundation. The Repubican approach is to simply scare the hell out of everyone. Because it is scary the way Baker, who is not a doctor, tells it. He tells a moving story of a 28-year-old woman in diapers from back pain or from morphine addiction. She had to come to the U.S. for surgery. I am told this makes no sense. But back pain can be debilitating and morphine addiction has all kinds of side effects.
If this were to happen here under the new HELP legislation, she would either have reasonably priced health insurance or the public option. If she had the public option and didn’t like it, she could buy private insurance because there will no longer be any impediments, like pre-existing conditions. Anyway, listen to Baker and ask yourself if this is not a total appeal to emotion rather than reason.
Baker’s business is sending people from Canada to the United States for medical procedures. When not making money doing that, Baker works with the Heritage Foundation and the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a group that compares the effort of other physicians to get universal health care to Mao Tse-Tung’s Communist Great Leap Forward.
He speaks before the Heritage Foundation, William Mellon Scaife’s organization, famous for wanting to kill any universal health care. Scaife is also known for funding the Swift Boat attacks on Sentor Kerry, Paula Jones’ law suit against Bill Clinton and funding the Western States Legal Foundation, headed by Gail Norton, which seeks (and partially succeeded under Norton as Secretary of Interior under Bush II) to mine, drill and cut all the timber from National Parks.
Another testimony was taken on the phone from Great Britain from Dr. Karol Sikora, an oncologist. He has written about the problem in the UK system of not providing the best medicines for cancer and some other life-threatening problems because of cost. And he’s obviously right. There are some new drugs that are more effective that cost as much as $50,000 a dose.
We should stop here to note that those same drugs, the biologics, are the ones for which the new legislation would give drug makers an extra 12 years to have exclusive rights. That was in exchange for the $80 billion in price concessions to help fund our new health care system. Some call it negotiation. Others, blackmail.
Here is something Dr. Sikora said in an article in the Manchester, New Hampshire, Union Leader:
“Partly as a result of these restrictions on new medicines, British patients die earlier. In Sweden, 60.3 percent of men and 61.7 percent of women survive a cancer diagnosis. In Britain the figure ranges between 40.2 to 48.1 percent for men and 48 to 54.1 percent for women. We are stuck with Soviet-quality care, in spite of the government massively increasing health spending since 2000 to bring the United Kingdom into line with other European countries.”
Well, of course, the UK has changed under Gordon Brown somewhat on this and is improving the system, according to Dr Sikora. But that isn’t the point. See what it says…”to bring the United Kingdon into line with other European countries.” They spend more than the UK. That’s how they get better outcomes. Pay me now or pay me later! If the Neocons are so concerned with better outcomes, they can look to these real socialized medicine systems in other countries of Europe. But they don’t even want to spend the money we’re talking about now. They need tanks and guns and contracts for oil drilling.
Congresswoman Judy “Less than Zero” Biggert of Illinois, a sleepy-eyed, aging, do-nothing took her less-than-sagacious shot at the new, phantom “socialized medicine” being proposed by the Democratic Party. She said that “my daughter told me” (her daughter is for some reason an expatriate living in London for the last 11 years) that drugs cannot be purchased across more than one “zip code.” Wrong, says Dr. Sikora. Next. Daughter says that if you go to a private doctor for drugs, you can’t go back to the private system. Wrong, says Dr. Sikora, it was the initial policy but changed long ago. Daughter says, says Biggert, that you can get an appointment with a doctor but a referal to a dermatologist can take as long as 18 months. (Aha!) Nope, says the leading medical authority (the one Republicans hoped would knock the UK system…and who has knocked the system on occasion)…if something were to look malignant, you would go to the dermatologist immediately. What about hip replacement..Biggert says…or slipped disk (Anything. Work with me, doc!) Daughter says takes a year. No, no, says the cancer specialist. Waiting times better than used to be. The waiting times for these kinds of things about 18 weeks (four months.)
We see why Biggert is in Congress from a heavily Neocon district. In private practice she would have just cost her client his house, car, mortgage and business. Dumb, dumb…dumb.
Next, comes the good old country boy from Texas, Sam Johnson. His job is to knock the availability of doctors. “Five million without doctors?” he asks in his best good old boy imitation. No, says the witness, we don’t have that many people in Alberta (or wherever it was) but maybe 800,000. Still a lot without doctors, says Sam, and he’s right but then he makes a mistake by asking what do they do then? They go to clinics, says the favorable witness. We have clinics (sounds like all over the place) where, she says, people can just walk in. But to get a doctor is difficult, she says. Have to be nice to the doc and then he or she may take you. Just like here.
It is a sad state of affairs in a socialist state, says good old boy Sam, looking downcast and shaking his head sorrowfully. But we should remind Sam that in his country the monoplistic American Medical Association controls the number of doctors, producing each year 6,0000 fewer graduates for residencies than are needed. Not to mention the fact that there are more residencies needed. Shamefully, Cuba has by far more doctors per capita than we do. And of the doctors we do produce, a much higher percentage go into specialties, where there is less doctoring and more money.
So out there in the Texas hills, poor old Sam and his buddies should welcome a system in which we can and will solve Tex’s problem with a whole new set of guidelines for how many doctors we will produced…based on need, not only holding doctors’ salaries at elevated levels by restricting the supply.
There is a rule in lawyering. It is a similar rule for holding a hearing in which you want to prove your point. Know the answers before you ask the questions.