Health care for the privileged or for all?

Which would you prefer?

I am pretty clear on what I would rather have.

Health care must be recognized as a right, not a privilege.

For the people who slavishly repeat the meme that our Federal government cannot provide any efficient service, I categorically disagree.


There are at least five excellent examples I know of (and many more) and have dealt with personally that epitomize efficiency and cost reduction:

  1. United States Postal Service
  2. Medicare
  3. Veteran’s Administration Health Care
  4. National Institutes of Health
  5. Food and Drug Administration


USPS:  For many years, for less than half a dollar, you have been able send an envelope anywhere in this country and have the confidence that it will get there quickly.  Likewise packages.  I mail things constantly and cannot ever remember anything getting lost.  When I go to the local Post Office, they provide all my supplies if I don’t have them already and help me put my package or envelope in the proper order to be sent with tracking, certification, registration, return receipt, delivery confirmation – all kinds of special added services, very reasonably priced.  They are polite and helpful.  There is always ample parking. There are boxes outside, so I can just drive through and drop my envelopes in.  What more can you ask? Neither my experience with private UPS or Federal Express has been this positive.  When I worked for larger organizations, they often used one of these two or other private delivery and messenger services.  Those experiences were often fraught with complications and they were all expensive.  As far as I am concerned the USPS is a model public service, despite its size and the fact that its employees are very modestly compensated.  I have already posted an anecdote on just one example of the opposite experience with a private service.

Medicare: I have to say very little to anyone about this.  Medicare, despite skyrocketing health treatment costs in this country, has worked efficiently for the vast majority of recipients, since its inception.  As with any massive program, it is adjusted and modified yearly.  Every major insurance company has to be reviewed and reevaluated for being signatory to Medicare every year and that means those partnerships are under continual scrutiny and modification.  That is what is going to transpire with the Affordable Care Act — there will be constant improvements made for the benefit of subscribers, including all parties (insurance companies, corporations, individuals, hospitals, and heath care workers).  My wealthy older relatives, all staunch conservatives, defend their Medicare coverage.  So, here is another widespread Federal program that works very well.

Hands off medicare

Veteran’s Administration Health Care:  For all that it may be behind, due to the enormous number of new enrollees returning from our never ending wars, in paperwork and fancy upgrades (which many on the far right would decry if those ‘luxuries’ were added to the system, believe me) in terms of providing general benefits to veterans, the health care system and housing that the Veteran’s Administration provides is second to none.  I have written previously about my Grand Uncle’s excellent treatment by the VA health care system, so I will not expand on that.  It is anecdotal, but, from what I have observed, I very much doubt there are a statistically significant number of failures or abuses in the program.

NIH: Do I even need to point out all the vital and cutting edge work that the National Institutes of Health do? Does this small group of obstructionists realize that 200 people are being turned away from enrolling in clinical trials, including cancer, every day that this shutdown continues?  When they resume, many of these people will have disease progression that precludes enrollment.  This is literally threatening the lives of innocent patients, many of whom are children.

FDA: Who out there is happy to see food and drug inspectors furloughed? Are these extremists willing to gamble their children’s and grandchildren’s lives just to stick a thumb in the eye of the President?  I don’t think I have to elaborate on the value of food and drug inspections.

VA healthcare

There are many other Federal programs that have worked quite well and whose value is backed up by solid research:  Head Start, USAID, the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, just to name a few.  I have little doubt that with time the ACA will function smoothly and we will all be the beneficiaries in myriad ways, including lower health care costs and a more productive work force that is contributing to society instead of being handicapped and dying prematurely due to illness.  If even 10 million more people were able to spend their money at local businesses instead of on disease-related goods and services, that injection into our economy would alone be a boon to us all.

In terms of life expectancy, infant mortality and other health outcomes, the United States lags behind almost every other advanced country.

All this nonsense about waste, fraud and abuse is a red herring promoted by big money interests.  If you don’t know this, you are not doing your homework.

postal worker

Meanwhile, read this article, if you want a clear status update about our current system, its failure, and what we have to look forward to, when we finally institute a 21st century health (not sick) care management system:

In 1961 Ronald Reagan raised all the same false arguments against Medicare, claiming it to be socialism that would end freedoms as Americans know it.  When he finally became President, he had to strengthen Medicare, so effective, valuable and popular had it become.  Medicare lifted 39 million elderly people out of poverty.  Before Medicare only about half of that population had medical treatment; following Medicare it was 97%.

What kind of mean-spiritedness is afoot in this country when people are gleeful that 800,000 Federal workers are now furloughed and cannot pay their bills.  Since when is this kind of schadenfreude American? And what about all the small to medium-size companies that transact with the Federal government, does our so called ‘job creator’ party — so concerned about businesses getting more than their fair share — care about those people?

Covered California had 5,000,000 unique hits today.  But the far right wants to deny those people health care.

This is not just an ideological revolt, this is an attempted coup – Americans should be very clear about this. The tea party has never accepted the outcome of the last two elections and is seeking to overturn them and defeat our democracy.

It is beyond petty and ignorant, it is craven.

These are not nice people.  Nice people don’t do this.

It is not socialism to think of “we” instead of “I”. It is simple decency and a hallmark of civilization.


10:00 AM Update Thursday October 3, 2013: This just came in from the New York Times:

Boehner Tells Republicans He Won’t Let the Nation Default

Damn good thing, too, as the markets are beginning to tank.  Maybe that is the only thing these extremists understand.



6 Comments on “Health care for the privileged or for all?”

  1. Well, if you demonize everyone without healthcare as lazy, shiftless, no-good, drug-addled, and un-American, then you can justify it. Apparently. Because Jesus would just let all those people die on the side of the road.


    • Thank you — Yes! That is a large part of this, definitely. I do not understand why this small segment of our population is so easily led down this path by the big money behind the disinformation campaign. Most of these tea partiers are not wealthy themselves, yet they apparently don’t realize that they are also just one disaster away from needing help. Don’t they pay attention to the acts of God like Hurricane Sandy or Katrina that can wipe away everything in an instant? What would they do in that case? Go live in the wilderness under a tent or ask for help? Every one of us probably knows a middle class hard worker who ran into a rough patch. I heard yesterday that 15% of the Republican congress, representing only 2% of America, is doing all of this. Does that seem right? Taking the entire world economy to the brink, for what?


      • They would ask for help, and feel totally justified in the asking. They believe they are the exception to their own rules. And when they need help, they believe it is somehow more legit than when anyone else does. When others need, it is a scam. When the have needs, it’s their right to receive it because they somehow “earned” it while nobody else ever has.


        • You hit the nail on the head. Yesterday, one of my BILs told me I should leave the country if I am such a socialist. His wife is a physician and yet she never opens her mouth to offer her opinion on this hard-heartedness – I do not know how she stands it. This guy has never had to worry about anything because everything has been paid for him his whole life, including right now – his wife’s lucrative practice, yet he begrudges it to others and becomes incensed when I suggest that he extend just a fraction of this largesse to the poor and needy.


          • I believe in other countries, doctors don’t have the potential to earn the salaries they are capable of here. I remember seeing a 20/20 documentary on healthcare in places like Sweden, Canada, etc. and while doctors made a decent living, they were not able to live to the extravagance they can in the US. So, she may be in agreement with him.


            • !! Why didn’t that occur to me? Of course, not just her, HIM. They are thinking that this will cut back on their income. I guess I just assumed she would be for the needy. They are likely already leveraged on what they are making. Thank you – that solves one mystery, if not the problem. It is so good to get feedback on my ideas, because I do overlook things.


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