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Archive for the ‘Health Care Policy (U.S.)’ Category

Democracy Now Talks Tommy Douglas and Health Care

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Thanks to The Louis Riel Trail for spotting this discussion of health care reform on Democracy Now.
DN sets up the piece with a reminder of who Tommy Douglas was.

As premier of Saskatchewan, Tommy Douglas pioneered a number of progressive policies there, including the expansion of public utilities, unionization and public auto insurance. But his biggest achievement was the creation of universal health insurance, called Medicare. It passed in Saskatchewan in 1962, guaranteeing hospital care for all residents. The rest of Canada soon followed, province by province. After his death, Douglas earned the title of “The Greatest Canadian” in a poll by the CBC.

The rest is a wonky (in a good way) discussion of the history and current state of Canadian health care.

Plenty of good intellectual ammo here for conversations with anyone who is not a dining room table.

Written by slothropia

August 24th, 2009 at 10:51 am

Et Tu, Barack?

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Soon after last fall’s election, I was at a Drinking Liberally session and said to someone there that if the left feels betrayed, Obama will be a one term President. I had no idea the betrayal could come so quickly.

If there is no strong public option in whatever health care plan is passed, the Obama administration and the Democratic Party will be dead to me. I feel so strongly about this not just because there are Americans suffering needlessly from the effed up health care we have now, but because economic recovery would be weaker without a system that works for all.

The U.S. spends twice as much as any other industrialized country on health care, and has worse and declining outcomes. How stupid does the Democratic Party have to be not to beat that drum on an hourly basis?

I could excuse and forgive failure, but it looks right now as though Obama is giving up and allowing the right wing (phony) Dems to destroy meaningful reform. Let the Democrats offer a bill that is worthwhile. If it is defeated by a coalition of GOP and Blue Dogs (and Senate equivalents) so be it. Keep fighting until you win, but always know what you are fighting for. It is better to do the right thing and lose than to win by doing the wrong thing.

And no, neither Clinton would be doing any better with Health Care than Obama is right now. If it was a cause either of them believed in they would have fought for it when they had the power. In fact, I am pretty sure that if HRC were president, the Begalas and Carvilles of the mealy mouthed Democratic center would have even more influence and the result re health care would be just as bad.

If the Democrats cannot get this one right, it will have declared itself terminally dysfunctional and deserving of euthanasia. At that point I would be interested in a strongly progressive party. Yes, I know that would help the fascist Republicans, but they get what they want now.

If the Democrats cannot get this one right, it will have declared itself terminally dysfunctional and deserving of euthanasia. At that point I would be interested in a strongly progressive party. Yes, I know that would help the fascist Republicans in the short term, but they get what they want now, when everyone hates them.

Written by slothropia

July 28th, 2009 at 10:07 am

Universal Health Care Now

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Cross posted at Daily Kos.

I was directed to this useful Ezra Klein post irt health care and entitlement reform by Bill Poorman (who btw does not seem all that poor but is definitely an example of male homo sapiens sapiens).

I am really pleased that health care reform is coming this year (apparently). Remember, though, that while the flat earth party is down, they are not out, and they can always count on the corporate media to propagate their distorted message. It is not currently doing the GOP much good politically at the moment, but they will still try to control the debate with lies.

We (those who see the necessity for sweeping reform) need to be aware of some pertinent facts when the bs starts flying.

For starters, the World Health Organization (WHO) ranks the United States health care regime as 37th in the world, just two slots above Cuba (see? Sicko was right).

Here is more from the WHO:

The United States spends more money on health care than any other country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The OECD consists of 30 democracies, most of which are considered the most economically advanced countries in the world. According to OECD data, the United States spent $6,102 per capita on health care in 2004 — more than double the OECD average and 19.9% more than Luxembourg, the second-highest spending country. In 2004, 15.3% of the U.S. economy was devoted to health care, compared with 8.9% in the average OECD country and 11.6% in second-placed Switzerland.

And what do we get for such profligacy?

The average life expectancy for a person in the United
States is 77 ½ years — slightly below the OECD average, and 4½ years less than top rated Japan (Figure 24). Life expectancy is nearly 2½ years longer in Canada than in the United States. The United States is ranked 22nd out of 30 countries on life expectancy at birth, but once people reach the age of 65, U.S. life expectancy improves to a rank of 11th for men and 13th for women out of 30 countries reporting.

What about infant mortality?

The United States has the third-highest infant mortality rate in the OECD, after Turkey and Mexico…However, this statistic is likely somewhat overstated because of differences in methodology. The United States is one of eight countries that counts very premature babies with low chances of survival as “live births,” which has the effect of increasing infant mortality rates over what they otherwise would be. Nevertheless, among the eight countries that report live births using the same methodology, the United States has the highest rate of infant mortality. Even with more consistent methodology, the U.S. ranking — which has been slipping over time — would probably not significantly improve.

These are the sorts of facts that Republicans and their friend in the insurance and pharmaceutical industries are most afraid of. Yet, according to a NY Times/CBS poll, the American public has made up it’s mind in favor of universal heath care in the face of a monstrous disinformation campaign that began during the Truman administration.

Looks like change is finally here.

Written by slothropia

February 27th, 2009 at 12:31 pm

PNHP Opposes Gupta for Surgeon General

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Cross posted at Daily Kos.

Physicians for a National Health Program has declared its opposition to the expected appointment of Dr. Sanjay Gupta as Surgeon General of the U.S. Here’s why:

Among our concerns are these:
1. He has very little background in public health, preventive medicine or administration.
2. He has openly opposed progressive health reform, going so far as to cite false information to denigrate single payer (e.g. in his error-laden attack on Michael Moore’s film “Sicko”) and parroting the health insurance lobby’s distortions of single payer.
3. As a media figure, he has been disturbingly cozy with Big Pharma. He co-hosts Turner Private Networks’ monthly show “Accent Health,” which airs in doctors’ offices around the country and which serves as a major conduit for targeted ads from the drug companies. Another example: In 2003, despite mounting evidence to the contrary, he publicly downplayed concerns about the dangers of Vioxx. It was removed from the market a year later by its manufacturer, Merck.
4. In the 2008 election campaign, his reporting on John McCain’s health proposals was misleading and implicitly positive, giving undeserved credence to McCain’s claims that buying private health insurance on the open market is a financially viable option for most Americans.

We urge you to write to President-elect Obama and express your opposition to Gupta’s possible nomination, and to urge Obama to nominate a more acceptable candidate for this critically important post. You can do so by clicking here: http://change.gov/page/s/healthcare.

Sincerely yours,
Quentin Young, M.D.
National Coordinator

Quentin Young is a Chicagoan, like Obama, who retired this year from a practice in Hyde Park. I wonder if he knows the new President socially.

Written by slothropia

January 8th, 2009 at 3:52 pm

Health Care: Mayor Bloomberg Gets It

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Just saw Bloomberg of NY on CNN interviewed by Ed Henry and responding to Prez Elect’s economic stimulus speech. It was pretty non-controversial stuff – sped money on city infrastructure, fix SS, etc. blah, blah – but something he said was music to my ears.

I am without a transcript or video, but what I heard was Hizzoner saying that something needs to be done about health care and health insurance because European countries spend 2k or 3k less per capita on health care than the U.S. and yet their life expectancy and other outcomes are improving while ours are declining (again, I am paraphrasing).

This is not the only argument in favor of universal health care, preferably of a single payer variety, but it is one of the strongest. It has the virtue being a pragmatic argument, and what red blooded American does not like pragmatic arguments. Yes, neo-con Republicans, I know, but they are discredited losers.

The good news here is that this statement of fact is becoming more widely distributed and on its way to being one of those things that “everybody knows’, aka conventional wisdom.

Written by slothropia

January 8th, 2009 at 11:45 am

Gaga over Gupta? Not Me

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It seems I am not the only one who would question Gupta’s appropriateness as a spokesman for the Obama administration’s future health care reforms.

Remember when Sicko came out? Gupta was right there with the Know Nothings, or Republicans as they call themselves.

As my close personal friend Paul Krugman says:

So apparently Obama plans to appoint CNN’s Sanjay Gupta as Surgeon General. I don’t have a problem with Gupta’s qualifications. But I do remember his mugging of Michael Moore over Sicko. You don’t have to like Moore or his film; but Gupta specifically claimed that Moore “fudged his facts”, when the truth was that on every one of the allegedly fudged facts, Moore was actually right and CNN was wrong.

Read the whole thing. I agree with everything Krugman says.

Written by slothropia

January 7th, 2009 at 9:45 am