Saturday, August 01, 2009

Weekly Round Up (on Health Care Reform)

Here are a few articles, opinions, and resources you need to be familiar with as you discuss health care reform with family, friends, and colleagues.

Bruce Dixon, at Black Agenda Report, has been very critical of Congress and President's Obama's approach to health care reform as too weak and too eager to seek the kind of bipartisanship that can only spell disaster for Democrats (in that it will do nothing to win over moderates and will do everything to piss off progressives). Read Dixon's latest opinion.

Republicans are resorting to the same type of scare tactics that helped to keep them in power for 8 years prior to Obama's election. Their current target? Seniors. They are trying to scare the living bejesus out of seniors with crank concepts like "end of life rationing", euthanasia, and so on. Now, we all know that seniors are very susceptible to bullshit, which is surprising because they have a lot of time on their hands to read and do research. Many though lack the intellectual discernment or the curiosity to see through the bullshit of the Hannitys and the Limbaughs of this world (not to mention their misplaced reverence and almost total lack of suspicion for their elected representatives.) I know, I am generalizing, there are plenty of smart seniors around. It is just that it does not seem like they are the majority of seniors, and that is a problem.

The Bill Moyers Journal profiles an organization called Remote Area Medical. This is the kind of volunteer organization that, like Doctors Without Borders, you expect to operate in the Third World or in countries affected by natural or man-made disasters. You simply do not associate such organizations with providing health care services in the country that, above all, prides itself on standing up to the rest of the world as an example to be followed and imitated.

The Journal also has a rich and growing section dedicated to health care reform, which you should bookmark, visit often, and share with everybody you know. It will have an impact.

Elsewhere, David Sirota points out that 13 lawmakers, hailing from states with a combined population of 13 million, are holding the rest of the nation hostage on health care reform. It's a result of a political system in which South Dakota or Oklahoma hold as much power (in the Senate) as California and New York. Sirota rightly points out that
"[t]hanks to our undemocratic system and our corrupt campaign finance laws, the health care industry doesn’t have to fight a 50-state battle. It can simply buy a tiny group of congresspeople, which is what it’s done. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, health interests have given these 13 members of Congress $12 million in campaign contributions."

An ironic development in the health care reform debate is that President Obama's own physician "respectfully differs with him on his approach to health reform." Dr. Sheiner explains: "I was supposed to be at the recent town hall meeting at the White House where I was to ask a question of the president, but my visit was cancelled at the last minute, presumably to prevent the national airing of my views on health reform." Turns out that the good doctor supports a single-payer system, like Canada's for example, a topic which has been studiously avoided and swept under the rug, though the President admittedly supports it.

To close this roundup, you should read The Truth About Socialized Medicine. It is a first-hand comparison between the American health care (non-)system and the health care services you receive when you are lucky enough to live in Finland (not exactly one of the world's powerhouses, and yet--at least on health care--so much more civilized than "Number One!!!)

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