We've moved!

Social Icons

twitterfacebooklinkedinrss feed

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Why Hurry on Health Care? Ask 22,000 Uninsured Americans... Before They Die

On September 11, 2001, a gang of terrorists took advantage of lucky breaks and a government asleep at the switch to kill 3000 Americans. In response to that massive loss of life, we re-organized our intelligence and law enforcement into a massive new Cabinet-level department and waged two wars off-budget at a cost of one trillion dollars and over 5000 American soldiers' lives (and counting) over eight years.

Right now, as many as 22,000 Americans die each year because they lack health insurance. (Feel free to fact-check that number by reading the study by Stan Dorn of the Urban Institute, which updated a 2002 Institute of Medicine study that put the number at 18,314 deaths per year in 2000. Politifact rates the 22K claim as True.). That's maybe 50—fifty— 9/11 death tolls since 9/11 caused by our own economy and policies. The President recognizes the urgency of the situation. He and Congress propose reforms to make health insurance more available and thus save thousands of lives each year, with a price tag of perhaps a trillion dollars over ten years.

But Republicans tell us that, 15 years after torpedoing the last serious effort at health coverage reform, we mustn't rush to action.

After al-Qaeda killed 3000 Americans, it took us two months to pass the PATRIOT Act and invade Afghanistan. If President Bush had said, "It's only 3000 deaths; let's take some time and have some more town halls," he would have been impeached (or thrown out the window by Dick Cheney).

Now, as the lack of health insurance costs us another 9/11's worth of American lives every month and a half, opponents of health coverage reform seem to think there is no urgent need for action. 22,000 deaths a year? Who cares? We've got a President to break!

Hmm... sounds to me as if the only "death panel" in the house is the Republican Party....

p.s.: Norwegian professor Jill Walker comes to the BlogHer conference and is "horrified" by what she hears about the American health care system. Dr. Walker says, "I genuinely don’t understand how Americans can think that free or close-to-free, universal healthcare as most other Western democracies have is a bad thing." Neither do I, Dr. Walker.


  1. Free bank bailouts, free cash for clunker rebates and now some free health insurance? The problem is that none of this is "free". We will pay for this unprecedented deficit spending through massive tax increases, but what you're asking for is a redistribution of tax debt. Those that work get to pay for those who don't.

    The better idea that is gaining strength is to consider using a cooperative health plan similar to the Washington State Health Care Authority that includes 600,000 people. It is worth studying as it is considered a shining star among cooperative health care programs.

    Obama is already backpeddling from a federally-run healthcare program, and perhaps the idea of letting states create their own plans will gain strength.

  2. "Obama is already backpeddling from a federally-run healthcare program ..."

    "Backpeddling"? Great word, whether intended as such or misspelled (from "backpedaling")!

    I think the only strategies that could win for the Dems on this one are:

    (a) Push the current bill though the house, and then allow the Republicans to filibuster it in the Senate, thereby making the Republicans look like real villains to a majority of the American people, or

    (b) Compromise with the Republicans, take time, and patiently alleviate the fears of those who have been misled by hyped-up conservative propaganda.

    I believe that pushing the current bill with its public option through by means of "reconciliation," while probably yielding a real law by the end of the year, would backfire on the Dems, a fact they would come to realize in the November 2010 elections.

    I also believe that the Dems have been shooting themselves in the feet by coining derisive metaphors of their own (e.g., "astroturf") and accusing the "town hall" attendees of play-acting and lying. That only increases the general rage, justified or not, reasonable or not ... "A gentle word turns away anger, but scorn arouses wrath" (Solomon's thoughts, still apropos today).

    I suspect that Barack Obama intends, knowingly or not, to model himself after Solomon. He will win that way. If he goes the arrogant route, scorning those who fear his health care plan, he will damage his credibility and that of the entire Democratic Party.

    Of course, I could be wrong ...

  3. Rod, I've heard the coops won't be big enough to solve the problem... but I need to do more reading on that topic. But I need to say again that I've never been under any illusion that a public option or single payer is free health coverage: I'm even ready and willing to see my taxes increase to pay for such a superior system to replace my inferior private insurance.

    Stan, it's a crying shame that we have to compromise or reconcile with opponents who are lying to get their way. And it's a shame that calling the Astroturf disrupters and play-actors what they are is turned against us. They're getting to use scorn and wrath against a reasonable, practical solution. Solomon sounds great, but I'm hard-pressed to play the sheep against people determined to use any means necessary (including deceptiona nd rage) to win.

  4. Deception and rage... kinda like MoveOn.org?

  5. Give me an example of verifiable deception, and your point is taken.

  6. Cory,

    Solomon was no sheep!

    The Dems don't have to reconcile with liars if they can convince most of the American people that their current plan will actually be better for them than what they have now.

    I'm not fooled by the liars and deceivers on the far right (or at least not most of the time, I hope).

    Maybe only a relatively small minority of the American public is truly fooled by the conservative propaganda.

    Maybe a majority of the public supports the current plan (insofar as they can understand it).

    Maybe the "town hall criers" really are organized actors.

    If all these "maybes" are "trulies," then the Dems need not and should not compromise.

    I think the use of "reconciliation" on a measure as important as this would be a dangerous game, and I think that Barack Obama is not by nature a gambler.

    Let the right-wingers string themselves up with their own rope.


  7. Yes Mr. Stan! Let people like Dick Armey and Glenn Beck hang themselves. Maddow called out Armey when he described Medicare without other choices as tyranny and Beck is on record criticizing our health care system just last year.

    How can you debate someone who doesn't care about accurate information? Maybe with a little time people will see their true colors.

    Benjamin Franklin might suggest "Men should be taught as if you taught them not, And things unknown propos'd as things forgot."

  8. There is no free or next to free health care anywhere. Just who do you think will pick up the trillion plus tab for Obama's proposed health care bill? The tooth fairy! I guess that is who picks up the tab in Norway.

    Linda McIntyre

  9. As I said above to Rod, Linda, I know it's not free. I intend to pay for it with the thousands of dollars I will transfer from my private insurance premium to an increase in my income tax and/or federal insurance premium. I'm not asking for free care; I just want a single-payer system (or at least a public option) in which I will get more bang for the buck.

  10. Addendum to above post: According to my better half, Norway has a very small population and a very, very healthy income from oil, so maybe the health care there is able to be funded without heavy taxes on the populace. In that case, maybe the good professor doesn't understand how our system works or how different our economy is from theirs.


  11. Actually, Linda, the source of Dr. Walker's horror was how we find it perfectly moral to ration healthcare based on ability to pay:

    "A woman in the audience at the healthcare and mommyblogging panel I somehow walked into here at BlogHer ‘09 just stood up and said that she’ll use google rather than go to a doctor simply because of the cost of healthcare. Her family has “good” insurance but it still costs them $300 to take a child to the ER!!! And more to go to the pediatrician."

    I welcome any economic analysis you care to offer (but doesn't the U.S. have oil, too?)... but it appears you are saying that rationing is better than funding a public health coverage system.

    I see the Norwegians do indeed have higher per capita GDP. Yet they still spend a third less per capita on health care. Hmmm....

  12. If the bill passes as Obama wants, there will still be rationing. The gov't will have only so much money, there will be more patients for no more doctors, and some will necessarily be rationed in care probably by either delaying or denying services as determined by some entity. How would that be any more moral?

    Yes, we do have oil. We could have a lot more if off shore drilling were to be allowed (which is where Norway gets it oil BTW) and the gov't would reap taxes from the same. But that isn't allowed. Why?


  13. But Linda, I still need to hear your explanation of how the Norwegians don't experience such problems, even though they spend less money per person on health care.

    And even if there is rationing of some sort, you need to convince me that the limitations on care people receive will be any worse than the limitations right now that result in 22,000 needless deaths due to lack of insurance. Research says we could save 22,000 lives just by making sure everyone has insurance. You need to show me that Obama's plan would result in the deaths of at least 22,000 other people to convince me I should vote against the plan.


Comments are closed, as this portion of the Madville Times is in archive mode. You can join the discussion of current issues at MadvilleTimes.com.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.