How intense the debate over health care has become

A few weeks ago, I noticed several people complaining about the inordinate amount of news coverage of Michael Jackson’s death. I enjoyed most of it myself, but then again I like licorice jellybeans. 

However I am tired of the “health care debate.” I’m not even sure how I feel about it except I’m afraid it will cost a lot of money and could turn into the teapot dome scandal of this century. I satirized the debate in a recent column printed int he Hendricks County Business Leader and the Johnson County Business Leader. I tried to approach the debate with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek, but some people didn’t understand that.

My own feelings are that we may be going a bit fast into this very expensive undertaking and whenever our government does things that quickly, bad things always happen to one group or another. Does something need to be done, perhaps, but we should have a long discussion to check every conceivable angle.

Here is an example of one of the emails I received about what a terrible conservative I am. Oh, if you want to read my column, you can find it in the issue of the Hendricks County Business Leader or the Johnson County Business Leader online at www.businessleader.bz. I’m withholding the name of the sender but he appears to be a British subject. I wrote him back and told him that my article was satire.

I have just picked up and read the Business Leader. I read the opinions regarding health care. I would strongly urge you both to present a balanced view of this emotive topic. Yes, I understand nobody likes the government ‘interfering’ in peoples lives, and in many ways support the notion.

However, health care is a very serious national issue. My start point is ‘The mark of a civilzed society is its ability to care for those who cannot care for themselves’. The USA is THE world leader in so many areas, with its values firmly placed on everone looking out for each other for the common good. This can be seen in so many small ways on a day to day basis, that it is truly heartening.

This should run to health care also at a systemic level. It is only by the grace of god that neither of you are one of those unfortunates who just cannot afford health care as it is currently constituted. People are turfed out of hospital or not even seen if they do not have insurance, and the many other practices that are counter to the Hippocratic Oath that is given freely by Doctors. The modern version is below.

At the time of being admitted as a member of the medical profession:

  • I solemnly pledge to consecrate my life to the service of humanity;
  • I will give to my teachers the respect and gratitude that is their due;
  • I will practise my profession with conscience and dignity;
  • The health of my patient will be my first consideration;
  • I will respect the secrets that are confided in me, even after the patient has died;
  • I will maintain by all the means in my power, the honour and the noble traditions of the medical profession;
  • My colleagues will be my sisters and brothers;
  • I will not permit considerations of age, disease or disability, creed, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, political affiliation, race, sexual orientation, social standing or any other factor to intervene between my duty and my patient;
  • I will maintain the utmost respect for human life;
  • I will not use my medical knowledge to violate human rights and civil liberties, even under threat;
  • I make these promises solemnly, freely and upon my honour.

Perhaps Doctors should be held more accountable against the oath, then maybe the need for health care reforms would disappear!

The insurance companies also do not help. They charge an ever-increasing fortune, and deny benefits as often as they can, wherever they can, so as to maximize their profits to the point that they are obscene. When the CEO’s can receive $48 Million or more a year (Anthem) in salary, then the system is sick.

Gus pointed to England’s (Britain’s) National Health Service (NHS) as an example of denying tummy tucks and other cosmetic type surgerys. For the record, Britan has a Publicly funded National Health Service AND a PRIVATE health Sector. The two co-exist in harmony. If you cannot afford private care, you can use the NHS. If you so choose you can opt to pay for private care (as in the USA).

In terms of paying for it, the NHS is funded by every citizen through the National Insurance Scheme which, proportionally is the same amount as FICA in the USA. In the UK, the government does not dictate treatment plans for ailments and diseases, the doctors do. The Government does state you cannot have ‘cosmetic’ surgery on the NHS as that is a misuse of its intent (unless there is psychological evidence presented by a qualified practitioner that the condition is debilitating to the quality of that persons life). Yes, sometimes you have to wait to be seen, as the most critically ill or injured pateinets are given priority. However, when you are seen, by and large it is by some of the best doctors in the profession.

I run a business and yes I do begrudge paying ‘unncessary’ taxes (like on my inventories that Johnson County charges for, when I have already paid sales tax). However, if everyone paid a little for the reformed health system it would be affordable and ensure many Americans did not die or suffer just for the lack of money! Not everyone without sufficient funds is a wastrel. Many are normal families who have to balance rising health care costs against mortgages, childrens education and so on. Did your parents have to struggle and juggle their funds to ensure you got the health care you needed when growing up? Are they struggling in their ‘old age’?

You both come across in your respective articles as uncaring, unthinking, unsympathetic extremists, which is probably not how you would describe yourselves, or want others to.

Mike, as a newspaper editor, you have a moral responsibilty to outline the case for and against in a neutral manner, not fall back on the use of emotion and scaremongering. Many people here in Franklin (that I have spoken to on the subject) are not aware of how the British NHS actually works, and are pleasantly surprised to hear that it works for the benefit of all (rich and poor).

Gus, your arguments seem flawed, biased and extremist to say the least. As a columnist I guess you you can say what you want, but please remember this a serious debate that will affect millions of decent, hard-working Americans who currently cannot afford any health care, or who are faced with choices between seeing a doctor for preventive care, or waiting until the ailment is so serious that they are beyond help. When it costs $100 dollars just to see a doctor, who then refers you to someone else for the most simple ailments at a cost of another $100 or so, then something is broken and it needs fixing. The debate should be on how! In this way, the USA can align the health care of its citizens with its values.

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One comment

  1. I am amazed that someone with this intelligence would take such an article and twist it. My advice to him – take a breath and read it with an open mind.

    Gus, the article is entertaining – and you did nothing wrong. This gentlemen obviously has not ready any of your articles. It seems unfortunate for him to tear anyone down – he needs to take his “knowledge” to a higher court.

    Business Leader is a wonderful service for Hendricks County – I am sure there are many others that feel the same way! But all you get to hear is the negative.

    Please note this one of the many “silent” positives.

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