June 24, 2007
Sicko enters the debate
Unless you have been asleep over the past twenty or thirty years, you know that our health care industry is on the verge of collapse. Maybe it has already collapsed. No need to parade the statistics but one guarantees a collapse of our private health care delivery fiasco: 47 million of us have no coverage at all and no doubt millions of others have inadequate coverage. Stories of patient dumping on skid row in LA by hospitals; hospitals in our major cities, including Milwaukee, closing emergency rooms; doctors and nurses trying to deal with full emergency rooms with folks who can't pay for service. ("Service" is an odd word in this context. When a person's life is hanging in the balance is it "service" that is requested or is it full attention to saving a life? Dare we ask--is there a right-to-life outside the womb?)
How is the industry dealing with this little problem? Denial is the best description. "Long waiting lines" in Canada or Holland is the mantra, whereas in America you get quick service and wait in comfort to see your doctor. If you have insurance, that is. If you don't, a trip to Canada may seem like a small price to pay.
But here is the rub. Ever since my childhood, I've heard the line that people in Europe and Canada hate national health care. (One of the front groups for the insurancce industry put it this way: "In America, you wait in line to see a movie. In government-run health care systems, you wait to see a doctor.") I believed them until we lived for a year in the Netherlands and discovered that everyone loved national health care. Our doctor made a house call! Any politician in Holland advocating a return to a system like ours would be hooted off the stage.
I believed them about Canada until we had Canadian friends, some rather conservative, who swore by the system.
I remember when the doctor's bill was more than the hospital bill for a stay in the hospital. I remember my grandfather, a doctor in Oshkosh, saying to me, "Socialized medicine will come in your lifetime because of greed in the medical system."
Long windup for the pitch to see Michael Moore's new film, Sicko. This movie will, I predict with confidence, be a decisive factor in the outcome of the Democratic primary in 2008 and the general election. The people have heard all the bullfeathers and they don't believe it.
Moore declared war: "It's being run like a war. I mean, we're in a battle with these corporations who want to maintain their position." Moore's army starts with a majority of Americans who want single-payer health care delivery.
If our health care system was working, the hospital and pharmaceutical industries would dismiss Michael Moore as a nut. It ain't working and they can't claim it is. With a straight face, that is.
Go Michael! Count me in your army.
Some good news. Majority State Senate leader, Judy Robson, a nurse by training, will have a vote this week on a plan that would give everyone in Wisconsin the same health-care plan that the governor and legislators get: "The health-care system has imploded. We can't fix it. States can't wait. We're going ahead."
Robson for President?
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