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Government Health Care

Does Walter Reed teach us anything in the call for health care reform?

by Richard Mr. Moo Moore
March 11, 2007

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Government Health Care
As have many Americans, I have been embarrassed by the conditions that have come to surface at Walter Reed Medical Facility. Mold. Roaches. Mice. Poor plumbing. The list goes on. During a recent special on television, I wanted to vomit as I watched the conditions exposed at Walter Reed.
It is an embarrassment for this country to be spending so much on a war and have their injured troops come home to receive medical care at a facility that looks no better than housing in the slums. But it is true. I have to wonder about the lack of preparation at medical facilities to deal with those coming home with injuries.
While I would love to point the blame at the war and those who led us there, I can't. It seems to me that the medical care for active duty military and veterans has been in need of a overhaul for many years. And why?
It is not that the American public says that health care is not a priority. All Americans should have access to the best health care in the world. And that goes double for those who developed medical problems as a result of serving our country in the military.
But this is not a column to focus on the ills of health care for the military.
I simply want to ask a question.
If this is the way that a governmental agency runs health care, what makes us think that universal health care under the control of the government is going to be any better?
Now I know that my friends on the left would say that Walter Reed is run by the military and not by health administrators. But I find it hard to believe that a rough and tough Marine drill instructor is heading up medical care for the military. Who is in charge at Walter Reed and every other veterans or military hospital in the country? Even a pasture dweller like Mr. Moo knows that you should tap the best in the field (pun intended) to run or administrate a project.
Before we rush into government run health care for everyone, we better take a good hard study at other countries that are already practicing medicine in that form. Where are the problems? What about quality? Waiting time for procedures? In a perfect world, everyone would have top quality medical care. I don't think even the most stringent libertarian would argue that. But we are far from a perfect world.
If we think we should head down the road of government run health care, you better head into the program with eyes wide open. Be honest about the problems that would exist. Look at the quality or lack of it. Don't get blinded by the fact that we have to do this no matter the cost. Some would say: "It's a right, after all."
Do I want every American citizen to have top of the line health care? Sure. But the question we have to ask before we run into the issue of government run health care is this: Is the top of the line health care and government health care the same thing?
If we have learned anything from Walter Reed, the answer is an overwhelming no.

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mattie from liberty writes:
March 11, 2007
"Our" govt. can not run Walter Reed Slum Hosp., area hotels and apartments where our wounded troops have to stay and expect these warfighters to make the best of their injuries. I want to see our Decider and his neocons to see what is going on and put in lots of person-to person time, to see the insomnia, tatered nerves, LOTS of brain injuries, just to mention a few. Our Decider and neocons should be held accountable for all cost. These high monkeys have the money to spare for our wounded. I know what it's like to go through brain surgery, it's a long trip back to recovery and I'm a lot older than these young battle troops. As for govt health insurance, forget it. The pubic would be holding another "bag of bull." (:

mattie from liberty writes:
March 12, 2007
If I may quote a confrontation with the president and a Dem. Sen., a decorated Vietman verteran, who opposes the Iraq war and whose son is in Iraq...The Sen. wanted to avoid the Decider. The Decider approached the Sen. and asked,"How's your boy?" The Sen. barked back, "I'd like to get them out of Iraq!" Well!!! "That's not what I asked you" out of the Decider's mouth. Not to be out done, the Sen. said, "That's between me and my boy." Ever so true. Get out. (:

Tom Wilson from Eldorado Blvd., Apt xx, Broomfield writes:
October 30, 2007
It kills me to hear you generalize Walter Reed's failings into a proof that universal health care would fail. First, we already have it - except for the 50% underclass who are unaffiliated with any organization. But I'm talking about insurance - if Vets could go anywhere with universal insurance - Walter Reed would sink into its mud.

I just started Medicare, in fact - the coverage appears wonderful. It's even better than the Great West insurance I had up to last February, but then my prior employer's managers, after ruining a once great company, made yet more money selling it to a California firm run by a egotistical guy who cares nothing for his employees or the technology or past employees of buy-outs (namely top execs at Brocade, who previously were VP(s) for my employer, McDATA).

I am disabled, in chronic pain, in a wheelchair for two years now, with huge prescription costs. Suddenly, without any warning, my prescription coverage was being refused. I was certain it was just new, untrained or idiot support people; however, it was much worse. At the end of February, 2007, I learned that my excellent (COBRA-extended) insurance was cut off on Feb. 1st and I had to go through open enrollment with Blue Cross Blue Shield of California! I was assured everything would work out. Well, after paying about $9,000 per month out-of-pocket, plus a good $15,000 in attorney fees, Blue Cross Blue Shield WON! OUCH! There goes a big chunk of my retirement! These are the guys that had the "use it and lose it" policy that the State of California was fighting (for the state employees) in court. (I don't know the outcome.) Blue Cross executives had actually conspired at the highest levels to identify those who were using their insurance and canceling their policies! You think that's not possible, of course. I can only recommend using Google to find out the details. In addition, my new employer (so to speak), Brocade, also had it's top executives in court for stock fraud of some sort. But were they possibly being unfair to me? Of course not! My attorney sent appeals more than once that B.C. simply claimed they never received. That was the slow-it-down- forever tactic (SIDFT?). They also did this to my pain management doctor. However, the big kicker was that the FDA, as bullied by the DEA, more eager than ever under the Bush commitment to the failed war on drugs, was setting the guidelines for doctors to prescribe pain medication. My medication, Actiq, has only been proven "safe and effective" for cancer patients. The insurance companies use any excuse to refuse reimbursement. Never mind the fact that I had taken it safely, at the same level, for nearly four years! But our institutions have themselves been co-opted by this new police-driven policy - my Oxycontin is especially scrutinized because of a few addicts - those terrible victims" - and the notoriety that blew up around its illegal use. Forget the 99% of legitimate patients for whom these drugs provide a life! Enduring pain is like being stung into a coma - you cannot think, you cannot call anyone, use the computer or move - you are frozen, paralyzed.

Ok. I'll let you go know. But it's a long story and if these corrupt insurance companies and employers who are shaving their employee coverage were stopped - simply by universal insurance, such as Medicare Part D, it would make a world of difference. Maybe not for you, but for those less fortunate and even those who are fortunate - until a random surgeon destroys critical nerves.

I know you mean well, but think carefully.


R P Collins from Auburn, Alabama writes:
October 31, 2007
Walter Reed may have been the worst health-care facility in the country -- but it's not clear. The U.S. is the world's richest nation, but it doesn't class among the richest nations in quality of health care. The World Health Organization ranked the U.S. 39th, after Costa Rica.

On a personal note, I have seen how the system is broken. A hard-working poor woman in Birmingham, known to me, had a heart attack and was given a pill and sent home. When she was finally hospitalized, I witnessed how the quality of her care was determined by the degree of involvement of her family and neighbors. I was one of them. Our health care system is a triage system, with personnel stretched to the limit and rationing their attention. It is a disgrace, but it will not change as long as Americans are cowed by fear of change, and awed by the make-believe offered up by the insurance, pharmaceutical, HMO, and hospital corporations.

One of our most cherished myths is that government always fails and private enterprise always does things better. It's a formula for persuading people to disengage from their government and let the "specialists" run it. It is ominous.

I recommend "The Health of Nations," Ezra Klein's well written comparison of health care in Canada, the UK, France, and Germany. It's online.

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