07 February 2008

Need for Vigilance Never Ends

Last summer I was in a meeting with leaders of Colorado health care organizations. I offered that one of the problems being discussed would not be a problem if the United States had true universal health care through a single-payer system. Actually, most of the problems under discussion weren't problems in most of our peer countries, where there's guaranteed affordable health care for all. A woman who heads a Colorado health care organization, a group nominally for helping people who aren't getting needed medical care, replied sarcastically, "Right, and we'd all be out of a job."

It's possible -- probable, in fact -- that she was joking, and that she simply has really bad timing and judgment.

The fact is that we should all be out of a job, and able to move on to other things. There's lots that needs fixing in this world, if that's our passion.

And in any case, as a story on Medical News Today points out, you can't ever fix anything once and for all, any more than you can clean the kitchen once and for all.

The center doesn't hold.

In "Bush Budget Cuts Will Cripple U.S. Teaching Hospitals And Erode Medical Progress," the news links to a press release from the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Cutting indirect medical education (IME) payments by more than 60 percent, combined with other Medicare cuts affecting all hospitals, will have devastating results. Millions of Medicare patients-as well as the uninsured, the disabled, and the severely ill-rely on teaching hospitals for health care and community services. Such unprecedented cuts to these institutions will endanger their ability to provide the full spectrum of patient care and treatment, erode their fragile trauma and emergency services, and impede the progress they have made in advancing the health of all Americans through education and medical research.

Bush has said that we have universal health care because, he says, people can always go to a hospital to be treated. Evidently he wants to put a stop to that.

In the earlier days of Bush, my husband used to ask the conservative business people with whom he worked to name something that Bush had done competently. The Bush supporters could never come up with anything.

(At this point, I suppose if you were set on judicial activism -- finding more judges who would elect illegitimate presidents, for instance, always side with corporate interests, not concern themselves with personal freedom, etc. -- a person might say that Bush has done a whiz bang job of appointing Supreme Court justices...)

In any case, because it's always easier to destroy than to build, there will always be the need for health care advocates. There were in Britain during and after Margaret Thatcher -- and now, because that country is facing a lobbying assault of privatizing interests.

Canada has groups to save their popular Medicare system.

We'll still need advocacy groups. Not to worry about your job.

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