Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fix Health Care Before I Die, Please!

I've written once before about my concern over the way Health Care Reform is going. Or not going, as it should be more accurately described.

Frankly, it is a sad commentary on our political system that all the time and effort congress has spent on this issue may be wasted if, as now seems likely, no real change in our health care system happens. In particular I blame the obstructionism of the Republicans, though the stunning ineptitude of the Democrats is also a reason.

The Republicans continue to oppose the current health care bill, which no longer contains a government option as an alternative choice to corporate insurance, let alone any kind of proposal for a single payer system similar to France, Canada, Great Britain, and several other countries. Even the present proposal, Republicans argue, will be too expensive and will lead to too much government involvement in health care. The facts don't support either of these arguments.

There is abundant evidence that health care in America is inferior to that of the rest of the first world, and that we need to fix this -- assuming, of course that we believe our country should rank at least equal to other modern nations in providing access to affordable health care. In our local paper, West Hawaii Today, a recent letter to the editor captures much of my view so well I've reprinted it below.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010 8:33 AM HST Revealing the ranking

I'd like to correct Mr. Radmilovich's letter. The U.S. health care ranking isn't around 20th, it's 37th (World Health Organization). France is number one.

You might ask in what ways? How about hospital beds per 1,000 in population? France has 8.4, U.S. only 3.6. Winner France. Number of doctors per 1,000 in population? France has 3.37, U.S. only 2.3. Winner France. Life expectancy? France 80.87 years, U.S. 78.14. Winner again France.

As a matter of fact the only two ways the U.S. beats France in health care rankings is the percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), France spends only 11 percent, U.S. spends a whopping 17.2 percent -- and cost per person. The U.S. pays $6,096.20 per person, France pays $3,464.70 per person annually, That's $2,631.50 per person, or about 43 percent less than the U.S. pays, and France is number one and we are number 37. And France covers 100 percent of its citizens, while the U.S. covers about one in six of its citizens, (source,

This nation's four decades long experiment with "for profit" health care has been a cruel, inhuman, and expensive nightmare. And I don't see anything coming from either major political party that's going to make it much better.

H.R. 676 is the best way to tackle this mess, and nobody in corporate-owned Washington is saying anything about it.

Mark Stone


So, let's see. France (and other countries with health systems ranked higher than ours) provides more health care to more people for less money. If we're so superior to the rest of the world, as the Republicans insist we are, then surely we can figure out a way to accomplish what .... pittooweey!....France has done. Please, let's get on with it!

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