As we all know, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
After Peter Jennings' version of the evening news (90% anti-Soviet propaganda and 10% pro-American propaganda. At least the old boy was predictable), the local news came on. After the obligatory five minutes of murders, rapes and robberies, they offered the profile of a middle-aged woman. I remember her name. Wanda. I remember what she looked like. I remember the trappings of poverty that surrounded her.
She was making a public appeal for donations so that she could afford her cancer medicine.
I am a person who reacts to things quite strongly and, oh, it made me angry! Of course, it is ill-spent energy because one individual sitting angrily in her livingroom in the mid-80s doesn't change a bloody thing.
I'm not going to provide a litany of references, documenting how ridiculously expensive the medical care in this country has become. This isn't an academic exercise. It's just a human exercise. Inspired by several others who are addressing social justice causes on their blogs this week, I've been pondering some of my pet causes.
This far, I will go. The HMO system has contributed to this failed system. Malpractice insurance has contributed. Marrying insurance and health care has contributed to this. Marrying profit to health care and insurance has doomed it. But the fact remains that the day any human being in has to get on television to beg for the money to buy cancer medication is a shameful day in the history of this very wealthy country. It is amoral, unethical and evil. We should all be collectively ashamed!
I am, as I've mentioned previously, on Social Security Disability. My health care is provided by Medicare and Medi-Cal. Medicare is far too complicated for the average person. (I am within a few IQ points of qualifying for Mensa and I couldn't understand it!) It should be simplified. Medi-Cal is actually a very good model for a universal health care system. I am required to co-pay on both medications and doctor visits. It is just enough money to discourage any low-income person from going to a doctor frivolously. It is set up as a mock "HMO", including a geographic requirement. The clinics, doctors and services provided to me are provided in my own neighborhood. Personally, I believe a PPO model would be better but, hey, I won't knock it because it works. Medi-Cal does not cover vanity procedures or unnecessary procedures that might be ordered by a doctor to increase his or her own profit margin.
This is the only solution I can possibly imagine for the long term. Most people pay in excess of 30% of their income in taxes. Instead of filtering it to Halliburton and the Bush War Machine, we need to use those tax dollars to assure basic human rights to every person in this country. We already pay enough in funding to programs such as Medicare, Medi-Cal (just a cutesied-up name for Medicaid) and other uninsured programs to afford universal health care.
As the old saying goes, let the Department of Defense hold a bake sale for funding... or better yet, let 'em beg for it on TV.
**An addendum: I meant to add this and it slipped my mind. Occasionally, I will highly recommend a blog here. While I like all those I read, sometimes something reaches out and grabs me by the throat, similar to Sevenwinds' post of last week about the little boy he adopted. In this case, it is because of a stunning writing talent. I was at one time a professional writer. My meanderings were printed in a newspaper each week that had a fair number of subscribers. I can string words together... but this blog is so well-written, so passionate, that you will feel the words. Please give it a look. Spend some time there. You won't be sorry. :)