The Horror, The Horror of Socialized Medicine!

August 5, 2007

Lindy Washburn, writing in today’s Record, gives a timely warning of the horrors that await Americans if they are beguiled into adopting a system of socialized medicine along the lines of Canada or the U.K. Long waiting periods, rationed care, lack of access to cutting edge medical technology . . . all the terrible things that nasty Castro-loving commie Michael Moore wants to inflict on us all.

Whoops, hold on a minute. Turns out those horrors are already here, courtesy of the American way of medical care:

That’s the dirty secret of breast cancer care around North Jersey these days: The waits to find out if you have cancer and what you should do about it are agonizingly long — and getting longer.

Several free-standing mammography centers have closed, forcing more women to go to busy hospital breast centers for their annual screening mammograms. At Hackensack University Medical Center, for instance, women must book screening appointments five or six months in advance.

As the remaining centers cope with more patients, very few provide results of mammograms while women wait anymore. If news is good, most mail them out within a few days. If a mammogram shows something suspicious, patients are notified quickly, but often have to wait an excruciating week or longer to be squeezed into the schedule for a follow-up test.

“It’s a pretty significant crisis,” says Dr. Gail Starr, director of imaging at the Institute for Breast Care at Hackensack University Medical Center. “It’s definitely a challenge, with these centers closing. Where can they [the patients] go?”

Now comes even more worrisome news: More women are skipping their annual mammograms. It’s a potentially deadly trend, because breast cancer rates had been improving dramatically as a result of the widespread use of mammography.

The writer has plenty of specific information to back up her conclusion: “Mammography is a procedure proven to save women’s lives, yet the economics of American medicine doesn’t support it.”

Michael Moore’s healthcare polemic Sicko has been in the theaters for several weeks now, and after conducting my own informal survey of right-wing magazines and blogs, I find the conservative response to Moore’s call for European-style universal healthcare in America is either (a) universal healthcare would be bad because all government programs are yucky, or (b) Michael Moore is fat. Paul Mulshine, the Star-Ledger’s resident winger, is a little more ambitious: he wrote that all government programs are yucky AND Michael Moore is fat. Meanwhile, Neil Cavuto and Jerry Bowyer, reporting from somewhere beyond the orbit of Pluto, put their heads together and came up with the idea that universal healthcare would lead to more terrorism, because . . . well, it’s hard to tell why, to be honest. Probably because Michael Moore is fat.

Leave it to George W. Bush to spill the beans. After all, in a little over a year he gets to pack up his swag, strut on back home to Crawford and leave his messes for somebody else to clean up, so what does he care? When it came to expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, Bush’s position, boiled down to its essentials, was that an expanded SCHIP would be more efficient and less expensive, thereby undermining the conservative position that all government programs are yucky.

The Record article is yet another reminder that America’s healthcare system is a national embarrassment, quite often a lethal one, and that we have much to gain by taking our cues from countries that have found a less wasteful, more civilized way to protect the health of their citizens. Putting on Milton Friedman wizard robes and waiting for the magic of the marketplace to do the job hasn’t worked out too well.

You don’t even have to argue strictly from humanitarian grounds. Universal healthcare would be a vast boon to businesses that now have to get involved in the time-consuming task of selecting health plans for their employees. It would free up even more of that entrepreneurial energy the wingers like to talk about. If you don’t have to worry about leaving your family without adequate healthcare, you’re that much more inclined to start that new business. Universal healthcare would clear the way for more dynamic and risk-taking approaches that would ultimately benefit all of us.

Do you think this argument might win over some of those conservatives? Or will they just giggle and tell me that Michael Moore is fat?


One Response to “The Horror, The Horror of Socialized Medicine!”

  1. Bill Bowman Says:

    See. what many people don’t get is that we already have a socialized health care system in this country, and for th emost part it works pretty well. In fact, I was covered under it until I was 21.

    It’s called the military.

    All active and retired service members and their immediate families are covered under this policy. (Children until they’re 18, or 21 if they go to college). The way it used to work for me was this: I’d go to Patterson Army Hospital on Ft. Monmouth, where I would first stop at the main desk for get my records. Then I could see either a doctor or a dentist or an eye doctor, or whoever else I needed to see, based on what was ailing me. I would check in, wait in the waiting room, and be examined. If drugs were needed, they were prescribed, and then I walked down to the pharmacy to have the prescription filled.

    Everything was done in one facility, and we didn’t pay a dime.

    Socialized medicine. In the US military. And it works. Imagine that.

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