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Letters to the Editor

Poor standing

August 16, 2009

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To the editor:

In the media’s current hubbub surrounding health care town-hall unruliness, a stark fact has gone missing. The U.S. lags embarrassingly behind other industrialized nations in an easy-to-understand benchmark of well-being.

According to the CIA’s “World Factbook,” the U.S. ranks 50th in life expectancy, just one place ahead of Albania. Living much longer than Americans are citizens in countries with single-payer, government funded health programs such as France, the United Kingdom and Canada. I can’t think of a better argument for reform.

Last year, my 32-year-old cousin studying in Toronto was diagnosed with Stage 3 bowel and liver cancer. The speed, thoroughness and kindness of her medical care under the Canadian system wowed all of us back home in Lawrence.

Included in my cousin’s care, in addition to radiation, chemotherapy and surgery, was the harvesting and fertilization of nine of her eggs, so that someday she may have a family, in spite of her radiation. In the U.S., how much would that have cost out-of-pocket? That is, if one was lucky enough to have had insurance in the first place.

Understanding that government-funded programs across the globe lap the U.S. in prolonging life and giving quality health care would shut up even the loudest town-hall ruffian, if only plain facts could be made known above the din.

Comments

jaywalker 4 years, 8 months ago

Yer crackin' me up, nota!

All these stats are so subjective, as always. Being that we're probably the most well fed country, and being that alot of that food is particularly unhealthy (fast food, pre-made frozen dinners), how much effect does that have on the population's life expectancy? Particularly since the N.E. Journal of medicine recently found that less food is much healthier. Obesity, heart disease, diabetes as a result, etc. etc. How 'bout factoring in the stress levels of the populace as well?

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notajayhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

moderationman (Anonymous) says…

"Gosh Gnome, is that why AARP is running TV ads supporting reform?"

Gosh, mm, is that why AARP has said they are not endorsing the president's proposal or the current legislation? Is there one person in liberl looneyville that understands opposition to this pile of dog cr*p does not necessarily mean we want things to stay the same?


Brendan_Lynch (Anonymous) says…

"For those who attribute the U.S.'s pathetic standing in life expectancy to obesity or gun violence or American “excess,” please understand that the U.S. also has a sky-high infant mortality rate as compared to the U.K., France and Canada."

For those who attribute the infant mortality figures to healtcare financing, please understand that infants have the least exposure to that system and are also almost always covered by insurance, Medicaid if nothing else. (Gee, wonder if that's what's killing them?)

Hey, Brendan, lots of crack babies being born in those other countries, are there?

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Liberty_One 4 years, 8 months ago

Brendan_Lynch (Anonymous) says…

"Another problem is that the last administration barred Medicare from negotiating bulk prices from pharmaceutical companies or buying drugs from Canada … measures that I think free marketeers would embrace rather than jeer."

You make the mistake of thinking the Bush administration was in support of free market principles.

"As for providing government-run health insurance to active service military or veterans, I can't understand why any American would oppose offering those who put themselves in harm's way decent, inexpensive medical care."

I would rather increase their pay and let them purchase their own health care or keep the money if they choose.

"ask themselves if it really is wrong to pay taxes..."

There's no "paying" of taxes. Paying implies you have a choice. Taxes are violent theft of your money.

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Liberty_One 4 years, 8 months ago

sourpuss (Anonymous) says…

"It is called democracy. And if 51% want to “steal” from 49%, so it goes."

That's why we don't have a democracy in the US. We are a Constitutional Republic FYI.

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oldexbeat 4 years, 8 months ago

Thank you Brendan,

In a country where the insurance companies demanded 50 separate sets of laws (state by state), where you can't carry your insurance if you move from one state to another; where only a few states protect you if you have had a medical condition before and now can't get insurance, no matter how much you have paid; where only one or two states require that prosthetic devices are covered totally (with many returning veterans needing this coverage for life); where huge deductibles make people wait to get medical advice; where preventative medicine isn't rewarded for the doctors; where individuals can't deduct the same for medical insurance as companies can -- doesn't all of this scream out for major change?

Where's the 'No' party's suggestions? What other plans are being debated ? None that seem to come up with the negative speakers at the town hall meetings. (And ironically, many of the negative speakers admit to being on Medicare -- funny.) If I've missed some, please inform me.

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Brendan_Lynch 4 years, 8 months ago

Medicare is not bankrupt, or else those who depend upon the system would not be receiving health care today. I agree that it faces bankruptcy within the decade unless reforms -- such as those advocated by President Obama -- are enacted.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/01/AR2006050101448.html

One of the key problems facing Medicare are skyrocketing hospital costs, something current plans tackle through electronic record keeping, the increased market competition that a government-run option would offer and other measures.

Another problem is that the last administration barred Medicare from negotiating bulk prices from pharmaceutical companies or buying drugs from Canada ... measures that I think free marketeers would embrace rather than jeer. As it stands, Medicare is locked in to paying top dollar for drugs, when the volume of its purchases would easily command a bulk deal if the market weren't rigged in favor of Big Pharma.

As for providing government-run health insurance to active service military or veterans, I can't understand why any American would oppose offering those who put themselves in harm's way decent, inexpensive medical care. Especially, I would think Americans who respect military service would want to be sure that wounded combat vets are looked after and not thrown into our expensive private system that currently is geared more towards denying benefits on technicalities rather than providing care for those in need.

As I have a brother who is a combat veteran of Afghanistan, and who benefits greatly from the VA, I hope those who want to do away with government-run health would take a second look within their hearts and ask themselves if it really is wrong to pay taxes that ensure care for those making deep sacrifices to defend our freedom -- the kind of freedom that encourages the town-hall debates now underway.

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sourpuss 4 years, 8 months ago

Liberty_one says, "Lynch, I don't doubt that it is popular. Anything is popular where 51% of the people steal from the other 49%. You'll have no problem getting at least 51% of people to agree to it. The purpose of government, however, is to protect our rights, not violate them."

Right. It is called "tyranny of the majority." It is what keeps such things as segregation legal and same-sex marriage illegal. Supreme Court decisions are made 5-4. Laws are passed with 51 senators. It is called democracy. And if 51% want to "steal" from 49%, so it goes.

By the way, there are places in the world where democracy is not practiced and in these places the few very rich people get to do whatever they like. I'm just letting you know.

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akuna 4 years, 8 months ago

Hey Gnome,

The reason liberals keep bringing up the Iraq war spending is because there is a serious misconception about which party is fiscally responsible. I'll give you a hint, the fiscally responsible party is not the Republican Party. Republicans spend our money like its going out of style.

Here are the facts. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National...

There has not been an actual fiscally conservative Republican in power in the last 30 years. Republican leadership is lying to their constituents and the American people pure and simple.

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jonas_opines 4 years, 8 months ago

You'll be waiting for awhile. If people had to have justification for their endlessly regurgitated talking points, most of them would never be made in the first place.

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Roland Gunslinger 4 years, 8 months ago

Still waiting for that quote, Gnome. Thanks!

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Liberty_One 4 years, 8 months ago

Lynch, I don't doubt that it is popular. Anything is popular where 51% of the people steal from the other 49%. You'll have no problem getting at least 51% of people to agree to it. The purpose of government, however, is to protect our rights, not violate them.

As for companies, remember that corporations are a creation of the government to protect the wealthy. In a free market economy we would do away with companies and only have sole proprietorships and partnerships. Regardless, doctors used to charge patients based on what they could afford, most treating some for free. Increasing supply due to deregulation and decreasing demand due to lack of government purchase of health care would bring prices down in a free market.

Again you assume that medicare positively affects life expectancy yet you provide no rational or evidence to support such an assumption. Simply declaring that it is so indicates a dogmatic belief and an absence of rational thought.

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jonas_opines 4 years, 8 months ago

"Silence the dissent and vilify the dissenter, eh Mr. Lynch? Typical."

Just repeating the untrue doesn't make it any more true, STRS. The only part that could even possibly be considered either is where he suggests (naively), that a fact would shut up an unruly ruffian. (Not that such is true, information doesn't seem to me to actually have much of an effect on pre-conceived biases.)

So I suppose that now I can follow, truthfully, with this:

"Vilify the one trying for rational discussion, and at least offering more than just poor talking points.

"Typical."

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SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 8 months ago

Medicare is bankrupt, Mr. Lynch. It is an unfunded mandate which has an unsustainable cost trajectory. If you really cared about fiscal responsibility and were not focused on controlling the lives of others through more and bigger government programs, you would be clamoring for reforms to Medicare and Social Security.

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Brendan_Lynch 4 years, 8 months ago

Liberty-One:

From your comment, I assume you would like to do away with Medicare for the elderly, as well as heath insurance provided to members of the armed services. These would be highly unpopular measures, and would leave thousands of our most vulnerable citizens on fixed incomes to fend for themselves in a free market where companies are beholden to their shareholders fist, their insured clients second.

You should know that Medicare is one of the most popular programs ever enacted by the Federal government, and is one big reason why the U.S. is today number 50 in life expectancy, rather than further down on the list -- closer to third-world-type life expectancies.

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Liberty_One 4 years, 8 months ago

Lynch, again you make a huge leap of faith in thinking that there aren't other factors that play into the numbers. Infant mortality rates are affected by things like the number of high-risk pregnancies, the fertility rate, the rate pregnancies are carried to term, the interval between pregnancies, the breastfeeding rate etc.

I do agree that reform is needed as costs in our half-socialized system have increased significantly over the years since government began interfering in the market. We need to deregulate the insurance industry, health care industry, pharmacuetical and medical device industry and we need to completely end all governemnt subsidies for health care. Bring us back to a free market of health care instead of the government created travesty we currently have so that costs will come down and quality will go up.

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Brendan_Lynch 4 years, 8 months ago

For those who attribute the U.S.'s pathetic standing in life expectancy to obesity or gun violence or American "excess," please understand that the U.S. also has a sky-high infant mortality rate as compared to the U.K., France and Canada. This statistic can't be attributed to our high number of gun deaths or poor diets. These are infants, as pure as the driven snow, whose high death rates only can be connected to shoddy or nonexistent prenatal care, substandard in-hospital treatment, or a lack of insurance for the infant and mother. In this standing, we fall one rank below Cuba ... a country we've blockaded economically for five decades.

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2091rank.html

Again, these facts cry out for a reform of our system. It's a shame they are not being reported in the media, who are failing us in the same way they failed us in the lead-up to the Iraq War. We need facts, not shouted opinions. Yet the shouting utterly dominates coverage of the health care insurance reform debate.

I would defend to the death my fellow citizens' right to yell and scream in town meetings. The First Amendment allows for that. But I think the media has -- by focusing exclusively on bellicose town-hall confrontations -- done Americans a disservice. We deserve verifiable information that would help us to reach informed decisions, not just endless exposure to the the loudest, most confrontational town-hall dramas.

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SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 8 months ago

Silence the dissent and vilify the dissenter, eh Mr. Lynch? Typical.

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Roland Gunslinger 4 years, 8 months ago

bearded_gnome (Anonymous) says…

lynch engages in the usual tactic of the left now, of trash-talking his fellow americans who express their opinion…


Please point out what part of the LTE "trash-talks" fellow Americans who express their opinions... that portion of the letter didn't appear for me. A quote would be nice.

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jonas_opines 4 years, 8 months ago

canyon-wren: I'm sorry, but I cannot see any way that any single person with an unbiased mind can possibly think that the problems with unbelievable proposals by our government started with this administration. It doesn't seem to me like they've upped the ante any more than the previous one did in its turn.

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jonas_opines 4 years, 8 months ago

bearded_gnome (Anonymous) says…

"lynch engages in the usual tactic of the left now, of trash-talking his fellow americans who express their opinion…"

Please Gnome don't embarrass yourself like this. Compared to about 80% of your posts, this LTE was civil enough to be obsequious. As always when you complain about trash talking, the only thing you sound like is what you are in this case: a hypocrite.

I don't really care that you are cutting and caustic to virtually anyone with a liberal disposition, but you should certainly stop complaining about that behavior from others, particularly when it's much less obvious that your own.

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canyon_wren 4 years, 8 months ago

GM--I agree that people began distrusting the government a long time ago--'way before Bush, even. But that distrust has been magnified by the unbelievable things the current administration is proposing with no regard for public wishes. I think this adminstration is capitalizing on our distrust and trying to make it look like the "common man's protest" is just "rabble-rousing," instead of the only avenue we can take to show that we have had enough!

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GardenMomma 4 years, 8 months ago

I hear a lot of comments about how people are not trusting the words coming from the government. Surely that mistrust didn't just start with this election? Perhaps the people have been lied to so much that they can no longer tell truth from lie? Perhaps we have become so accustomed to being lied to that when truth is told we no longer believe it?

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Tom Shewmon 4 years, 8 months ago

Americans are into excess, did you ever consider Brendan, that we are our own worst enemy when it comes to our health and longevity? This well-orchestrated plan on the left to make the massive amount of protestors into trouble making loons is not working. They're now being referred to as "Republicans". I watched a piece on Hannity the other night with Frank Lutz, the guy who invented the audience "meter", and the audience was dead even split Dems and Repubs---about 30 people. The majority of this split crowd was not supportive of the direction Obama is taking America. It's not a Republican thing. This has been the greatest uprising since the Vietnam War, and we all know how popular that was. A broad swath of America does not want any universal health care and the price tag that comes with it. The price tag will be the final nail in our economy and Obama and crew, who now own this economy seem to want to develop reasons to make Americans feel they must depend on them, and seem to want to invent reasons to tax the bejesus out of us. It's a sham. Obama is in a corner now, and it's a no-win for him. Lose the support of most Americans, or lose the support of the ultra-left? http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/healthcare/august_2009/32_favor_single_payer_health_care_57_oppose

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Bruce Bertsch 4 years, 8 months ago

Gosh Gnome, is that why AARP is running TV ads supporting reform? Have you even read the bill or are you just using the Rush/Hannity talking points? Good lettter.

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barrypenders 4 years, 8 months ago

Only Obama and Republican money can save progressive mankind. Muslims get oodles of virgins when they die. Maybe thats why progressive mankind don't make fun of them like they do Christians.

Go Obama! Save us!!

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bearded_gnome 4 years, 8 months ago

lynch engages in the usual tactic of the left now, of trash-talking his fellow americans who express their opinion...that used to be an american value and used to be lauded by his ilk when it was his leftist buddies protesting Iraq or GWB.

part of why people are reacting as they are at the meetings is they refuse to be lied to anymore by their legislators. the greetings that our former governor and the junior senator of Missouri got recently were priceless.

many of us are very angry at the incredible debt the Obama administration has already larded onto our country, and don't give me spending on Iraq as the very vapid liberal response so often is. the debt Obama has put up, not including the proposed health care scandal, dwarfs all the debt ever tallied by all the U.S. government back to George Washington!

We don't want our bank account and other IRS info going all over the federal government. 70% of americans oppose taxpayer funded abortion, yet the bills are written such that abortion will get in there, and they defeat amendments to stop it. no, "abortion" doesn't appear in the bill, neigher do the names of many procedures.

We don't want an Obamacare panel of "experts" telling our personal doctors what's the best way to treat us.

we don't want massive cuts to Medicare/medicaid to "fund" the new scandal. cutting these will severely limit services, especially access to specialists for medicare/medicaid patients.

AARP, a very liberal organization that supported Clinton, Gore, Kerry, and Obama, now is running for cover, trying to claim they didn't support Obama's plans. that's because they're bleeding members who are quittting in protest.

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LiberalDude 4 years, 8 months ago

Great letter Brenden! I agree with you 100%.

Health care reform now!

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Liberty_One 4 years, 8 months ago

Lynch, you assume that the difference in life expectancy is caused by the different way other countries pay for health care. That's a pretty big leap of faith. The US has a higher homicide rate than those countries you listed, those numbers aren't adjusted for that. The US also has a high rate of obesity, the numbers aren't adjusted for that either. There are 100s of other factors that play a role in average life expectancy; to assume that the sole cause is that their government pays for almost all health care while our government only pays for most of our health care is naive.

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