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Letters to the Editor

Wrong solution

February 28, 2009

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To the editor:

Dr. David Goering’s recent opinion that a single-payer system, i.e. government-run health care, is the ultimate solution for America’s health care financing is naive. He lauds the Medicare model when, in fact, Medicare spending has spiraled out of control and, even before the onset of the current recession, the program was slated to go broke by 2019.

Is Dr. Goering genuinely recommending everyone jump on that wagon? And what proof does he have that this would save billions of dollars? Since when did government-run anything save money? When politicians and government bureaucrats are spending other people’s money, they have no incentive to cut costs, especially when their spending and the regulations they place on private enterprise puts more power in their pockets.

When one has to foot the bill oneself, one does much better getting value for one’s money. Which brings us to some legitimate solutions for health care financing: 1) lower taxes on individuals, enabling them to acquire insurance or create a health savings account on their own; 2) increase insurance company competition by allowing people to purchase policies across state lines; 3) allow individuals to join together in pools so they can purchase insurance at lower rates; and 4) give tax incentives to clinics and hospitals to facilitate the implementation of measures that increase efficiency. This is the U.S.A., the republic of liberty, capitalism and opportunity. Let us work together to empower individuals with free-market solutions rather than empowering big government with its socialistic offerings.

Dr. Matthew G. Buxton,
Lawrence

Comments

VTHawk 5 years, 5 months ago

Dr. Buxton writes a great LTE. As much as single-payer sounds good in theory, count on our government to ruin it. Single-payer is the reason that so many Canadians cross the border into Vermont for health procedures, and why so many foreigners still come to the United States for innovative new treatments. Once the government decides costs for treatment, you can count out any exciting new innovations from our drug manufacturers.

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labmonkey 5 years, 5 months ago

All I can say is good LTE. This guy must be a medical Doctor and not a professor...he makes too much sense.

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viewfromahill 5 years, 5 months ago

"... lauds the Medicare model...."

Imagine the health care savings to be realized with a supplanting of the "Medical" model.

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monkeyhawk 5 years, 5 months ago

Dr. Buxton is one of my all-time favorite doctors. That opinion was formed before I read this letter, and now I like him even more.
Thanks, Doc.

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cfdxprt 5 years, 5 months ago

Dr. Buxton,

Where is your practice? While I'm overall satisfied with the medical care my doc does, he's proving through his letters to the editor that he's a socialist and dumb on many subjects around the world. The wife thinks I'm kidding when I say I want to switch providers - you sir have a convert, smart thinking.

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monkeyhawk 5 years, 5 months ago

Tom, that is good advice.

All socialists should be required to register (like the landlord registration), so that the general public can make informed choices about whom they wish to do business with.

That sounds like a worthy grassroots operation we could start right here in Lawrence.

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monkeyhawk 5 years, 5 months ago

Foolish little log, that is the whole point! We don't want your stinking federal program. We pay for our own health care, and yours as well, I'm sure.

But I have been re-thinking this grassroots effort. Remember the Boog Bucks thing? Instead of registering socialists, we should start a program to promote businesses and services who subscribe to free market principles. They could post little symbols in their windows or on their vehicles. There could be a national website to direct future clients to them. We could have little parties and host marathons, etc.

Of course, any registrant would have to be fully vetted.

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viewfromahill 5 years, 5 months ago

"See folks the fascist right in all it's glory."

I'm even amazed by the turnout, this morning. (On the other hand, maybe we now have enough for a support group.)

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1wetwilly 5 years, 5 months ago

Enough of the "free market" rhetoric. If anything, the last eight years of Republican free market corruption proves that the free market is controlled by greedy, rich, corrupt people....many are corporate owned physicians.

Their single concern is personal enrichment regardless of cost to patients and society.

How about if doctors lower exhorbitant fees and stop the cozy kick-backs from pharma companies.

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Godot 5 years, 5 months ago

Excellent LTE! Thank you, Dr. Buxton!

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viewfromahill 5 years, 5 months ago

There is no "free" market.

(How do these myths persist? Ah, conservative cavemen. Perhaps the state should be renamed "Cansas"--although that first syllable cleary would bely the reality.)

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Richard Heckler 5 years, 5 months ago

Dr. Goering has been researching this matter for a few years. He does know what he is talking about.

The privatized insurance industry has been on their gravy train for at least 70 years. 70 years and no help in sight. For to them medical insurance is nothing more than a RETAIL OBJECT making billions upon billions of dollars due to the misfortune of others.

60% of medical insurance is paid for with your tax dollars and mine. The more subsides are added. This is not specifically fiscally responsible spending.

Who's telling us medicare is going broke? Special interest politicians and the industry. Yes politicians on the medical insurance special interest campaign money gravy train. Not necessarily creditable sources.

Sen Max Baucus and the democratic party are failing USA citizens on health care! Who wants $200,000 health care dollars going to Sen Baucus to spend on a political campaign? Think of the millions upon millions of health care dollars being wasted on political campaigns and lobbyists. Hillary Clinton and John McCain came in 2&3 after Baucus.

• Myth busters: http://www.pnhp.org/single_payer_resources/mythbusters_by_the_canadian_health_services_research_foundation.php

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Richard Heckler 5 years, 5 months ago

Socialism : Wall Street Bailouts - for years now

Auto industry bailouts - for years now

Big oil subsidies - for decades now

Nuke Power subsidies - whooaaaaaaa

Coal Fired Plant subsidies - no kidding

Tax Abatements - for years now despite consistent failures and stealing tax dollars from the cookie jar

Local TIF projects - that which steal tax money from the local cookie jar

Local socialism aka Suburban sprawl has been rightly blamed for many things: destroying green space, increasing air and water pollution, fracturing our neighborhoods and forcing us to drive gridlocked roads for every chore. But there is one consequence that usually goes unmentioned - sprawl is draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes.

Local socialism aka Sprawl is the result of over five decades of subsidies paid for by the American taxpayer. These range from the obvious to the obscure and include big projects-like the billions we spend on new roads as well as smaller ones-like the tax-breaks that encourage businesses to move to the edge of town. We've subsidized sprawl at such a basic level for so long, that many people believe the status quo is actually fair and neutral. This is false-what we think of as a level playing field is tilted steeply in favor of sprawling development.

How we subsidize sprawl:

* building new and wider roads
* building schools on the fringe
* extending sewer and water lines to sprawling development
* extending emergency services to the fringe
* direct pay-outs to developers

How do we subsidize sprawl? http://www.sierraclub.org/sprawl/report00/intro.asp ================== Unlike the above National Health Insurance pays back tax payers through paying our health care bills at a much reduced rate. What can be more american than taking care of americans for a change.

Think what can most american families expect for about $2700 annually?

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Richard Heckler 5 years, 5 months ago

HR 676 would cover every person for all necessary medical care including prescription drugs, hospital, surgical, outpatient services, primary and preventive care, emergency services, dental, mental health, home health, physical therapy, rehabilitation (including for substance abuse), vision care, hearing services including hearing aids, chiropractic, durable medical equipment, palliative care, and long term care.

A family of four making the median income of $56,200 would pay about $2,700 in payroll tax for all health care costs.

HR 676 ends deductibles and co-payments. HR 676 would save hundreds of billions annually by eliminating the high overhead and profits of the private health insurance industry and HMOs.

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Godot 5 years, 5 months ago

I like monkeyhawk's idea. I'm not sure we need a symbol. One clue might be the absence of the stench of patchouli.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 5 months ago

So, in other words, the reason that the healthcare system is messed up is that we just aren't banging our head against that wall hard enough.

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Godot 5 years, 5 months ago

The reason the healthcare system is messed up is because government stuck its nose in it forty some years ago, and the system (not the care, but the system) is on the brink of failure as a result.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 5 months ago

Yea, we can just ignore the fact that insurance companies layer on needless inefficiencies merely to justify their profits for doing absolutely nothing useful.

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boltzmann 5 years, 5 months ago

Here is a question for those of you who oppose government assisted universal health care.

Why is it that we spend nearly twice as much per capita for our non-universal health (ca. 6K per person) care than countries like Germany or France (ca. 3K per person) with government assisted universal health care, but, by nearly all measures, this extra spending does not lead to any significant increase in quality of our overall health care over these other countries.

I am asking this because I am genuinely interested in your take on this - so please try to give a serious answer without namecalling.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 5 months ago

You're a socialist, boltzman-- no other response will be forthcoming.

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Richard Heckler 5 years, 5 months ago

As of this year HR 676 has 94 co sponsors in the house and a senate version is on the way.

I say bring on HR 676. It will save taxpayers money. Place all federal workers,retired military,all disabled vets, all who are drawing social security and the 50-60 million uninsured on HR 676 ASAP.

Open it up to state governments and school districts for their employees = tax dollar savings.

In general open it to all.

And those who wish to stay with corporate american insurance plans can do so. Let them have this choice.

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Richard Heckler 5 years, 5 months ago

Yes Health Care Not War Fare is so much more productive.

National Health Insurance pays back tax payers through paying our health care bills at a much reduced rate. What can be more american than taking care of americans for a change.

WHY wouldn't TAXPAYERS want THEIR tax dollars to cover the expense of THEIR own medical insurance? What in the world is wrong with that? What could be more american?

• Last but least HR 676 makes America more employable,. • This also frees up who knows how many new small business people that create new jobs and local revenue. This is about those who remained with an employer solely for medical insurance coverage. Now the door is opened for new small business people.
• YES HR 676 opens many many doors.

*Now we're talking economic growth = more long term economic growth for americans by way of long term employment.

Are Americans ready for HR 676? Of course they are.

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Kryptenx 5 years, 5 months ago

The rightwingers are out in full force this morning championing the free market like it's actually been successful. Wake up! You're in the middle of Kansas, where farmers are subsidized left and right. The free market you speak of does not exist in America, and the free market that does exist in America has brought upon the current recession. The status quo fails. Why do you continue to think that the choice between saving or neglecting a life should be based on profit?

Before you call me anything, use the correct term. It's democratic socialist, and I'll stick to calling the rightwingers ignorant bigots.

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jaywalker 5 years, 5 months ago

"See folks the fascist right in all it's glory. What's next? We have to wear Jewish stars too?"

"We"? No no, log. A big 'L' on your forehead would suffice.

The LTE is good, but has some fairly obvious inaccuracies. Personally, I don't believe there's a way to solve the 'system' for everyone. Cede it out to our government = catastrophe. Besides, government's already big enough, so let's have them absorb that massive responsibility? Makes me shudder. If they gave up education to the states and adopted the Fair Tax thus reducing their obesity and power, then I'd be happy for them to take on the health burden. Otherwise, they've got their hands full with too much they don't run well already.

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Godot 5 years, 5 months ago

I think Logicsound04 might be right about something. One should not have the right to dictate health care reform unless one is a physician and a member of Congress.

Dr. Ron Paul!!

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camper 5 years, 5 months ago

I think the private health care insurance system is a mess, and the inflation on medical costs is astounding. I'm not so sure that health-care fits the same profit model as other business. I'm not so sure that government sponsored health-care is the solution either.

But I will say that there are many businesses (small and large) who would glady let go and not have to worry about the administrative costs and other hassles they must go thru to provide employees with insurance.

I say health care insurance should not be placed upon employers. I think individuals should buy insurance on their own....with two options. 1) through a private insurance company, or 2) thru a government sponsored insurance program that can pool those who cannot necessarily afford a private plan.

For those who are experiencing economic hardship, the government plan should be a cheaper alternative. And most importantly, anyone who has a serious illness should be treated. If this is a part of my tax bill....I'm glad I can help.

For me, I do my best to stay out of the doctors office and avoid the mess altogether.

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Kryptenx 5 years, 5 months ago

Pilgrim: I see you can copy and paste, again. Your little statement is proven frivolous for a couple of reasons: You use different terms for the same meaning (wealth, poverty). Since you feel it is OK to switch around terms whenever you see fit, then it follows that I am saying the same thing as you if I say:

Capitalism is the unequal distribution of poverty. Socialism is the equal distribution of wealth.

Same meaning, just with the terms switched around. Stating it like this would seem to make socialism more desirable. Since the same statement can be taken 2 ways, it really means absolutely nothing. This is not a statement of fact, but merely a play on the connotations of words.

Fail. Try again.

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akt2 5 years, 5 months ago

Sounds like a specialist that does not take Medicaid patients. Insured patients only, and it probably takes them a month to get in.

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OonlyBonly 5 years, 5 months ago

And here's a quote said directly to me by a Doctor at LMH. "Get the test's today. Stay tomorrow you won't even have to check out, We'll do the work on Friday. Anyway Medicare pays for it." Conclusion - It's not the "Medicare Model." It's those too interested in billing numbers rather than necessary healthcare!

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disgustedagain 5 years, 5 months ago

" the ability of the free market to force people to increase efficiency" Wow. After this economic year and bailing out banks and financial institutions with billions of dollars, individuals still believe in this "free market" crap?

Sounds like personal and professional reasons to fear changes in the way doctors get paid disguised as tired, debunked economic principles. akt2 is right: In Calif. right now, there are many people who have to do extensive searches and drives miles away to make an appt with a doctor who will accept Medicaid or Medicare or LATELY even private health insurance plans--instead these doctors prefer cash in hand. What does that tell you about their dedication to the health and wellbeing of their patients when the doctors realize that medical costs are way beyond the income of the average patient?

I remember when there was a mad dash to go to Med School and a huge percentage of students chose the profession for the potential to make big bucks not because of any personal interest in improving or saving lives. A bit like the recent mania for business degrees and going into the banking industry. The banking industry seems to be adjusting to years of allowing the "free market" to self-regulate by self-destructing and the medical industry can't be far behind.

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camper 5 years, 5 months ago

This is a good point. A good portion of private enterprise get's a good chunk of sales from government accounts. Here is just one example....Sisco Foods delivering to Public Schools and Military Bases. Is this Socialism? I think not. I think free enterprise can work in tandem.....just as long as you have in place good controls that can limit the amount of thievery which I estimate to be equal among both business and government (both right & left).

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camper 5 years, 5 months ago

I have tried to see if I can have my employer cut me from medical benefits and receive a pay raise. It just won't work.

My belief is if you have a serious medical condition, there is no reason why you should not be treated. I'd gladly pay into taxes to help, because (if family history repeats) I'm going to need to have my have my heart worked on. Until then, there is nothing more that I'd like than to give the insurance Biz the finger and go my own way. If my time comes, it comes. Here is my plan to prolong life and health....so simple:

1) Quit smoking and drinking 2) Get your protein from fish, nuts, beans and Omega 3 3) Eat fruit and vegetables when you are hungry 4) When you are hungry, wait, or eat a couple of apples 5) Drink fruit juice high in antioxidants like grape, orange, blueberry etc. 6) Exercise.

If you do this, I surely think limit your visits to the doctors office.

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Richard Heckler 5 years, 5 months ago

Dr. Buxton may have some problems with HR 676. There are some procedures that will not be covered under National Health Insurance such as nose jobs. No doubt insurance companies will still be offering coverage for face lifts etc etc.

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Richard Heckler 5 years, 5 months ago

"Sounds like a specialist that does not take Medicaid patients. Insured patients only, and it probably takes them a month to get in."

Dr. Buxton recently dropped medicare patients so I hear. The new medicare will look different from the current medicare so he may change his tune.

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notajayhawk 5 years, 5 months ago

Since everyone else here is so fond of cut-and-paste, I'll just repeat what I said on the thread following Dr. Goering's letter:

Someone on that thread mentioned that nobody should have to go into debt for an emergency room visit. That is true. However, the problem is with the cost, not with who pays. My wife recently spent 10 hours in a nearby ER for 'observation'; that's all they could do, as she was pregnant. They couldn't do x-rays, let alone a CAT scan or something fancy. Her treatment consisted of a couple of standard blood tests and a nurse coming by once an hour or so to ask how she was doing. The cost? Over twelve thousand dollars!

THAT is the problem.

Why is it that the doctor who ordered the x-ray can't read one? Why is it that a trip to the ER involves bills from six different physicians, most of whom the patient never saw? When did medicine become so overspecialized that one physician orders the test, a radiologist has to read the x-rays, a hematologist has to look at the blood workup, a GI has to review the liver enzyme panel? I'm not talking about spending a few days in an outpatient clinic to diagnose some rare tropical disease, I mean when you go to the ER with stomach pains?

THAT is the problem.

I'm in an allied health field (specifically mental health). I have worked in agencies where more than half my time is spent documenting and in other 'administrative' tasks - yes, it takes more time to write down what was done than to do it. This is not a billing issue - most of the agencies I've worked for deal mostly with the indigent and there IS a single-payer system, usually state funding. It's for regulatory compliance. It's to keep the government auditors happy that you actually did what they paid for, that you're employing EVT's, that they aren't continuing to pay for patients who aren't demonstrating sufficient (in their off-site judgment) progress. Yes, there's too much administrative cost built into healthcare, but not as much of it as you think is spent on billing insirance companies. (How much time do you think Dr. Goering actually spends preparing and sending bills to various insurers - really?)

THAT is the problem.

Malpractice insurance in some specialty areas can cost literally thousands of dollars per WEEK.

THAT is the problem.

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notajayhawk 5 years, 5 months ago

It's a travesty that the topic of cost-effectiveness based on life expectancy is even mentioned - ever! The fact that this is something that there's any need to consider is a travesty. When did we reach a point where ANY medical procedure, as complicated/innovative as could be, that might add five years to a person's life can cost ten years' (or more) of their salary?

THAT is the problem.

It seems ludicrous to complain about not being able to afford healthcare but not complain about the cost. We accept as a matter of course that an emergency room visit can cost $12,000, we just want someone else to pay for it. And as long as someone else is paying, whether private insurers or Uncle Sam, we don't scream about the price. The issue is not - and never has been - who pays.

It's the cost. THAT is the problem.

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dumbassamerican 5 years, 5 months ago

All this unamurican talk is makin my head swimm! This cunntree is goin in the same direkshin as all them other commee cunntrees oversees! We need to get rid of all govurmint and let the south rise agin! Rays the dixy flag an run out them commees NOW!

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real_american 5 years, 5 months ago

What Dr. Goering and his fellow travelers don't get is that life is not fair, and it's not the job of government to make it fair.

For example, if somebody comes and burglarizes my house and takes my property, I don't depend on the government to bail me out. I call the police!

And if someone hits me with their car, do you think I rely on the government to make me whole? Heck, no, I take it to court!

I'm sick and tired of socialists like Dr. Goering trying to take away what's mine and give it to someone else. No matter what the government says, my property is my property. And I've got papers down at the Register of Deeds and the Division of Motor Vehicles to prove it!

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real_american 5 years, 5 months ago

Liberty_One (Anonymous) says…

The job of government is to protect life, liberty and property.

...................................

You tell 'em, L_O! The left-wing loonies think this is some kind of democracy, where the people get together and decide what their government should do and should not do on their behalf. Nonsense! The government is suppose to protect my liberty to keep what belongs to me and live my life free of responsibility for my community!

A government that does anything beyond that is illegitimate. Who do the President and Congress think they are, representatives of the people elected through some Constitutional process? Sheesh.

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real_american 5 years, 5 months ago

Liberty_One (Anonymous) says…

The United States is a Constitutional Republic. Democracy is a form of tyranny.

Any action taken by a government beyond what is permitted by its founding documents is illegitimate.

...............

Hit the nail on the head again, L_O! Like that 17th Amendment that requires direct election of Senators by the people. Why, that's downright democratic. Slippery slope to tyranny, I say! Illegitimate! That wasn't in our founding documents.

Don't let the socialists fool you into thinking that there is some Article in the original Constitution that provides for amendments. Liberal media propaganda, that's all that is.

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notajayhawk 5 years, 5 months ago

max1 (Anonymous) says…

"The claim that malpractice insurance is a leading cause of high healthcare cost is a popular myth trumpeted endlessly by ignorant politicians. The fact is, the cost of malpractice insurance is a minor factor — less than 2% of all healthcare cost."

The claim that I said it was a "leading" cause is a myth trumpeted by ignorant posters with poor reading comprehension skills.

Hey, max, how much is 2% of 2.2 trillion dollars? To save you the trouble, it's about $150/year for every man, woman, and child in this country. Chicken feed, right? Not worth addressing? (Not if you can get the government to pay for it, anyway.) According to that wonderful NEJM study everyone keeps touting saying 31% of our spending goes to administration, only $259/year goes to private and government overhead costs.

In any event, the claim that half our healthcare spending, or even a third of it, would be eliminated by only having to bill one insurer "is a popular myth trumpeted endlessly by ignorant politicians." The fact remains, max, that even if you took out the administrative costs and profits of the insurance companies, the COST of healthcare in this country will still be astronomical compared to that in other countries, and all a government-pay system will accomplish is to bolster those costs with guaranteed payment.

Sorry to hear about your health issues, max, but turning your healthcare over to Uncle Sam isn't going to change anything. And for someone who's been a consistently outspoken critic of our government, it's a little difficult to fathom your faith in them to do any better with healthcare than they do in any other area.

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dumbassamerican 5 years, 5 months ago

I so much agree with Liberty_One and real_american! We need to get bak to thu fownding fatherland. We need to bring bak slavry an put them lazee welfare suckin colord folk back on the plantashions! Dixee lives! Rays the dixee flag for thu sowth will riz agin!

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