Brace yourself for a medicare moment

Discussion in 'Political Zone' started by Rocky, Jul 21, 2007.

  1. Rocky

    Rocky New Member

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    By Henry Champ

    Brace yourself, Canada. It's almost time for our cameo appearance in the U.S. presidential campaign.

    Look closely and any day now you may see a CNN satellite truck pulling up to the door of a large Toronto hospital, all ready to tell voters back home about the great Canadian medicare experiment. It likely won't be the only U.S. media outlet to make the trek north.

    Iraq is still the big campaign issue at the moment. But health care is gaining ground and if journalistic history is any guide, Canada won't escape the spotlight.

    One report will almost surely document the many, so-called victims of long waits for emergency operations. Another will cite statistics showing that Canadians are healthier and live longer than Americans, thanks to Canada's all-embracing system.

    A third may well document the number of Canadian doctors leaving the country to practise in the States; or perhaps the numbers of American doctors escaping the onerous supervision of the dreaded HMOs (Health Maintenance Organizations) for the creature comforts of Montreal.

    Control your anger, fellow Canadians, this will eventually go away. But not, I fear, for a while. This is going to be an intense campaign and already I can identify two events that should guarantee a long life for health care as an election issue.

    One is rebel filmmaker Michael Moore's Sicko, which hits North American theatres this weekend and in which, unbeknownst to me, I make a brief appearance as a generic Washington correspondent. The other is Hillary Clinton's speech earlier this week to the national convention of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a prime Democratic party backdrop.
    Whose Sicko now?

    Clinton has not yet unveiled her health-care platform, but she gave a peek by telling members of the gigantic union, "You know, I was in Detroit recently, and a gentleman, a UAW worker from the Wixom plant that makes Lincoln cars, told me they are closing the plant down. Some of the work is going to Mexico, but some of the high-value work is going to Canada because of lower health-care costs."

    It was a subtle jab, which is not something you'd accuse Michael Moore of.

    According to the press release for the film, Sicko highlights the struggles of ordinary Americans, some with health insurance and some without, as they navigate their country's health-care system.

    Moore compares it to those in Canada, France and Britain, which have government-run programs. He is quoted saying, "This has been a difficult film to make because we're dealing with a lot of people who are sick and a lot of people who have died, and I don't want this system to kill any more of my fellow Americans."

    Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, Roger & Me and Bowling for Columbine were box office blockbusters and opinion shapers. There is no reason to think this one won't be either, especially as health care (though trailing Iraq in the polls) is probably the most important bread-and-butter issue in the campaign.

    It also has a lot of resonance, perhaps especially for Hillary.
    Vote for Bill

    In 1992, I was working for another network and assigned to the Clinton campaign. Bill Clinton was making his mark by running on reform of the U.S. health-care system. He was drawing big, supportive crowds. I remember the bus tours through the Midwest and the always positive response when Clinton warmed to his subject. "Health insurance for everyone," he shouted. "Vote for Bill," they yelled back.

    One night in St. Paul, it was close to midnight when we arrived hours late for a rally and still some 45,000 Minnesotans cheered when Clinton talked of universal coverage.

    Unfortunately for his supporters, once he arrived at the White House Clinton made a hash of his efforts to produce a universal, Canadian-style program that could pass Congress. Lobbyists from the health community beat his brains in with smart strategy and big bucks.

    The defeat was so great that Bill and Hillary, who had a front-and-centre role in the effort, never returned to the health-care reform for the duration of his time in office.

    Clinton's successor, President George W. Bush had no interest in the issue, and offered only nibbles on the sidelines. But it is a new day in 2007 and '08.

    The Concord Coalition, a non-profit group that champions responsible budgeting, says skyrocketing health-care costs and retirement benefits will lead to a doubling of income taxes over the next 35 years.

    Most Americans report their personal coverage narrows every year and their costs mount. Nearly 50 million Americans are uncovered — no health insurance whatsoever — straining the nation's emergency wards.

    In 1992, the American Medical Association worked against the Clintons' efforts. Today the AMA membership is so split, it has opted out of the health-care debate.

    We Canadians know all about the strengths and weaknesses of the Canadian health-care system. We argue about it all the time. Get ready for Americans to do the same.
  2. burmafrd

    burmafrd Benched

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    Canada's system would never work in the US. Too many people. It only works as well as it does because of the small population. I live 30 miles from the border in NNY. I hear about it quite a lot. I don't really think it would improve things here much if any.
  3. Rocky

    Rocky New Member

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    Being directly involved in the health care industry for 14 years, I can affirm that there are no easy answers and no perfect system exists anywhere. Perhaps the biggest challenge is balancing ethical considerations against fiscal realities.

    It's not truly a question of socialized health care vs a pure free enterprise system because we already have a hybrid system in place here. (Medicaid and other locally subsidized health care plans.) Price controls imposed by payers exist as a means of controlling cost.

    The fundamental problem with true socialized health care is that costs can only effectively be controlled by restricting access to services (see waiting lists). Well that, and the fact that as always, you run out of other people's money eventually and other budgets must be appropriated-- such as defense.
  4. big dog cowboy

    big dog cowboy THE BIG DOG Staff Member

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    I've never seen a Michael Moore film and never will. I'd rather take my kid to the movie theater and spend my money on a Disney movie or other animated film.
  5. burmafrd

    burmafrd Benched

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    He is a big fat slob and a lying piece of crap. And thats on his good days.
  6. 03EBZ06

    03EBZ06 Need2Speed

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    Moore is joke, his documentaries are nothing more than his skewed view point to push his personal agendas.
  7. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt Hunka Hunka Burning BP Staff Member

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    I will watch them...when they come on tv. But I can't stand the guy.

    He is one of those types that even if I agreed in principal with what he might be trying to say I find him so two faced and exaggerating that I just can't put anything into his work.

    However I will say this much. I still like Canadian Bacon movie he did.
  8. AtlCB

    AtlCB Well-Known Member

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    Socialized medicine has been a disaster in Canada and Europe. If we go that route, I certainly hope our system will not be modelled after theirs. Two major things need to happen in this country to fix our health care problems:

    1. Tort reform - lawsuits against doctors and hospitals are out of control. A lot of the increase in your medical costs go to lawyers.

    2. Insurance industry reform - The federal government has to step in here to make this work. The job of a corporation is to make money for its stockholders. The insurance corporations will cut any corners possible to save money. The insurance industry is one of the few that I believe the government must regulate in order for the industry to meet its responsibilities.

    I don't have a huge problem with the pharmaceutical industry. A large percentage of the money you pay for drugs goes into research. The drug companies also have to spend money battling the insurance industry and lawyers.
  9. AtlCB

    AtlCB Well-Known Member

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    I find it ironic that Moore ridiculed the Canadian socialized medical system in Canadian Bacon and now promotes it in Sicko.
  10. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt Hunka Hunka Burning BP Staff Member

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    I don't even know why I am going to post about this topic. Really something I feel is nothing more than a political talking point that the left and right use to energize it's base into voting but in the end really don't feel they will ever actually see a universal health care plan implemented.

    With that said here are a few opinions of mine.

    As some other posters noted some people are basically already on government health care in a manner of speaking.

    You have those on Disability, social security and I guess you could lump welfare in some of it. They use medicare and medicaid (sp?)

    So there are people basically on it.

    You have those that have good enough jobs to have insurance or those that are rich enough that they would not need it anyways.

    The only people that need or want it are those that are not on SS, not on disability, not rich, do not have jobs with insurance and are not poor enough to qualify for some welfare type programs.

    It comes down to the middle class guy, not the upper but lower.

    So universal health care, which I think will never see the light of day, really would only be needed for a percentage of people and not all.


    As someone that has been in the Army I don't think people realize what they will get.

    In ways the military universal health care for it's soldiers. You pay nothing for the service in the military except that taxes taken out of your check. Which always amused me thinking of taking taxes out of my check in the army knowing that I was basically paying myself in some small part.

    The military medical service really was not very good, and this comes from a combat medic.

    If you are in the field and get hurt, sure you will get patched up and sent to the rear for further treatment. By service that is not what I am talking about.

    What I am talking about is the average person going for treatment.

    I had plantars fasciitis one time. A condition that basically feels like you stomped down hard barefoot on a stone. The underside of your foot hurts all the time and it is hard to do much while putting weight on it. Of course there are varying degrees of the discomfort.

    I went to the treatment facility three separate times with the condition. I rarely went for treatment so this should indicate that it was really bothering me.

    Each time they just gave me some motrin and said not to run, march any distance or exercise on it.

    Well it would be nice if that would have cured it but it did not.

    After the fourth time of going and me basically being very rude and telling to treat the problem instead of the symptom they gave me a shot up into the underside of my foot.

    Imagine this, only a day or two later and it was cured and I never had the problem again.

    I have known MANY other soldiers with similar stories.

    There used to be a joke that arm got cut off in an accident I better go to the troop medical clinic to get some motrin.

    Knew a guy that kept having back problems. They gave him motrin and a profile for PT and lifting any weight. Went on for just over a year.

    Desert Storm started, they brought in the Reserve Docs and the first visit the guy had with one he found that he needed an operation and looking over the past reports said he should have had it long ago.

    He gets the operation, recovers and all was well after that.

    Don't even get me started on how some Vets are treated in VA centers or other areas concerning medical care. Use the soldiers and after they have been used they are just not as important to the government.

    The point I am making is universal health care only winds up making longer lines, limited option of doctors you can visit, a faster process once you actually see the doctor, limited treatment and medication options, lower quality of care and in the end possibly not treating the problem at all.

    Now most would not want that after they figured it out.

    Problem is there are some that feel...something is better than nothing and for those small amount of people maybe they are right.

    Maybe we need the employers to actually step up and provide insurance. But that opens up another can of worms.

    I guess I have learned that I don't have the money to go to the doc so I just don't go.

    Those that know me know I have ear problems. I went to 2 doctors and 1 specialist over the situation. Each basically said is something I have to live with but when they really bother me I can come in and get this or that.

    I said screw paying around $100 each visit for them to tell me they know what is wrong and give me a prescription. Docs don't want to give you an RX unless you pay them a little for a visit even if they KNOW what is wrong and what they will do.

    Screw that...I don't have the money so I basically live with the problem. I know I have had multiple ear infections over the last few years. But just am not going to take money out of my own pocket to overpay to a doctor who really only needs to write me an RX. I don't feel the need to pay two people in order to get one pill/medicine to help a problem. I just don't have the money for it. So I just suffer through it.

    Now if universal health care ever happened, which it won't, I may not have to pay for those doctors to write out a prescription but chances are now I would wait 3-4 times longer to get it and I may not get the ones that actually help. I might just get motrin.

    One other aspect to think about. It would be a major clusterfudge trying to get the program working.

    The new prescription plan for medicare/caid they put out a few years ago was so out of whack it was not funny.

    The wife is on disability and we had hell trying to get it straightened out for her. Went through two different companies (they give you a list of companies you can use) and still have trouble with it but it is not as bad now.

    I can only imagine what some of the older people had to go through because it was so messed up.

    Now think about universal health care and the problems it would cause starting out.

    There are good intentions for universal health care. I mean honestly I doubt anyone deep down would not wish that everybody had healthcare. It is just all the problems that go with it that make it a situation that is not really viable for all.
  11. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Lost in the Woods Zone Supporter

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    I think there will be socialized medicine within our lifetime. Increasingly, corporations are supporting the idea because they want to transfer the costs of providing health care to the taxpayers, with the exception of the insurance and medical establishment, of course. And what Corporate America wants, corporate America usually gets, as we can see by the poll numbers of those presidential candidates who have raised the most money.
  12. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Lost in the Woods Zone Supporter

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    A disaster in what sense? Granted it's anecdotal, but I have spoken to many foreigners, and not one would trade their medical system for what we have in the United States. Sure, they may have problems, but our inhumane predatory system of health care is the laughing stock of the industrialized world. One need only look at basic health statistics like life expectancy, infant mortality, etc. to see that the wealthiest country in the world is a laggard in this area. it seems that more Americans have problems with the Canadian and European models than Europeans and Canadians themselves.
  13. AtlCB

    AtlCB Well-Known Member

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    I've lived overseas and my sister in law is from Canada. I've talked to her and her family. They usually have to wait unreasonable amounts of time for treatment. She had a brain tumor. She had to wait months for surgery. She then had to wait another six months until they put a plate in her head to replace the large piece of skull they took. She had to walk around six months with no protection in the area where the skull was removed! :eek: Any hit with any kind of force on that part of her head would have killed her.

    They knew people who had to wait months for a cat scan. MRI's typically take six months. There have also been cases in Canada where cancer patients have died while on the waiting list to receive treatment. Our system is bad, but it isn't that bad.
  14. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Lost in the Woods Zone Supporter

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    No system is full proof but, statistically, the debate isn't even close. The Canadian system may be an modest improvement but many European countries outperform our own on nearly all the important statistical measurements. Even Saudi Arabia is ranked higher.

    Per the World Health Organization which can be googled:

    The new rating system bases national scores on five measures, and in producing a ranking takes into account the financial resources it has available.
    The five measures used are: overall level of health or life expectancy; health fairness or life expectancy as measured across various populations within a country; responsiveness or how well people rated performance of their health care system; fairness in responsiveness among different groups in the same country; and fairness in financing among different groups, which looked at what proportion of income is devoted to health care.

    World Health Organization’s ranking of the world’s health systems.

    Source: WHO World Health Report -
    1 France
    2 Italy

    3 San Marino
    4 Andorra
    5 Malta

    6 Singapore
    7 Spain
    8 Oman
    9 Austria
    10 Japan
    11 Norway
    12 Portugal
    13 Monaco
    14 Greece
    15 Iceland
    16 Luxembourg
    17 Netherlands
    18 United Kingdom
    19 Ireland
    20 Switzerland
    21 Belgium

    22 Colombia
    23 Sweden
    24 Cyprus
    25 Germany
    26 Saudi Arabia
    27 United Arab Emirates
    28 Israel
    29 Morocco
    30 Canada
    31 Finland
    32 Australia
    33 Chile
    34 Denmark
    35 Dominica
    36 Costa Rica
    37 United States of America
    38 Slovenia
    39 Cuba
    40 Brunei
    41 New Zealand
    42 Bahrain
    43 Croatia
    44 Qatar
    45 Kuwait
    46 Barbados
    47 Thailand
    48 Czech Republic
    49 Malaysia
    50 Poland
    51 Dominican Republic
    52 Tunisia
    53 Jamaica
    54 Venezuela
    55 Albania
    56 Seychelles
    57 Paraguay
    58 South Korea
    59 Senegal
    60 Philippines
    61 Mexico
    62 Slovakia
    63 Egypt
    64 Kazakhstan
    65 Uruguay
    66 Hungary
    67 Trinidad and Tobago
    68 Saint Lucia
    69 Belize
    70 Turkey
    71 Nicaragua
    72 Belarus
    73 Lithuania
    74 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
    75 Argentina
    76 Sri Lanka
    77 Estonia
    78 Guatemala
    79 Ukraine
    80 Solomon Islands
    81 Algeria
    82 Palau
    83 Jordan
    84 Mauritius
    85 Grenada
    86 Antigua and Barbuda
    87 Libya
    88 Bangladesh
    89 Macedonia
    90 Bosnia-Herzegovina
    91 Lebanon
    92 Indonesia
    93 Iran
    94 Bahamas
    95 Panama
    96 Fiji
    97 Benin
    98 Nauru
    99 Romania
    100 Saint Kitts and Nevis
    101 Moldova
    102 Bulgaria
    103 Iraq
    104 Armenia
    105 Latvia
    106 Yugoslavia
    107 Cook Islands
    108 Syria
    109 Azerbaijan
    110 Suriname
    111 Ecuador
    112 India
    113 Cape Verde
    114 Georgia
    115 El Salvador
    116 Tonga
    117 Uzbekistan
    118 Comoros
    119 Samoa
    120 Yemen
    121 Niue
    122 Pakistan
    123 Micronesia
    124 Bhutan
    125 Brazil
    126 Bolivia
    127 Vanuatu
    128 Guyana
    129 Peru
    130 Russia
    131 Honduras
    132 Burkina Faso
    133 Sao Tome and Principe
    134 Sudan
    135 Ghana
    136 Tuvalu
    137 Ivory Coast
    138 Haiti
    139 Gabon
    140 Kenya
    141 Marshall Islands
    142 Kiribati
    143 Burundi
    144 China
    145 Mongolia
    146 Gambia
    147 Maldives
    148 Papua New Guinea
    149 Uganda
    150 Nepal
    151 Kyrgystan
    152 Togo
    153 Turkmenistan
    154 Tajikistan
    155 Zimbabwe
    156 Tanzania
    157 Djibouti
    158 Eritrea
    159 Madagascar
    160 Vietnam
    161 Guinea
    162 Mauritania
    163 Mali
    164 Cameroon
    165 Laos
    166 Congo
    167 North Korea
    168 Namibia
    169 Botswana
    170 Niger
    171 Equatorial Guinea
    172 Rwanda
    173 Afghanistan
    174 Cambodia
    175 South Africa
    176 Guinea-Bissau
    177 Swaziland
    178 Chad
    179 Somalia
    180 Ethiopia
    181 Angola
    182 Zambia
    183 Lesotho
    184 Mozambique
    185 Malawi
    186 Liberia
    187 Nigeria
    188 Democratic Republic of the Congo
    189 Central African Republic
    190 Myanmar
  15. AtlCB

    AtlCB Well-Known Member

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  16. AtlCB

    AtlCB Well-Known Member

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    The rankings puts a lot of stock in life expectance. Life expectancy is low in this country, because we don't take care of ourselves. Take a look at the link between life expectancy and obesity. The United States has much higher obesity rates than any country in Europe. We eat too much high-fat, high sugar foods and lead sedentary lifestyles.
  17. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Lost in the Woods Zone Supporter

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    Are these links supposed to convince me that socialized medicine is ineffective because Canada experiences some problems? What about all the other countries that have government provided health care that are ranked well above our own, despite spending less per capita, with outcomes that far exceed ours?

    A more convincing defense of your position against socialized care would marshal evidence that you get less for your money, i.e. despite spending more than the U.S. Canadians die younger, have higher infant mortality rates, etc. There were no statistics indicating that Canadians are worse off healthwise than their US counterparts. Alas, Canada's infant mortality rate is 4.6 to our 6.4 and their life expectancy is 80.3 to our 78. (Source: US census bureau 2007 courtesy InfoPlease)
  18. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Lost in the Woods Zone Supporter

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    Here's a list ranking countries according to per capita spending on health care. Compare this to the WHO rankings to gauge efficiency

    So Canada spends nearly half as much as the US but has a lower infant morality rate and higher longevity, two key indicators of the effectiveness of a country's health care system. The French seem to be getting quite a lot for their money also despite being a socialized system.

    #1 United States: $4,631.00 per capita
    #2 Switzerland: $3,222.00 per capita
    #3 Germany: $2,748.00 per capita
    #4 Iceland: $2,608.00 per capita
    #5 Canada: $2,535.00 per capita
    #6 Denmark: $2,420.00 per capita
    #7 France: $2,349.00 per capita
    #8 Belgium: $2,268.00 per capita
    #9 Norway: $2,268.00 per capita
    #10 Netherlands: $2,246.00 per capita
    #11 Australia: $2,211.00 per capita
    #12 Austria: $2,162.00 per capita
    #13 Italy: $2,032.00 per capita
    #14 Japan: $2,011.00 per capita
    #15 Ireland: $1,953.00 per capita
    #16 United Kingdom: $1,764.00 per capita
    #17 Finland: $1,664.00 per capita
    #18 New Zealand: $1,623.00 per capita
    #19 Spain: $1,556.00 per capita
    #20 Portugal: $1,439.00 per capita
    #21 Greece: $1,399.00 per capita
    #22 Czech Republic: $1,031.00 per capita
    #23 Hungary: $842.00 per capita
    #24 Slovakia: $690.00 per capita
    #25 Mexico: $491.00 per capita
  19. trickblue

    trickblue Not Old School...Old Testament...

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    What is the criteria for "Health Care"...
  20. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Lost in the Woods Zone Supporter

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    Obesity sounds like another public health issue that is not being adequately addressed. :)

    As for putting too much stock in life expectancy, isn't that standard practice when comparing national health levels?

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