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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Health Care Reform and Tuesday

Arthur, blogging at the Richard Howe blog site pleads that a key reason to vote for Attorney General Martha Coakley to fill Paul Kirk's seat in the US Senate is health care.

I would argue that health care is a good reason to NOT vote for Martha Coakley.

I agree that we have a health care problem in these United States.  However, the current bill in Congress is not the solution and may delay a solution for decades.  The current bill is a combination Health Insurance bill and pork barrel vehicle.

Yes, there are people not getting the health care they need.  A lot of those people are in places where there are few health care providers, either due to the thinness of people on the ground or the fact that the socio-economic conditions do not support the kind of health care doctors wish to practice.

One of the reasons our life expectancy lags that of Europe is that our infant mortality is so high.  If you Aunt Sally dies at 70, it brings down the average a little.  If you cousin Rickie dies at six months it has a much greater impact.

Providing health insurance for all, but not providing the medical practitioners will not fix the problem.  Why are we not hearing about plans to expand the production of physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners?  When either my wife or I go to our clinic of choice we normally see someone who was not born in these United States.  Why is that?  Did the Federal Government reach out and slow the production of medical practitioners a couple of decades ago?

We need health care reform, but the current efforts going on behind closed doors in the US Congress are only standing in the way.  Sending Attorney General Martha Coakley to replace the TSW will not fix that problem.  It might, however, change how the pork is dolled out at the end of the day.  But health care reform?  Not a chance.  And we need health care reform—real reform.

Regards  —&nbps; Cliff

  This could be a ghetto in some decaying industrial city or it could be Lowell, where, my Primary Care Physician tells me, the ratio of doctors to population is not as high as it should be.


The New Englander said...

In regards to paragraph #2, some of the campaign advertising seems to assume people don't think this way.

I spent most of Saturday in the car. No surprise, there were a metric butt-ton of political Coakley ad that KEPT playing again and again just had the Scott Brown "41st Senator" sound byte and an exhortation that people who support President Obama's health care plan should be sure not to vote for Brown.

Whatever PR firm came up with that one should be counseled. I know I'm not *capturing* the ad in this comment, but I think it assumes way too much about the listener's views, and is likely to influence as many people to do the opposite of its intended purpose..

Oh, and I'm going to be lazy and wrap this thought about JLOTS into the same comment -- have you noticed how Navy recruiting propaganda is now geared so heavily towards humanitarian relief? It makes sense and it's a great way to promote the nation's interest -- look at how much lasting goodwill we've earned in Indonesia..

Craig H said...

Cliff, you hit the nail on the head when you ask where the providers of care are going to come from for the underserved.

What is being debated in Congress is a means to subsidize health insurers, NOT provide healthcare. (Even the D's admit their broadest plan does not cover nearly everybody).

We need to get a grip. Universal healthcare, like providing telephone service back in the day, is an issue of getting doctors to places where they're needed, and ensuring that EVERYONE can afford them. This does NOT mean subsidizing big pharma to provide lipitor prescriptions to rich white folks who don't like to exercise.

When we can insure that 100% of our citizens who need even simple things like eyeglasses can have them, THEN I'll vote for the plan that does it.

Until then, I'll vote for whomever I please.

JoeS said...

"Why are we not hearing about plans to expand the production of physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners?"

I don't have all the specifics handy, but I believe that the Lowell Community Health center has received two grants totaling about $10M to do just that.

On a related note, a planning document to be released to a sub-committee of the city council in the next few weeks contains a request by residents to facilitate a pedestrian link between the Acre and that health center. The Jackson street extension proposed for the Hamilton Canal District can do just that.

As bad as Congress may have made it, the health care bill apparently will raise the 10-year cost of health care by about $1T. That is a big number, but the constant year annual cost of $2.5T makes a $25T bill without any change, so a 4% increase in cost spread out over a 15% increase in people covered reduces the per person cost significantly.

Facilities like the Lowell Community Health Center will play a key role in getting these costs under control.