left biblioblography: The Politics Of Framing And How It Costs Lives…

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Politics Of Framing And How It Costs Lives…

Cross posted @ God Is 4 Suckers!tomtomorrowmedicine

It’s no secret that I’m a capitalist, despite accusations of Neo-Marxism, and all that crap: I’ve talked to real communists before in China, and they tend to agree that a meritocracy needs to be in place, otherwise an even sharing of the wealth would result in an uneven distribution, as some people work harder than others. Or, to quote myself:

“Communism would be a great idea, if people knew how to share.”

I’ve heard a great many folks (some of them are atheists) who despise and carry on about ‘socialized medicine’. The nutshell version is that they don’t want to pay extra out of their wallet to benefit some lazy asshole who can’t pay their bills.

There’s just so much that’s wrong with that on so many levels, I have a hard time choosing where to start ranting and raving exactly.

First, some operational definitions prior to sallying forth:

Socialism refers to any one of various theories of economic organization advocating public or collective ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and a society characterized by equal opportunities/means for all individuals with a more egalitarian method of compensation. Modern socialism originated in the late 18th-century intellectual and working class political movement that criticized the effects of industrialization and private ownership on society. Karl Marx posited that socialism would be achieved via class struggle and a proletarian revolution and become the transitional stage from capitalism to communism.

Of course, idiots like Rush Bimbo are foursquare against it, and the term ‘socialist’ has replaced ‘liberal’ in the latest polarization (non) issues. Because of course, socialized medicine isn’t quite the boogeyman the ReichWingNuts claim that it is:

Socialized medicine is a term used primarily in the United States to refer to certain kinds of publicly-funded health care. The term is used most frequently, and often pejoratively, in the U.S. political debate concerning health care.

Jonathan Oberlander, a professor of health policy at the University of North Carolina, maintains that the term does not mean anything at all. Exact definitions vary, but the term can refer to any system of medical care that is publicly financed, government administered, or both.

The original meaning was confined to systems in which the government operates health care facilities and employs health care professionals.This narrower usage would apply to the British National Health Service hospital trusts and health systems that operate in other countries as diverse as Finland, Spain, Israel, and Cuba. The United States' Veterans Health Administration, and the medical departments of the US Army, Navy, and Air Force would also fall under this narrow definition. When used in this way, the narrow definition permits a clear distinction from single payer health insurance systems, in which the government finances health care but is not involved in care delivery.

More recently, a few have used the term more broadly to any publicly funded system. Canada's Medicare system, most of the UK's NHS general practitioner and dental services, which are all systems where health care is delivered by private business with partial or total government funding, fit this broader definition, as do the health care systems of most of Western Europe. In the United States, Medicare, Medicaid, and the US military's TRICARE fall under this definition.

Most industrialized countries, and many developing countries, operate some form of publicly-funded health care with universal coverage as the goal. According to the Institute of Medicine and others, the United States is the only wealthy, industrialized nation that does not provide universal health care.

The term is often used in the U.S to create an understanding that the health care system would be run by the government, thereby associating it with socialism, which has negative connotations in American political culture. As such its usage is controversial.

Tom Tomorrow’s comic actually provides a succinct view of the Right Wingers’ weirdo viewpoints.

Of course, we all use some form of socialism in our daily lives. Everyone has the right to walk down a sidewalk – because all of our taxes paid for it, no? We certainly don’t eject homeless people from the sidewalk (unless of course, they’re breaking some kind of law/social contract) – and the chances are good that the hypothetical homeless is likely not paying taxes. And – wait a minute, is that a library card in your wallet? So my taxes are paying for your ability to borrow a free book, as well as mine?

And who are the lackwits who oppose and/or opposed it?

When the term "socialized medicine" first appeared in the United States in the early 1900s, it bore no negative connotations. Otto P. Geier, chairman of the Preventive Medicine Section of the American Medical Association (AMA), was quoted in The New York Times in 1917, praising socialized medicine as a way to "discover disease in its incipiency," help end "venereal diseases, alcoholism, tuberculosis," and "make a fundamental contribution to social welfare." However, by the 1930s, the term socialized medicine was routinely used negatively by conservative opponents of publicly-funded health care. Universal health care and national health insurance were first proposed by U.S President Theodore Roosevelt. President Franklin D. Roosevelt later championed it, as did Harry S. Truman as part of his Fair Deal and many others.

However, at around this time it was ardently opposed by the AMA which distributed posters to doctors with slogans such as "Socialized medicine ... will undermine the democratic form of government." Ronald Reagan once recorded a disc exhorting its audience to abhor the "dangers" which socialized medicine could bring. Other pressure groups began to extend the definition from state managed health care to any form of state finance in health care. In more recent times the term came up again in 2008 U.S presidential election by the Republicans and in particular in a July 2007 campaign speech, when Rudy Giuliani made a direct connection between socialized medicine and socialism. Giuliani claimed that he had a better chance of surviving prostate cancer in the U.S than he would have had in England. The tactic backfired as according to cancer experts cited in fact check articles by the Annenberg Public Policy Center's FactCheck.org, the St. Petersburg Times and its PolitiFact.com, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Times and others criticized Giuliani's use of statistics as "false" and very "misleading" for drawing conclusions that were complete "nonsense".

Health care professionals have tended to avoid the term because of its pejorative nature, but if they do use it they do not include publicly funded private medical schemes such as Medicaid. Opponents of state involvement in health care tend to use the looser definition.

The term is widely used by the American media and pressure groups. Some have even stretched use of the term to cover any regulation of health care, whether publicly financed or not.The term is often used to criticize publicly provided health care outside the US, but rarely to describe similar health care programs in the US, such as the Veterans Administration clinics and hospitals, military health care nor the single payer programs such as Medicaid and Medicare. The term is almost always used to evoke negative sentiment toward health care reform that would involve increasing government involvement in the U.S health care system.

Medical staff, academics and most professionals in the field and international bodies such as the WHO tend to avoid use of the term. Outside the US, the terms most commonly used are universal health care or public health care.[citation needed] According to health economist Uwe Reinhardt, "strictly speaking, the term 'socialized medicine' should be reserved for health systems in which the government operates the production of health care and provides its financing".Still others say the term has no meaning at all.

I for one would be happy to pay more taxes for this. Because while the thought of the government bureaucracy and the red tape resultant is daunting, the fact of the matter is, people’s lives are dramatically affected by medical costs. It is true that we have the best and most exhaustive medical care, those costs can prove to be ruinous if a citizen is horribly hurt, or becomes terribly ill.

On a personal note, I find it ridiculous that proper medical treatment should be based on pay scale: it is a travesty to those of us who care about our fellow man (or woman); it is a horrendous mindset to say that certain specific rights should be based on the pocket book; and it is indicative of a deep disconnect that people afflicted with poverty should watch their children die, while the rich need not worry about such things.

Because whether we call it ‘socialized medicine’ or ‘universal healthcare’, a nation is only as strong as its healthiest members. And trust me, brothers and sisters, a weak body assails the brain, weakening that in return, and those that survive the trial may not prove hail of heart or of mind. Small wonder the poor run to religion: the doors of education are closed, and likewise the doors of proper health maintenance.

Till the next post then.

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1 comment:

Modusoperandi said...

"On a personal note, I find it ridiculous that proper medical treatment should be based on pay scale: it is a travesty to those of us who care about our fellow man (or woman)..."
Ah, there's your problem.
As Jesus said in the Sermon on the Offramp, "Screw the poor, for they shall have riches in heaven."