Introduction: Friday, February 24, 2017–Back in 2005, when I cared about the health scare/snare racket from a practitioner’s point of view, I began research for a book. The Medicare Myth proposed a national health care system that would by-pass insurance and pharmaceutical companies to provide access directly to all comers.
Now I care from a patient’s point of view. My original idea has grown and thrived under Obamacare. In 2017, as Congressional Republicans move to re-configure Obamacare, the nation grits its teeth and bites its fingernails, contributing to stress and bad outcomes. It doesn’t have to be this hard.
Obamacare is the talk of every town these days. I refuse to call this the “Affordable Care Act,” because it is the opposite. It steals from the poor to pay the rich–the pharmaceutical industry, the insurance industry, and the government–using criminally abusive scare tactics against a naïve and gullible public.
Sadly, the Republicans are hard-pressed to come up with a workable alternative. Up to the plate I come, to offer a point of view others may appreciate. Here we have an opportunity to guide the government toward win-win solutions, and no party can claim credit.
Where better to seek solutions than from the “private sector,” of which I consider myself a member? I also have insider knowledge of how the system works, having been the daughter of a public health doctor as well as a psychiatrist myself, working in the public mental health system, including five VA facilities, in my time.
Consider this: We already have public sector infrastructure for a comprehensive public health network. For outpatient services, community public health departments already provide STD screenings, TB skin tests, birth and death certificates, and other services that benefit the community as a whole. Accessibility is a huge advantage, otherwise not easily available except through emergency departments. Another advantage is that direct patient care saves paperwork, time, and insurance costs. It reduces overhead and restores quality to health care.
The Veteran’s Administration Hospital and outpatient system is already in place for vets, and I’ve enjoyed my time working at VAs. However, I believe the families suffer as much as or more than the vets, as they are primary caretakers. Why aren’t families covered in the VA system? And, while we’re at it, why aren’t we all covered? We all pay for war, one way or the other.
The slave-owner mentality of our mandated Western medical care paradigm is laughable. While detractors want to blame Barack Obama for this travesty, let’s all remember that GW Bush-appointed John G. Roberts, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, cast the deciding vote on Obamacare, declaring the mandate a “tax.” So, this is bipartisan stupidity at work.
For one thing, I think it’s healthier to get an acupuncture treatment or massage, go dancing or bowling, than sit in doctor’s offices. Yet, insurance steals money from truly healthy activities to feed the asset plunderers in Washington and money churners on Wall Street.
THE MEDICARE MYTH
Health Care Insurance, Not Health Care
by Katharine C. Otto, MD
Medicare was never intended to provide medical care. It is a government-controlled insurance subsidy. It guarantees income to insurance companies whether patients are served or not. This allows for sweetheart deals between government and insurance companies. Insurance companies profit by delaying and denying treatment.
With the new prescription drug benefit, the stage is set for sweetheart deals between government, insurance, and pharmaceutical companies. Under these arrangements the aggressively intrusive middlemen profit by collecting payment before treatment and doing everything they can to keep the money.
He who holds the money calls the shots.
Government feeds off taxpayer productivity, exacting payment in advance for services it no longer has incentive to provide. Are taxpayers getting value for their money?
The government/insurance scam exploits taxpayers under the guise of helping them. This results in the de facto inaccessibility of timely diagnosis and treatment.
This proposal recommends scrapping the entire Medicare system in favor of public health departments and public hospitals under the Veteran’s Administration Hospital model. The difference between this and socialized medicine is that it should be easily accessible to all, but voluntary. Taxpayers are already subsidizing huge investments in Medicare and Medicaid insurance. Why not spend those same dollars on diagnosis and treatment in a timely and direct manner?
As a citizen and taxpayer, I believe I have an obligation to help care for the community, and I’m happy to support public health, public works, public education, including public libraries, the public mail system, and public transportation. These are legitimate government functions that provide the nuts and bolts of a smoothly functioning civilization.
America is ripe for the growth of the self-employed, the independent contractor, the small business owner, and those who provide basic, local services that no one can outsource. The independent contractor could afford health care if he didn’t have to subsidize an insurance-controlled system that shifts costs to those who can least afford them. A restructured public health system could provide basic accessibility to all and more efficient use of our tax dollars.
- Public health departments deliver preventive medicine and health maintenance education to local communities. General responsibilities include screening for communicable diseases, providing school outreach, insuring sanitary conditions in public works, public facilities, restaurants, and other places where public health safety may be threatened. Health departments also provide childhood immunizations, as well as other inoculations.
- Veterans Administration hospitals already provide direct care to vets. The structure is in place. VA hospitals are training grounds and essentially supervised apprenticeship programs for students in all health care professions.
- Peer review and supervision are built into the system. Multiple layers of care provide a clear chain of command and accountability.
- Reduction of bureaucracy and paperwork. Bureaucrats can be re-trained to serve practical services, like lifting, turning, bathing, and transporting patients.
- These services could be made available to all but forced on no one. If it’s a good system, everyone wins. Those who must go beyond what the public systems provide will have easier access to more specialized health care services.
- Taxpaying citizens deserve better care for the money we spend. Super-inflated costs indicate the health snare system is hopelessly caught in its own trap. As it increasingly cuts services to swell profits, it becomes even less accessible, more costly, and ultimately less relevant to those who support it.
The books pictured above:
- Medicare’s Midlife Crisis, Sue A. Blevins, Cato Institute publishers. 2001.
- Bellevue Literary Review. BLReview.org. A literary magazine affiliated with the NYU Langone Medical Center, NYC. Specializes in medical topics, memoirs, stories, etc.
- Two Days That Ruined Your Health Care (And How You Can Provide the Cure), William C. Waters III, MD, MACP, No pub date or copyright.
- Rats, Lice, and History: The Biography of a Bacillus. Hans Zinsser, 1934. A charming story about how the microbes win every war, written before the widespread use of penicillin. This book is a particular favorite of mine by the original author of medical microbiology texts still used today.
- Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine. “How the pharmaceutical companies are corrupting science, misleading doctors, and threatening your health.” John Abramson, MD, 2004. This Harvard MD begins opening the can of worms about the sleazy pharmaceutical industry that thrives on patents.
- The Truth About the Drug Companies: How they Deceive Us and What To Do About It, Marcia Angell, MD, 2004, 2005. This former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine gives another perspective on the pill-pushing mentality of the health snare racket.
- (Not pictured) Patient Power: A Free-Enterprise Alternative to Clinton’s Health Plan. John cv. Goodman and Gerald L. Musgrave, The Cato Institute, publishers, 1994. Remember in the 1990s, when Hillarycare was soundly rejected by the public? Then First Lady Hillary Clinton implemented its main features through bureaucracy. The updated and re-configured version eventually morphed into Obamacare.
“A restructured public health system could provide basic accessibility to all and more efficient use of our tax dollars.”
~ That would not be in the interest of the profiteers in the health insurance and drug industries.
My point exactly. The US has the highest drug prices in the world. Why?