Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Dave Camp on universal health care: Woof-woof

It looks like the 72 percent of Americans who want universal health coverage - and the 63 percent who support universal health coverage even if it requires tax increases - will be ignored again (just like they were about Iraq) if Michigan Congressman Dave Camp (R) is any indication.

According to a link at
MI Liberal, Camp believes the solutions to our health care problems lie in the private sector and not in more government programs. From The Hill:
I firmly believe we can and should solve America’s healthcare crisis in an American way. History is a great teacher, and if we choose to go down the path that Western Europe or Canada has, it will be no surprise when we come to the same destination — a universal healthcare system that leaves your family dog with better coverage and care than you get. As the Canadian Supreme Court once opined, “access to a waiting list is not access to care.” [emphasis added]
Really? Then how does Camp explain this recent study:
Health outcomes for patients in Canada are as good as or better than in the United States, even though per capita spending is higher south of the border, suggest Canadian and U.S. researchers who crunched data from 38 studies. [...] [emphasis added]

"In looking at patients in Canada with a specific diagnosis compared to Americans with the same diagnosis, in Canada patients had at least as good an outcome as their American counterparts – and in many situations, a better health outcome," said one of the 17 authors, Dr. P.J. Devereaux, a cardiologist and clinical epidemiologist at McMaster University in Hamilton.

"And that is important because in the United States, they're currently spending a little over $7,100 per individual on health care annually, whereas in Canada we're spending a little over $2,900 per individual annually," he said in a telephone interview from Brantford, Ont.[...]

Researchers began by asking the question: Are there differences in health outcomes (mortality or morbidity) in patients suffering from similar medical conditions treated in Canada versus those treated in the United States?

"Overall, Canada did better, and in fact we found a statistically significant five per cent mortality advantage to people with diagnoses in Canada compared to their counterparts in the United States," Devereaux said.
Or how about these statistics from the Fort Wayne News Sentinel?
France, Germany, Japan and Switzerland have less centralized systems, which provide much better results. They combine universal coverage with easy access to medical care. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, none of these countries have waiting-list problems. Access to medical care tends to be easier in those countries than it is in the United States. [...] [emphasis added]

It is inaccurate to assume that we have the best high-tech care. Japan, which has universal care, has more CT scanners and MRIs per person than the United States. Germany and Switzerland are on a par with us. [...]

Victor Rodwin of New York University finds that on a per-capita basis, the French get more physician office visits and more drugs than their counterparts here.
Heck, even Cuba (gasp!) delivers good health care according to AlterNet:
They [Cubans] live longer than almost anyone in Latin America. Far fewer babies die. Almost everyone has been vaccinated, and such scourges of the poor as parasites, TB, malaria, even HIV/AIDS are rare or non-existent. Anyone can see a doctor, at low cost, right in the neighborhood.

The Cuban health care system is producing a population that is as healthy as those of the world's wealthiest countries at a fraction of the cost. And now Cuba has begun exporting its system to under-served communities around the world -- including the United States. [...]

Many elements of the health care system Cuba is exporting around the world are common-sense practices. Everyone has access to doctors, nurses, specialists, and medications. There is a doctor and nurse team in every neighborhood... If someone doesn't like their neighborhood doctor, they can choose another one.

House calls are routine, in part because it's the responsibility of the doctor and nurse team to understand you and your health issues in the context of your family, home, and neighborhood. This is key to the system. By catching diseases and health hazards before they get big, the Cuban medical system can spend a little on prevention rather than a lot later on to cure diseases, stop outbreaks, or cope with long-term disabilities. [...]

For health issues beyond the capacity of the neighborhood doctor, polyclinics provide specialists, outpatient operations, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and labs. Those who need inpatient treatment can go to hospitals; at the end of their stay, their neighborhood medical team helps make the transition home.[...]
I don't know how dogs fare in Cuba, but the article did say Castro provided scholarships to 90 poor Americans with the understanding that they have to agree to go back and serve their poor communities after graduation. Why the big investment in health?
Even more revolutionary than the right to health care for all is the idea that an investment in health -- or in clean water, adequate food or housing -- could be more powerful, more effective at building security than bombers and aircraft carriers.
That concept is lost on lawmakers like Camp who continue to support the war and their corporate buddies. Building bombs and aircraft carriers is a lucrative business for private contractors in Washington. According to Jim Hightower, government contracting has grown 86% under Bush's Republican administration and now totals nearly $400 BILLION dollars a year. It's no wonder Camp believes the private sector should play a role in health care reform (and get a piece of the pie):
"Too much government-provided healthcare limits private sector opportunities. We should be expanding access in the private sector, not crowding it out."
Never mind the fact that the public gets screwed (think donut holes, Katrina, Walter Reed): Medicare Is Defrauding Seniors
In 2005 alone, taxpayers lost $2.7 billion in overpayments [while i]nsurance companies that sell Medicare Advantage plans are substantially overpaid to market their plans...
And never mind the fact that corporate America is leaning in the same direction as most Americans:
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., AT&T Inc., Intel Corp. and Kelly Services Inc. joined forces with two labor unions in calling for an overhaul of the U.S. health-care system that would guarantee universal coverage by 2012.
I suspect Wal-Mart understands the economics behind universal health care because their business approach is similar. By pooling all Americans (vendors) together in the same pool, the government (Wal-Mart) can use its massive market share to bargain down prices and advocate for their interests.

On the other hand, I suspect Congressman Camp only advocates for the interests of the insurance industries and lobbyists who stand to benefit from expanding private health care.


abi said...

Great post, Kathy. Nothing better shows how money trumps majority opinion and the best interests of the public than the way our health care system is run.

It seems inevitable that we're going to have a major overhaul of the way health insurance is provided in this country. But our system being what it is - so thoroughly corrupted by money - I'm afraid we're going to take health care "reform" in the wrong direction - that is, keeping it for-profit, and requiring people to buy insurance, as we're now doing in Massachusetts.

Praguetwin said...

I agree: this is a great post.

The main opposition to universal care will of course be the private sector. Cutting costs will mean cutting profits for many, and they are not going down without a fight.

Kathy said...

Thanks, Abi and Praguetwin. The Dingell/Kennedy "Medicare For All" plan does give people a choice to choose between a Medicare type plan and that offered by their employer. I'm not sure, but I imagine it will still allow people to buy a supplement plan similar to the ones seniors now buy to supplement their Medicare (which keeps the private sector in the picture).

The gov't plan is still the best in my opinion. It will provide ALL people with a basic level of care like people currently get from Medicare. Will it provide the frills (fancy electric scoots, knee replacements for sedentary elderly people, etc.)? Probably not, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Medicine needs to use a little common sense about some of the treatments and procedures they provide.

Anyway, I forgot to mention something about Congressman Camp. The Dingell/Kennedy plan he objects to gives people the ability to choose between Medicare and the federal health insurance plan all federal employees currently enjoy - including him. What a double-standard. It's good enough for him to have but not the rest of us?

Cost can't be his objection either. ABC News said employers currently contribute about 13% of their payroll to health insurance, but under this plan that contribution would fall to 7% - almost half. I seriously doubt the private sector could match that figure and provide the same level of care without cherry picking the healthiest population like some insurers do now.

abi said...

Guys like Camp really do believe us riffraff don't deserve what he gets.

I've also heard those stats about employers' contributions under a single-payer system. Single payer is in the public's interest, and it's in the interest of most employers. But like praguetwin said, ain't no way the health care industry is going to give up the goose with the golden eggs.

Max said...

I just made a video about Dave Camp:

If you live in the 4th district, please keep contacting Mr. Camp about universal health care. Maybe he can be persuaded if there is overwhelming pressure and if he doesnt then we need to vote for someone else!!!