Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Health care reform still important to majority of Americans

A majority of Americans continue to say they would pay higher taxes if it meant health insurance for everyone, and health care is second only to the economy as a major domestic concern, so it makes perfect sense that a conservative group is launching a $1 million ad buy designed to scare people about a government-run health care system. If Americans want it, are willing to pay for it, and badly need it (45 million uninsured and rising at this point), rich conservatives will fight to prevent us from having it.

In this case, the group is Conservatives for Patients' Rights, headed by Richard Scott. The organization plans to spend at least $20 million on the effort and Scott is willing to throw in at least $5 million of his own money.

Who Is Richard Scott— and Why Is He Saying These Things about Health Care Reform? Scott is the former CEO of Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., a for-profit hospital chain that was the offspring of a merger between Columbia Healthcare and Hospital Corporation of America. His goal wasn't to improve health care and make it more accessible to people. As a hospital executive, "Scott limited “choice” and “competition” by buying up “hospitals by the bucketful” and routinely placed profits ahead of “accountability” or quality of care. During Scott’s tenure at Columbia/HCA, his cost cutting methods threatened patient care and safety."

His methods also got him in trouble with the law.
In Scott’s case, that happened a short three years after he became CEO of Columbia/HCA. In July of 1997, the FBI swooped down on HCA hospitals in five states. Within weeks, three executives were indicted on charges of Medicare fraud, and the board had ousted Scott.

The investigation revealed that the hospital chain had been bilking Medicare while simultaneously handing over kickbacks and perks to physicians who steered patients to its hospitals. One can only wonder how many of those patients really needed to be hospitalized—and how many were harmed.

The company did not fight the charges. In 2000, HCA (which by then had expunged “Columbia” from its name) pleaded guilty to no fewer than 14 felonies. Over the next two years, it would pay a total of $1.7 billion in criminal and civil fines.
Did I mention hospital bonuses?
Internal hospital records would later show that hospital executives were paid enormous bonuses, not for reducing infections or lowering mortality rates, but for meeting financial targets such as “growth in admissions and surgery cases.” In 1995 one-fourth of Columbia’s administrators won bonuses equaling 80 percent of their salaries—or more. When bonuses become that large, some critics charge, they no longer function simply as incentives. They invite fraud. Scott also did his best to avoid needy patients, questioning whether hospitals should throw their doors open to one and all. “Do we have an obligation to provide health care for everybody? Where do we draw the line? Is any fast-food restaurant obliged to feed everyone who shows up?
GoozNews has the best take on Scott and CPR:
His group shouldn't be called Conservatives for Patients Rights. It should be called Hospital Moguls for Bilking and Bankrupting America.
By the way, guess who Scott and Conservatives for Patients’ Rights hired as their public relations firm. CRC. The same group known for their work with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. That pretty much tells you how they plan to run their attack campaign against health care reform. Lies. Baseless attacks. Fear. Socialism. Blah, blah, blah...

You can read more about the ongoing fight to provide public health care to all Americans here, but when you hear these ads from CPR and Rick Scott remember one thing, they have health insurance. They're not worried about you. They're only worried about protecting corporate profits.


K. said...

Conservatives for Patient Rights? That's as laughable as the sudden concern for worker's rights manifested by opposing EFCA. At least the word "conservative" is fast becoming as radioactive as the word "Republican."

BMO AIG Canada said...

That's just wrong, scaring people like that with stupid ideas is just plain wrong. A government-run health care system is definitely the way to go here, the amount of people with no insurance is huge and for a country with the best doctors in the world and the best equipment possible, that's just embarrassing. I really do hope that Americans will some day be able to go to a doctor not afraid to pay thousands of dollars for it with their own money.

Take care, Lorne

Kathy said...

K, it is amazing how quickly conservatives have fallen from grace. I guess people got wise to them.

"You can fool some of the people..." ;-)

Lorne, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I agree, it is embarrassing to spend so much money on health care and still have so many people uninsured. Hopefully, we'll soon catch up with the rest of the civilized world and figure out how to insure all Americans.

abi said...

I was wondering when we'd start seeing anti-heathcare-reform ads like that. I think they will fool some people, but I think reform supporters have been much more effective about getting the truth out there this time around, as the poll you cite suggests.

Kathy said...

Abi, I also think the situation has deteriorated to such a point that Americans aren't buying their scare tactics. People want the gov't to provide the kind of health care they see millions of Americans already getting from Medicare, the military, federal gov't, etc...