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Weekend Reader: The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills

Memo Pad Weekend Reader

Weekend Reader: The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills


This weekend, The Weekend Reader brings you The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills by David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu. The Body Economic explains how the Republican approach to economics has and will continue to hit Americans’ wallets and cost lives. Stuckler and Basu analyze austerity and its effects on the health care system, and include moving personal stories of average people who have been affected by these harmful policies.

You can purchase the book here.

Diane was forty-seven years old when a splinter ruined her life.

She had been a teacher at a charter school in California. Because of $8.1 billion in education budget cuts the state enacted in 2009, she lost her job. Without her job, Diane lost her health insurance, so she had to purchase an individual coverage plan and pay the monthly premiums out of pocket. Diane signed up to the best plan she could afford, but that came with a high deductible: typically she would have to pay $5,000 before her insurance company covered any significant medical bills, making her think twice about whether she really had the money to seek medical help.

One afternoon, about a year after she lost her job and signed up for this high-deductible health insurance plan, Diane was walking on the floorboards of her old apartment and got a large splinter in her foot. Because Diane has diabetes, her minor wound became a large gash, then an ulcer that wouldn’t heal.

Diane felt that she couldn’t afford to pay the fee for a doctor’s office visit, nor for prescription antibiotics. So she tried to treat her leg herself—hoping that the redness creeping up her leg would go away if she strictly followed instructions she had found online: hot baths, soap, scrubbing, and over-the-counter antibiotic creams.

After a few weeks, Diana started to feel feverish and sweaty. Then she passed out. Luckily, a neighbor heard the shatter of glass when Diane’s head broke the coffee table. The neighbor called 911, and the police broke down Diane’s door and called an ambulance.

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That’s when Sanjay met Diane—in the intensive care unit of the local hospital. Her leg was so badly infected it had to be amputated—something that could have been avoided if the infection had been treated earlier. Worse still, the infection had spread to her bloodstream. It was so overwhelming that it was causing her to become septic—causing her blood pressure to drop below 80 over 40. To stop it from dipping any lower and leading to a potentially fatal cardiac arrest, Sanjay inserted a catheter through her jugular vein and into the right side of her heart, so he could pump intravenous fluids into her system and give her medicines that increase her blood pressure. Her kidneys were failing because of the infection, so a dialysis port had to be sewn into her groin. But the dialysis machine created its own problems. Diane suffered a stroke when the dialysis caused a second precipitous drop in her blood pressure.

Diane now lives in a nursing home. At the age of forty-seven, she is unable to speak or walk or move the right side of her body. Like hundreds of uninsured or underinsured patients, she delayed medical care because of fear of the cost. But ironically, her one hospitalization cost over $300,000. Her stroke left her disabled, and she will cost the state of California tens of thousands of dollars a year for the rest of her life. She requires twenty-four-hour nursing care to turn her in bed, clean her when she soils herself, and spoon her food into the left side of her mouth so she won’t choke on it.

Diane’s story is an extreme, tragic example of an everyday occurrence in the United States: the deferral of essential medical care among Americans who simply can’t afford it.


  1. ORAXX July 6, 2013

    America has long been a country where you could buy all the health insurance you wanted, provided of course, you didn’t actually need it.

  2. johninPCFL July 6, 2013

    Could an ER visit have forestalled the events in this poor woman’s life? Maybe. But locally, the ERs now charge $75 to $150 to see you if you’re conscious. And they don’t dispense cancer drugs (you can’t get treatment at an ER). And they don’t dispense hypertension drugs (you can’t get treatment at an ER). And they don’t dispense insulin (you can’t get treatment at an ER).
    The common thread is: you can get EMERGENCY CARE at an ER, but not treatment for ongoing, chronic conditions that will still KILL YOU. The GOP response? Die quickly.

    1. idamag July 6, 2013

      I don’t know where you live, but where I live ER’s charge 2200 dollars.

      1. dtgraham July 6, 2013

        What if you don’t have the $2,200.00 dollars? Do you still get Reagan’s emergency room freebie if you can demonstrate in some way that you can’t afford it?

        1. InsideEye July 6, 2013


          1. dtgraham July 6, 2013

            That’s good.

          2. Kansan July 12, 2013

            I read your Palin “term paper,” “you betcha,” response to my wife and she had a good chuckle. We’re both retired ex-Alaskans.

            I appreciate your sense of humor, terse when appropriate, and extremely well-informed posts. I assume you may be a Canadian in the medical field.

            Don’t know if you’re up on it, but the party of no regulation (except for lady parts), quite possibly through bills written by the hundreds of Koch stooges at the American Legislative Exchange Council, have pushed measures all over the U.S. that would not only require trans vaginal ultrasounds, force doctors to give false information to patients, but would impose ridiculous restrictions on abortion clinics down to the dimensions of closet storage sizes. I wouldn’t put it past them to require such buildings to be painted a particular color. Here we have semi-literates (i.e., Steve King, Joe Barton, Steve Stockman, Louis Gohmert, Michele Bachmann, etc.) in Congress and state legislatures practicing medicine without a license.

        2. ralphkr July 7, 2013

          You do not have to demonstrate that you cannot afford to pay the bill but merely have to refuse to pay the bill. Of course, if you own a home the hospital shall put a lien on it or merely seize your property and sell it.

          1. dtgraham July 7, 2013

            Good lord ralph. That’s madness. You and I have had some interesting health care discussions lately on two different threads (now three). Thanks for the info.

          2. ralphkr July 7, 2013

            Not madness, dtgraham, but the way business is done. If you owe money the business shall get a judgement against you and, depending upon your circumstances, garnish your wages (which normally gets you fired) or put a lien on real property to eventually seize it and sell on the court house steps.

          3. dtgraham July 7, 2013

            Yes, certainly ralphkr. I understand the normal procedures for indebtedness, but none of that should apply to health care. It’s not your fault that you just got really sick or injured. If you can’t afford this, that, or the other health care procedure…then fine, that’s where we should all pitch in and help each other out.

            It’s coincidental that you bring up putting liens on real property. During a family conference discussion, it was pointed out to me that we would now have to have a wheelchair ramp installed in our house for Theresa. I said that we would contact the appropriate people and get this done. I was curious and asked them what would happen if we didn’t have the funds to pay for something like this. They told me that there was a government program available to fund ramps for the less fortunate and money wouldn’t be an obstacle. I then asked them what happens in other countries that don’t have these programs. The chief neurosurgeon that supervised Theresa’s spinal surgery told me that he believed that “assets were seized” in countries that didn’t have such programs for the less well off.

            Mind you, I have no idea what happens in the U.S. in such circumstances. I’m guessing that Medicaid covers such things and I would be extremely surprised if they didn’t.

          4. ralphkr July 7, 2013

            To tell the truth, I have no idea if Medicare or Medicaide would cover the cost of installing a wheelchair ramp in a private home. My mother-in-law did get a wheelchair from the VA but I paid for the material and built the ramp myself since that is much easier on my bad back than picking her up and carrying her.I do know that if a person contracted to have a ramp built and then did not pay the contractor that a mechanic’s lien would be placed upon the house & would have to be paid within a certain period of time or the property would be sold to pay off the lien.

            At one time our local hospital threatened to seize my home for an unpaid bill. I had paid the bill in full months before BUT they had credited the wrong account number. For some reason the hospital would assign a new number every time one comes in so I ended up with one account showing $245 credit and one account showing $245 owed and they could not or would not transfer the money between accounts. In some states you are allowed to Homestead your home and no one can touch it but there are many exceptions to that rule. Too many times US citizens have to choose between health care or feeding & housing their family and that is why many of our citizens end up homeless due to medical bills.

          5. dtgraham July 7, 2013

            I don’t have that option as ramps here have to be completely up to code and will be inspected whether you built it yourself or not. Let’s just say that you wouldn’t want me as the host of some handyman TV show. I’d be off the air fast. I wouldn’t even try to build it. I’ve always envied guys with your skills.

            At any rate, with the knee replacement and subsequent physio, she just might be able to walk again making the ramp unnecessary. Everything’s sort of up in the air now.

            One thing that I think we agree on ralph is that health care is too important and too expensive to be left to each individual. Most things may be but that should be a societal, collective responsibility. Like I said in a previous post, America does the socialist health care thing now in so many ways. Just expand it. It’ll happen eventually.

      2. ralphkr July 7, 2013

        I have been sent to the ER once in my life. On 1 Dec 2010 I had a scheduled doctor’s appointment and he sent me to the hospital for scans after I mentioned that I had to stop and catch my breath 3 times walking the 94 feet out to the road to get my mail. After leg sonogram & chest scan they wheeled me into the ER for medication & observation. My doctor charged $90 for setting up immediate scans for me plus another $200 for reading the report the hospital sent to him. The hospital & their doctors charged me $3,300 so that little jaunt caused by yapping off about my pulmonary thrombosis cost me an extra $3,590 not to mention having to have 6 $400 shots in my abdomen. Fortunately, I have health insurance. ,

        1. InsideEye July 7, 2013

          Nay! if you we’re truly a rat, the warfarin would have worked. I am glad you yelped , hope all is well, the overcharges are paying for the patients that are not charged at all.

    2. Dominick Vila July 6, 2013

      You are right. The problem with the GOP alternative to ACA is that Reagan’s Emergency Room “freebies” do not include preventive medical care. ER care is designed to help people involved in accidents, a person that had a heart attack and other sudden illnesses. If you have a debilitating illness you are on your own.

      1. latebloomingrandma July 6, 2013

        It has always baffled me, also. Especially by “religious” people. It just smacks of “I got mine, you go and get yours, and if you can’t, too bad.”

        1. Dominick Vila July 7, 2013

          I agree. Some people obviously have a very twisted interpretation of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and other prophets. Greed, irresponsibility, intolerance, and lack of compassion are inconsistent with the religious values they claim to believe in.

        2. plc97477 July 7, 2013

          In other word; don’t get sick, if you get sick die quickly.

          1. idamag July 7, 2013

            In the words of Alan Grayson. So true, so true.

      2. InsideEye July 6, 2013

        We already have a working system with all of the care that can be available. I work in the system …it would be good to have a single payer system, similar to Medicare, where everyone contributes…if one is working……that is the problem. Everyone does not contribute…..there fore Medicaid….paid for by the working tax payer. Everyone must contribute…..all healthcare could be paid from general US operating funds….from a national Sales tax…..this way everyone pays Into it….the cash rich mob, all undercounter cash businesses, all undercounter off shore GE like corporations, , welfare recipients, college students…..same thing……It can be administered by Medicare and not the suspect IRS. This way we not have to have another unreadable healthCare document…Nancy Pelosi was right……no one knows what is in it…..We already have the document ….Medicare.

        1. Dominick Vila July 6, 2013

          Expanding MEDICARE to cover all Americans would have been a lot easier and, very likely, more cost effective. The problem is that those who wish to dismantle it and replace it with a voucher system that would leave hundreds of thousands of senior citizens with substandard options, would be nothing compared to what would happen if the system was expanded to include everyone. .

          1. InsideEye July 6, 2013

            A voucher system could work, but it had not been fully explained . A senior or any one could have a voucher for 10K …example and one could purchase only what he needed….Seniors would not need ObGyn or pediatric services, but certainly may need a new heart perchance . The remainder of voucher can be used for other medical items. The big factor is that healthcare workers do need to get paid for 24/7 service and the best technology has to be purchased for treating the silent lips., your tired, your poor,
            Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free of pain,
            The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
            Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
            I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”….the Golden Doors are expensive and have to be constantly maintained. It can be done, but the proposed Obama system is not the correct solution…..Medicare extension is the way…it is ready to go.

      3. Allan Richardson July 6, 2013

        If a poll asks people their opinion of EACH PART of Obamacare SEPARATELY, the vast majority approve of the parts (EXCEPT the coverage mandate, which is the only way to make the others work; it’s the Brussels sprouts part of the steak dinner). But if you ask them their opinion of the NAME Obamacare, or the phrase “the health care law signed by President Obama,” the majority do not approve (although, to be fair, that “majority” is half composed of people who think it goes TOO FAR, and half composed of people who think it does not go FAR ENOUGH, but certainly do not want to repeal it).

        It’s all how you ask the question, as in:
        “Do you want to go to heaven?”
        “You don’t want to go to heaven when you die?”
        “Sure, but I thought you were getting up a busload NOW.”

        1. Dominick Vila July 7, 2013

          I couldn’t agree with you more. Indeed, our answers are often consistent with our interpretation of the question being asked. That, by the way, is the reason I do not have too much respect for our media. Instead of asking relevant and pointed questions, they often framed them in a way to create the controversy they need to exist.
          The mandate to get insurance coverage, which I believe has been postponed and, as you pointed out is an absolute necessity for the system to work, is unacceptable to those who depend on ER freebies when they have a problem.

    3. InsideEye July 6, 2013

      The ER is not a clinic to be used for chronic care . Anyone that ignorant should expire soon anyway.

      1. Melvin Miller July 6, 2013

        Wow! Just Wow! What a barbaric thing to say.

        1. InsideEye July 6, 2013

          If you go to the ER you will be treated for slip ups, you will be treated for, lack of insulin, hypertension, acute allergies- asthma, acute leukemia , etc, but you will be triaged to clinics that can best follow your progress. The ER is for splinters, bugs in your ear….excruciating…and serious other emergencies….to be evaluated as such by the ER staff.

      2. ralphkr July 7, 2013

        I suggest, InsideEye, that you take a moment to think before you post. Those people who are not wealthy or have health insurance have no access to health care except by going to the ER. Since so many US citizens do not have insurance their reliance upon the ER for their health care needs is a big factor in why the US spends far more per person on health care than ANY country with public health care and have shorter projected life spans because of all the unnecessary deaths due to not having health care insurance.

        1. InsideEye July 7, 2013

          This ridiculous situation is miltiplied many times regarding educational needs for these people also….then money has to be diverted….officials allowing the Mexican cars to cross our border plus the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, which mandates that U.S. hospitals with emergency-room services treat anyone who shows up for care including illegal aliens. This unfunded mandate was legislated by a Congress that closed its eyes to the costs.

          We are not just talking about Mexicans who may have had an accident close to the border. We are talking about Mexicans with serious health problems who are deliberately sent to the United States after Mexican hospitals discover they can’t pay for services and have no insurance.

          A study made by the U.S.-Mexico Border Counties Coalition, an American lobbying group, found that U.S. hospitals in border states provide at least $200 million a year in uncompensated emergency care to illegal aliens. In the four border states, 77 hospitals now face a medical emergency.

          Uncompensated care to illegal aliens in Arizona cost the Cochise County Health Department 30 percent of its annual budget, the Copper Queen Hospital in Bisbee $200,000 out of a net operating income of $300,000, the University Medical Center in Tucson $10 million, and the Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Tucson $1 million in only the first quarter of last year. The Southeast Arizona Medical Center in Douglas is on the verge of bankruptcy and some emergency rooms and pre-natal units have closed because they can’t afford to stay open.stop by Bisbee, Az and see …..a unique place as well.

          My suggestion was for a contribution Medicare system funded by a National Sales Tax….there fore everyone contributes . Today only WORKING tax payers pay for all. Freeloading costs all of us. This is the land is the Free, but not Free loaders.

          1. ralphkr July 7, 2013

            Your hospital only has a net operating income of $300K & $200K of uncompensated care??? That is amazing. Our tiny little hospital, 80 bed, has an operating budget of $140 million and $11 million per year of uncompensated care. Of course, don’t have a lot of Canadians sneaking across the border and going to our ER although those that do end up needing care are paid for by their gov’t so that $11 million is for caring for US citizens who do not pay their bill. By the way that uncompensated care means that it is NOT covered by Medicare but has to be covered by local property taxes.

            The problem with the many proposals to do away with current income and other taxes and replace it with a “fair national sales tax” is merely part of the drive by the wealthy to reduce their tax load and to make sure that those with low income pay a greater portion of their money in taxes than those in the top 20%.

          2. InsideEye July 7, 2013

            It is a 15 bed hospital, on the border, south of Tucson, geeat staff. critical care access, till your stabilized , and helicoptered out if you need more assistance, Numbers are quarterly, budget is approx 10M. All Working people have a tax load, except cash dealers and the GEs of the world, but they do create jobs . They should also pay a min . Sales Tax , everyone will then be accounted as a contributor. The present system is saturated with ear marks….same thing just happened with immigration reform bill.. It had to be filled with earmarks for passage. Anyone taking earmarks should be expunged…outrageous

          3. Russell Byrd July 8, 2013

            If InsideEye works in healthcare, I do not want to visit that cesspool of a hospital. As it is, I doubt greatly that InsideEye knows anything about healthcare, but only uses that ruse as a front to add weight to its argument.

      3. idamag July 7, 2013

        When I sent to the emergency room with broken ribs, I had to take my turn with sniffles, headaches and what-have-you. Using the emergency room for a walk-in clinic is irresponsible.

        1. InsideEye July 7, 2013

          Absolutely, hope you can laugh without pain, if you need a spare rib, I have one.

  3. latebloomingrandma July 6, 2013

    And the GOP’s response to this is always “repeal Obamacare.” The party of no-solutions.

  4. Jim Myers July 6, 2013

    It all comes down to this. Do we try to help those in need, or do we provide more “Welfare For The Wealthy?”

    The Republicans, and in particular the Tea Party, tell us the answer in no uncertain terms.

    If you are poor, just die and get out of our way.

    1. jetfuel4 July 6, 2013

      dying is a part of life……and life isn’t always fair…sorry to break then news to you….

      1. Russell Byrd July 8, 2013

        Life could be more fair if we bothered to try . . . sorry to break the news of what being “human,” rather than just an animal, is all about.

        Drink your own swill, and hurry TFU and die.

        1. jetfuel4 July 8, 2013

          how “human” of you…hahhhahaah….liberal hypocrite, but typical, very typical….hahahaha

          1. Russell Byrd July 8, 2013

            Life could be more fair if we bothered to try . . . sorry to break the news of what being “human,” rather than just an animal, is all about.

            Drink your own swill, and hurry TFU and die. Bwwwwwaaaaahhhhh. . . !

    2. InsideEye July 6, 2013

      This story is crock of prunes, you could have gone to an emergency room , I know, I live there. Your insurance is going to be high with the proposed system. What poor white or any color can afford to be forced into paying th penalty of forced premiums…..surely they will be subsidized….What else is new …..Even with all of the so called corruption and fraud , we have evolved the best medical technology in the world. Except for those that want to go to Cuba for care. Hmmm? What ever happened to Presidente Chavez. Our technology makes one live longer and hopefully , productively and with less pain. who out there wants it differently . Stated elsewhere , where would the Canadians go if we had socialized , triaged medical care. Even theRussians have private insurance and private hospitals. Do you wonder why?

      1. dtgraham July 6, 2013

        My wife had delicate spinal surgery on April 2nd. She’s finally home now but will be going back in on July 19th for full artificial knee replacement. That will be about 6 weeks after the initial CT scan and xrays showed the extensive damage to the knee and and led to this recommendation. While I’m positive that this surely has to be an exception, and wait times for knee replacement must be longer than that, still…that impressed me. I frankly don’t know what the normal wait times are regarding knee replacement for people who aren’t in any pain (she wasn’t). The point is, that wait times in Canada are only for highly specialized, non-emergency procedures and often aren’t as bad as portrayed in the American conservative media. Keep in mind also, that I won’t have to pay one dime for any of this. It’s all financed through general taxation with no monthly health care premiums.

        Due to primary medicine for profit being illegal in Canada, I understand that some wealthy Canadians decide to forego a reasonable wait period and fly to the U.S. to have something done tomorrow. If the U.S. had strictly socialized triaged medical care, as you put it, they may not be able to have it done tomorrow, therefore making the trip not worth it…but so what. I’m going to bleed for that?

        Where would Canadians go you ask? I never had to take Theresa anywhere. The single payer government system worked just fine for us. It would work just as well for our American brothers and sisters too although the ACA is a nice improvement.

        1. InsideEye July 7, 2013

          In another post I did also recommend a single payer system, as we already have in Medicare….just extend the program. The problem in the US is that only the working tax payer supports the entitlement programs. The system should be nationalized and supported through a National sales tax…. That way everyone contributes…even the cash strapped mob and drug lords…..no more rancor or politics. …..Ben Bernanke (federal Reserve) knows how to do this, he does it everyday . One way or another we the WORKING tax payers pay for it…….Some do not. …that is the problem!!!…Yes Canada is very good.

          1. dtgraham July 7, 2013

            A sales tax is one way to help finance it. It seems regressive to me but I suppose it could be part of the mix. The implication here is that Canada somehow has a much higher percentage of it’s people working and supporting “entitlement” programs while America has a higher proportion of layabouts. Americans are awfully hard working people and I have a hard time believing that.

            One potential problem may be in the illegal workforce, largely from Mexico. I don’t know what the situation is with the long term ones insofar as their tax and payroll situation. If they’re not contributing due to their status, and they’re using ER services, then obviously that’s a problem. Bringing them out of the shadows and getting them contributing fully and paying taxes is the ticket there.

            When you look at various charts and graphs on the subject, you notice that America spends a disproportionate amount of government revenues on health care compared to other advanced nations, and costs as a percentage of GDP are off the charts compared to other countries. Yet so many uninsured, so many medical bankruptcies, only 25% of citizens satisfied with the system.

            America already does the socialist health care thing: Medicare, Medicaid, the VA, etc… I agree with you and Dominick. Just expand it to cover everyone, and do other things like getting the federal government to negotiate drug prices with suppliers to control costs. Governments can do some things very well. That’s one of them. Then kick the private health insurance companies to the curb.

            If you’re a Republican, I’m surprised you feel this way InsideEye. I wonder how many other Republicans do?

          2. InsideEye July 7, 2013

            The 25% are probably the “layabouts” as you say. I am an issues person, not party affiliated. The undocumented should be given cards and be identified , allowed to work and pay into the health system, education and allowed to become citizens as is the process, no exemptions, they are already getting a right to work here…and they work very hard indeed, whereas other members of our society will not get off their butts. These are the Americans that should be deported …to NYC perhaps, isolated so we know who they are ….”out of the shadows”

          3. dtgraham July 7, 2013

            I was wincing when I was typing that phrase, out of the shadows. I’ve heard it like a gazillion times and it wouldn’t leave my brain. Part of the art of brainwashing I guess. I couldn’t stop myself. The right have their phrases, the left have theirs.

          4. InsideEye July 7, 2013

            It is wincing, thanks for the chat.

        2. idamag July 7, 2013

          Where I spent my winters, in Arizona, we had many Canadians who were spending their winters there. They thought our healthcare system of for profit was barbaric. I asked them about the long waits and they said surgery that must be done immediately is done immediately. They said the wait thing was exaggerated by the medical profession in the United States. When our medicine is the bottom line on the stock market page of the Wall Street Journal.

          1. dtgraham July 7, 2013

            There’s a lot of disinformation for sure. The young Canadian actress Ellen Page noted that on the Daily Show recently, citing Fox News in particular.

            The most famous recent example was the infamous case of Shona Holmes, who didn’t want to wait at all for treatment in Ontario for her “condition”. She wanted the Canadian government to pay for her treatment at the Mayo Clinic. They will for various reasons but wouldn’t do it for her, claiming that it was unnecessary. She eventually got paid to do a series of TV ads in the U.S. in 2009 warning Americans of the dangers of adopting the single payer system. She claimed that she was losing her sight and had life threatening brain cancer but couldn’t get timely treatment in Canada. It was confirmed later that she had Rathke’s Cleft Cyst, and that was known from the start. Rathke’s is not a form of cancer at all, is not life threatening, and she was in no danger of losing her sight. The mortality rate from Rathke’s is zero percent.

            Wait times idamag are for more specialized non emergency procedures. Emergencies are dealt with promptly, always. For general stuff you can make an appointment to see your family Doctor or simply go to any of the walk-in clinics and get treatment right away.

            It seems to me that Vermont is, or will be, experimenting with government single payer. Good for them. What seniors have now in the U.S. is coming to everyone one day.

          2. Russell Byrd July 8, 2013

            Once, in a class I had, there was a lady from Sardinia. An Italian citizen. She was married to an American. She pointed out that in the United States, neither of them had any health insurance. In Italy, however, as soon a they set foot, they were both covered.

            I will preempt InsideEye by saying that health services in that much poorer country are very good. The problem with the United States is EVERYTHING is on the bottom line on the stock market page of the Wall Street Journal.

            Our nation is dying of terminal greed.

          3. InsideEye July 8, 2013

            You have outlined why it is so costly, High technology from Pharma and innovative Medical Device firms are costly. Cancer treatment is extremely difficult , , some common cancers have a fine predictable outcomes, but others are stressful for all . Costa Rica. Has a national system, but many do have private insurance supplement , BECAUSE, of long waiting times. Many gringos go down there for cosmetic surgery, because it is cheaper and includes airfare and a resort atmosphere to recuperate. Also this type of surgery is batched for best economic efficiencies, Cardiac implants can not be batched..But the government is being stressed to the limit.
            Why?..?.. Get ready! I seems that Nicaraguans are coming across the border, and not contributing to the system, but taking its benefits and draining resources. NOW WHERE did you ever hear of a thing like that going on !!!!!?!??

          4. Russell Byrd July 8, 2013

            That is not in any way a reply to the eye witness truth I have related. As well, I have rarely read anything so disjointed and convoluted. Been double dipping the hospitals pharmaceuticals?

            In simplest terms, universal healthcare is the right thing to do. We no longer live in a world where the Black Death may wipe out your entire village. We have medical treatments for most of our serious illnesses. Often with cures. To leave anyone without care is unreasonable at best and evil at worst.

            What to argue about money? This country has NEVER been richer. Unfortunately, some feel that those that are robbing our society have “earned” their excessive takings. So pander to the powerful and moneyed elites, until you face the facts of common decency, everything you write is irrelevant. WE are going to win this one. . . .

          5. InsideEye July 9, 2013

            I suggested we pay for health care from general operating funds, administered by the existing Medicare administrative structure no corrupt IRS oversight and financed from a general sales tax for this purpose. This includes corporations and the general public, every product bought and sold or service rendered would be taxed to offset the supposed 1.8 trillion we spend for current healthcare. No more politics or rancor . No there is no “Right” to have medical care, but it is the “Right” thing to have. …..and EVERYONE contributes to the pot…working tax payers and others who have no employment.

      2. Sand_Cat July 8, 2013

        Still haven’t gotten your eye outside your rectum, I see, InsideEye.

        1. InsideEye July 8, 2013

          Rectum, damn near killed im! You seem to be anally pre-occupied. … But cats seem always to be digging around in crap i suppose. How may I Answer a question for you. Make a statement for discussion.

  5. Catskinner July 6, 2013

    Kind of ridiculous, really. You can’t continue to spend money you don’t have.

    1. Dominick Vila July 6, 2013

      Does that mean no more crusades, no more sole source contracts to Halliburton, Bechtel or Blackwater USA? Does that mean no more subsidies to companies posting huge profits? No more loopholes to millionaires? No more tax havens that allow multi-millionaires to avoid paying the fair share to Uncle Sam? Or is it limited to the poor, seniors, students, and the lower middle class?
      I don’t have a problem with encouraging private sector investment at home, I believe prosperous companies are the best long term solution we can hope for, but I also believe that helping those who already own 2/3 of our national wealth at the expense of our most vulnerable citizens is not the way to go. There has to be a happy medium, and at the moment that is sorely lacking.

      1. Catskinner July 6, 2013

        Yes to the first part, but a lot of the money going to poor people is wasted as well–like food stamps being cashed at strip joints, and etc.

        1. Dominick Vila July 6, 2013

          I favor the establishment of an effective jobs placement program as a condition to welfare. In my opinion, indefinite welfare encourages laziness and abuse. I support helping those who for a variety of reasons are unemployed and unable to find a job, but after a few months they must find a way to go to work. That problem could be solved if a Jobs Placement organization informed welfare recipients of where there are jobs available. If a person is notified 2 or 3 times and does not provide credible evidence for not being able to accept a job, that person should become ineligible to welfare. I don’t mind helping those who truly need help, I refuse to help bums.

          1. plc97477 July 7, 2013

            I may be wrong but I think the welfare was changed in the 1990s to include most of what you have posted. It is limited to 2 years I believe and you have to be able to prove that you are seeking employment.

          2. idamag July 7, 2013

            It is limited to 2 years and the recipient has to prove they are looking for work.

          3. idamag July 7, 2013

            Since the welfare reform, of the Clinton administration, there is a welfare to work program in place. It is not like it used to be. There is more problem with the Social Security program. SSI is supplemental insurance for people with children with disabilities. When I worked for Health and Welfare, there were people who shopped around until they found a doctor who diagnose their children with ADD or speech problems to get the $700/mo supplemental Social Security. SSD for people who are unable to work is another one that is abused. We used to take turns letting the secretary go to lunch. When I was taking a turn at the front desk, one of the women, who worked there, asked me to giver her husband her check when he came in. He came in and picked up her check every payday. He was unable to work because of a “bad back.” As I was handing him the check he said he was really tried as he got 6 loads of wood out of the forest the day before.

        2. idamag July 7, 2013

          Don’t blabber off at the mouth without solid proof to present.

          1. Catskinner July 7, 2013

            It was on a documentary on television–don’t recall where–but what about all the 7-11 stores the FBI is investigating now. You can blabber off at the mouth about those, if you want to.

      2. idamag July 7, 2013

        Also, how about no more subsidies to race horse raisers and racetrack people or to the man in Texas who bought 8000 acres to put in the land bank. People don’t realize that the businessman, in their heads, and the huge multi-national conglomerates are two different things. The huge corporations have become monsters that swallow the independent businesses and purchase our government.

  6. jetfuel4 July 6, 2013

    misleading article but what do you expect from the source…..purely political….

  7. charleo1 July 6, 2013

    I was wasting my time the other day talking to an ardent, anti-abortion, GOP
    supporter that had ridden in on his moral high horse, condemned the entire
    Democratic Party to Hell. for being Godless. You know, wanting to leave abortion
    up to the woman, and supporting marriage equality. When I ask him how he
    squares a born again, Christian Governor from Texas, cutting 120,000 women and
    children, living below the poverty line, from access to a doctor, and cancer tests
    that could save their lives. All to make an abortion harder to obtain for a relatively small percentage of women? You know, if he had read his Bible lately? Or, if he knew, if part of the GOP Party he belonged to, wanted to cut the food program for the poor by 20 billion dollars? But, couldn’t agree. Because there were others who thought that cutting food for the poor was so important they wanted twice that cut. And was wondering which faction he thought Christ would agree with? I told him,
    I had read the Bible. Yes, Democrats read the Bible. It don’t burn our hands, or anything! I told him, you can’t hardly turn around in the New Testament, that Christ isn’t feeding poor people, or healing a leper, or giving a blind person back his sight.
    I ask him, if the Evangelicals were still reading the Bible? Or had they switched to Ayn Rand? Or, the Koch Brothers had a little something printed up? He didn’t write
    back. I see a couple of Righties, doing a cost analysis of the profit margin of providing healthcare for a $7,50 per hour counter girl. As opposed to just hiring another one. And, they’re right! It is less expensive to let her die! As one said, and
    I had never heard this! “We can’t keep spending money we don’t have.” Well,
    certainly not on $7,50 an hour counter girls. How about fetuses over 20 weeks?

  8. howa4x July 6, 2013

    The medical cost problem is not solely due to the insurance companies even though they are run by heartless, cruel and callous people. The culprit is us. We consume far more calories than we need and while other countries are starving to death we have an obesity epidemic. We eat too much fast greasy food. Paula Deen’s punishment was light considering her diet was a recipe for diabetes, which she had, and heart disease. Obese people are candidates for amputations, hip and knee replacements, cancer, diseases of the circulatory system, arthritis and a host of other ailments. The cost of treating these diseases is staggering and runs into the hundreds of billions, even trillions. We as a culture spend 2.7 trillion on illness intervention per year and we are not any better. We keep going to the back end of the issue which is medical costs but not the front end of how do we prevent it. Our real problem stems for the fact that we have a capitalistic model for health care intervention. Sorry right wing, Obamacare didn’t change that. Every level of the system from the community doctor to the largest hospital chain runs on the profit model. So no level wants to prevent illness since that is the cash cow of the system. This is why health care is the only sector of the economy that is growing. The pharma companies also want to cash in, so they make drugs that only really maintain your illness and not cure it, and they are outrageously expensive The entire system is counter intuitive since it depends on more and more people to be sick, and really sick since Cancer is the largest profit center of the system. We are in crisis but the crisis is the system itself. As it is currently set up it will bankrupt this country.
    The debates about having or not having insurance misses the fact that we are no better off medically than Costa Rica when it comes to overall health of the population even with 2 trillion in intervention which is beyond sad, and borders on criminality. We can solve the health care crisis by eating less, eating right and moving more. If we are not having a debate like that then we are just running in a circle of who gets care and who doesn’t. which seem to be the only debate we have.

    1. InsideEye July 7, 2013

      What is a fair price for full coverage for everyone to contribute and how do we collect a representative contribution……or should we pay anything at all?

      1. howa4x July 8, 2013

        We need to get the profit out of health care. This is why it is so expensive. I was on the board of a hospital for 10 yrs and on my state’s health planning board for 3. We would make over 1 million in profit every year and sometimes over 2 million even though we were non profit. Everything done to a patient in the hospital generates a bill, even if the doctor sticks his head in and asks how are you doing. We have a pharmaceutical industry that realized long ago that if the drugs cured people they would not make a profit, so they maintain your illness, and because each drug has side effects they can sell you more drugs. This is not sustainable. the CEO of Cigna 2 yrs ago made 24 million in salary and bonuses. Other CEO’s of large insurance companies made similar salaries. that is money not going to your care. Many people are yelling about Obamacare but it changed the calculus’s. Now 80% of your premium dollar has to go to your care. This is why republicans are outraged. Prior to this change the first .20 c of every dollar went to wall st in the form of dividend profit. We need to cut out the insurance companies entirely, tell Big Pharma that we won’t approve any drug that only maintains Illness and will only approve drugs that cure and change the way medicine is practiced from attacking disease to building up the immune system. If we can do that we will start to have a rational and sustainable system.

        1. InsideEye July 8, 2013

          It is true that insurance companies are a middleman and can be eliminated Medicare is already set up to administer a health program. That can include everyone . Hospital/ medical costs are related to the labor required to take care of a patient 24/7, and the technology is great, complex and costly. Do we price /,wage freeze this industry because it caters to human need. ..as does oil for heating, gasoline for getting to work, SUVs must not be priced over 40k because we need it to drive , Education/tuition …..the professors can teach on line , I suppose. Or nurses/surgeons can make you-tube instructions to use at home for Caesarian or prostatic surgery. Everything should be without cost. We should all move to Cuba . Do they have I – phones there or Castro phones that we can sell for drugs …for our medical needs of course.

          1. howa4x July 8, 2013

            Do you have any idea what doctors are paid? Neurosurgeons make 500,000 to 1 million, and cardiologists a little less. Our doctors are paid exponentially more than any other country in the world. Do you know what we get for the 2.7 trillion spent on illness intervention? To be ranked below Costa Rica in over all health of the population, 34 th in the world. If you think that our health care delivery system is fine then get ready to remortgage your house if you have in life threatening illness in your family.
            My friend just died of cancer and you cannot believe how much the doctors and big pharma made off his death. It was staggering. One of his oncologists billed 15K for 4 20 min sessions so they could poison him to the point where he couldn’t even get out of bed. One of his drugs cost $1,800. Your analogies are ridicules and don’t get to the point of why our medical system is the most expensive in the world.

          2. InsideEye July 8, 2013

            You have outlined why it is so costly, High technology from Pharma and innovative Medical Device firms are costly. Cancer treatment is extremely difficult , , some common cancers have a fine predictable outcomes, but others are stressful for all . Costa Rica. Has a national system, but many do have private insurance supplement , BECAUSE, of long waiting times. Many gringos go down there for cosmetic surgery, because it is cheaper and includes airfare and a resort atmosphere to recuperate. Also this type of surgery is batched for best economic efficiencies, Cardiac implants can not be batched..But the government is being stressed to the limit.
            Why?..?.. Get ready! I seems that Nicaraguans are coming across the border, and not contributing to the system, but taking its benefits and draining resources. NOW WHERE did you ever hear of a thing like that going on !!!!!?!??

          3. howa4x July 8, 2013

            Tell me how you would fix this system

  9. ObozoMustGo July 7, 2013

    The only thing austerity kills is GOVERNMENT and big spending statists that are so greedy they think a person’s earnings first belong to government. Since Obozo came into office, federal spending as a percentage of GDP has gone from about 19% to as high as 24%!!!! That is a ridiculous amount of our economy that the feds chew up and for which we get very little in return. For much of America’s history, federal spending as a percentage of GDP has been well below 10%, except during war times like the last year of WW2 where it was 43% of GDP. This current government has gone out of control and is bankrupting us by spending the earnings of future generations yet to be born. The leftist freaks out there have bought the lie that giving more of your earnings, or in leftist freak land stealing the earnings of others through the ballot box, to government will solve some problem and “progress” us into a future utopia that NEVER comes. Only the political class enriches themselves while the rest of us that actually work get stiffed. Think of it this way… if a representative of a charity approached you and told you that 80%+ of every dollar you give them goes to overhead, would you willingly donate? Of course not. You’d justifiably tell them to go to hell. Then why do you tolerate such nonsense from politicians that sell you the same snake oil? You should not. Instead of austerity, the entire federal aparatus and it’s alphabet soup of agencies and departments needs to be completely dismantled, and NOW!

    Have a nice day!

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” – C. S. Lewis

    “The task of weaning various people and groups from the national nipple will not be easy. The sound of whines, bawls, screams and invective will fill the air as the agony of withdrawal pangs finds voice.” — Linda Bowles

    1. dtgraham July 7, 2013

      Well Obozo, how would you like to reduce government revenues spent on health care and health care costs as a percentage of GDP? Both are out of control compared to other advanced nations. Single payer or any of the European mixed systems will accomplish that.

      Here’s a question for you. I asked our own Lana Ward this recently but she never responded. Do you believe in the concept of quality health care for all regardless of the ability to pay…or not? If you don’t, I understand. You don’t have to justify yourself. You’re free to believe what you like. If you do, then how would you accomplish it? I can’t see how this would be possible using strictly free market principles, but you may be able to enlighten me. How would you do it?

      I hope everything’s going good with you these days Obozo. All the best to you and your family. Take care.

      1. ObozoMustGo July 7, 2013

        DT…. how’s my Canadian socialist buddy doing these days? Did you celebrate America’s independence this 4th of July? I hope so. It should be a global holiday in recognition of all of the good America and our march for individual freedom has done for the entire world. Not that we are perfect, but we’ve been the best thing to happen to the cause of freedom for mankind that has ever existed. This is indisputable.

        Re: healthcare. The difference between you and I is that I know that healthcare is a product or service just like any other to be consumed by those who need it. It is NOT a right. This does not mean that someone who cannot pay should be denied care. As it is, they cannot be denied care now, nor could they ever be denied care in America. But the fact of the matter is that the most efficient way to deliver healthcare services is the same way to most efficient run any enterprise or industry. The less government, the more incentive, the more freedom to innovate by providers and industries that serve them like pharma and med device, the lower the cost structure. The only real solution is freedom. Any industry that governemt gets involved with necessarily drives costs upward, destroys innovation and freedom, and results in shortages, higher costs, and lower quality. Therefore, to make healthcare more affordable, the government MUST get out of it altogether, with very minor regulatory exception. This is not in doubt to anyone objective that can see the results of free industries versus those that are government controlled. Socialism sucks. It destroys innovation and drives up costs while perpetuating the lie that everyone can have everything at someone else’s expense. Meanwhile, the utopia that is pursued NEVER is achieved but is rather always some distant future that never comes, and the political class gets richer at the expense of those whom they have fooled to place their trust in them. This is the essence of socialism. And it sucks!

        Have a great day, DT!

        “Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state lives at the expense of everyone.” ― Frédéric Bastiat

        1. dtgraham July 7, 2013

          People do get turned away at ER’s Obozo. I’ve been reading some of the posts here and have learned some things. They won’t treat anything needing longer term ongoing treatment like cancer or something along those lines. It’s more of a battle field medic kind of a thing as one poster put it. They get you stabilized and out the door you go. At any rate, I get it. You’re a libertarian on many issues and to you health care is just another good or service in the marketplace that you can either afford or you can’t. If you can’t, that’s life. I saw the crowd at that Republican primary debate openly cheer letting an uninsured man die, in the question that was put to Ron Paul.

          To me, health care is a human right that shouldn’t be based on ability to pay. That’s all right though. People have to stop talking past each other and really get to understand how the other is thinking if democracy is going to work.

          You must ask yourself though why people lose their homes, why the medical bankruptcies, why the 50 million who can’t afford health insurance, why all the deaths from lack of access to health care, why the ruined lives…if what you’re saying is true. That wonderful free market should have brought down the cost of care so much that virtually anyone can afford it, no? That’s hardly the case.

          4th of July? You bet. I watch the festivities every year. It’s kind of like an extended Canada Day, which is July 1st. Every year you get that feeling, what…are we doing this again? At least when I watched your birthday celebrations, I didn’t have to watch Carly Rae Jepson do the longest version of ‘call me maybe’ that I’ve ever heard. That girl milked every last drop out of that song, and then some. I thought it would never end. Like I’ve said before, Canada is very fortunate to have the United States of America as a neighbor. It would kind of blow living next door to North Korea or something wouldn’t it? “Ahhh, they shot another rocket into Saskatchewan again last night.” “Damn.” “Took out another hockey rink.”

          Could be a lot worse.

          1. ObozoMustGo July 8, 2013

            Morning DT! I hope your are well today.

            FYI… we have not had a free market in healthcare in the US for over 50 years. In fact, the record increases in cost of care can be correllated to the growth and involvement in healthcare by the federal government. All industries are like that. Look at the cost of education in America. The more the government gets involved, the higher the costs go. And just like every socialist idea, the longer it goes on not solving the problem it was supposed to solve in the first place, the more the socialists say that they need more socialism to cure the problems of socialist ideas. Liberalism is the disease that presents itself as its own cure.

            You also seem to make the common mistake of assuming that health insurance and health care are the same thing. They are not. In fact, what we have in the US is not even health insurance. It’s prepaid healthcare in a Ponzi scheme format. The real notion of insurance is to willingly agree to spread the risks of potentially catastrophic events. Car insurance is real insurance. It does not pay for your oil changes, or your breaks, or routine maintenance. What it does pay for is the big stuff that would be financially disastrous to many people. And in the US, car insurance is VERY competitive and, depending upon your risk profile and where you live, it is very low cost and is affordable by almost every American under a huge number of policy choices. If car insurance and car care took on the same model of health insurance and health care, the cost of car maintenance would skyrocket out of control right along with the cost of car insurance. Aside from the emotional tug that healthcare may have for many, the fact is that the markets work according to the same economic principles.

            You Canadians can have your crappy health system. (I mean that nicely, DT) But for the really bad stuff, you want to be able to come to America just like all the rich people do when their lives are on the line. Medical tourism in the US by wealthy foreigners putting their own money on the line is the best testament to that and it is big business. Unfortunately, that will go away with socialized medicine as the system will be rigged toward the lowest common denominator instead of promoting freedom and innovation. If you are committed socialist, this does not matter to you since the objective is to make everyone equal, even if it is to make them equally miserable.

            Thanks for celbrating the 4th of July with us, DT. You’re a good guy! And you are right… it would suck having NK shooting missiles at hockey rinks. To me, that would warrant a nuclear response! 🙂

            Have a great day, my friend!

            “Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.” ―
            Frédéric Bastiat, The Law

            “But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.” ― Frédéric Bastiat, The Law

          2. dtgraham July 9, 2013

            Well at the moment I’m loving this crappy health care system now that I’ve really seen what it’s capable of. Maybe it’s something you’d have to experience, I don’t know.

            There are a few areas where the market doesn’t do as good a job as a government monopoly, and health care is the best example of that. Pharmaceutical prices are crazy, for example, in comparison to much of the rest of the world because an oligopoly of large firms have colluded to drive up prices artificially. If you had a national system, and the federal government negotiating with suppliers for that system, prices would come down dramatically. Why do you think Canadian drugs are so much cheaper? There are things that governments can do very well and that’s one of them. Actually health care costs are cheaper for virtually everything in single payer. Look at the lower administration costs in your own Medicare.

            I don’t know about the car insurance analogy. Most people probably don’t really need a car but you do have to live. While routine inspections and service on a car are affordable, even the most mundane medical procedures can be quite expensive and out of the reach of too many. Coincidentally, you might be interested to know that many Canadian Provinces don’t allow private auto insurance companies although there are still some holdouts. Car insurance is done through the government (Crown Corporation) by everyone. The reason no Provincial Progressive Conservative politician ever talks about doing away with it is due to it’s general popularity. It simply provides the same coverage cheaper than private insurers would. I believe in free market principles generally speaking and think that the capitalist system produces the best results overall, but certainly not in every case. Where it fails to, then government can do it. I just don’t worship at the alter of capitalism. It’s results and humanity that matter, not an economic model.

            For profit medicine hurts in other ways besides driving up prices and costs. I’ve seen a few documentaries on PBS concerning this. Large corporations that own clinics constantly pressure their Doctors into “increased production” as it was put. Meaning, that they’re forced to spend less and less time with each patient thereby seeing more of them on a fee per consultation basis. In one clinic shown, it got down to 2 minutes per patient. That’s seems absurd but I believe that’s what it was. One of those physicians spoke openly with disgust on camera because it was her last day. I think this particular documentary was entitled “Health care on fire: saving American health care”. I hope I have that right.

            It’s a myth Obozo that you have to come to America for “the really bad stuff”. I now have anecdotal evidence from this year that some really bad stuff can be handled very capably in Canada. In any given year about 0.5% of all Canadians getting health care for something get it in the U.S., and most of those are because they just happened to be there in the first place on business or vacation. If you’re well to do, American health care is Cadillac care for sure, but other people are also doing some good things.

            Have a good one Obozo!

            “Democratic Socialism stresses an activist approach, in which the instrumentality of government in the public interest is used to create a more equitable distribution of the goods of the world and a greater equality of the human condition. A Social Democratic government based on this philosophy can, in very practical ways, realize progressive reforms to bring about greater economic equality and social justice.”

            — Ed Schreyer, NDP Premier of the Province of Manitoba, Canada 1969-1977, Governor General of Canada 1978-1981.

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