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February 07, 2004

So Why Can Europe Do It?

From Bill Frist:

Dr. Frist, a Tennessee Republican, said his state was "going bankrupt" as a result of trying to achieve universal insurance coverage.

"It is impossible to get everybody covered," Dr. Frist said at a meeting with journalists. "It's impossible to get to 100 percent."

So I guess the United States is universally incompetent compared to the universal systems in Europe?

Or maybe the answer is that it's impossible to get universal coverage when for-profit vultures like Frist's own family hospital corporation, HCA, is draining the system of money and shutting down community hospitals.

Or maybe it's because we let lawmakers write laws, then get immediately hired by those for-profit vultures-- so that the laws screw consumers while fattening the profits of the pharmaceutical industry:

Everyone knows that in Washington, connections matter. So when Representative Billy Tauzin, one of the most influential Republicans on Capitol Hill, signaled that he would retire this year, it did not come as a surprise that some of the city's most powerful trade associations began a bidding war for his services.

But now the courtship of Mr. Tauzin centers on a reported $2 million offer to head the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the drug industry trade group that had billions at stake in the Medicare prescription drug legislation, which Mr. Tauzin helped shepherd on Capitol Hill.

"If you want to know the price of selling seniors down the river," Representative Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader of the House, told reporters this week, "it's approximately about $2 million a year, if you want to hire the manager of the bill on the floor of the House of Representatives."

Or similarly having the top government official in the White House drafting the Medicare law even as he was looking for work with the corporate medical lobbyists:
On May 12, 2003 Thomas Scully, chief administrator for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) obtained an ethics waiver from Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy Thompson allowing him to ignore ethics laws barring him from negotiating employment with anyone financially affected by his official duties or authority. Scully subsequently acted as the White House's head negotiator on the Medicare prescription drug bill, a bill that significantly affected the financial interests of five firms he was in employment talks with. On December 18, 2003 Scully announced that he was joining two of the firms affected by the bill.
It's a flat out lie that universal health coverage is impossible. European countries do it everyday, with lower infant mortality rates, longer lives, and lower health care costs per capita. But as long as corporate lobbyists run the medical system and the Congress, yes, it may be impossible to achieve reform.

But the answer is not to give up on universal coverage. It's to fire those lobbyists masquerading as democratic representatives of the people.

Posted by Nathan at February 7, 2004 07:37 AM