Thursday, July 16, 2009

Government Health Care?

As we rush towards turning our health care system over to the government I find myself wondering something. Why do we keep looking at what Canada, Britain, and other countries have done with their health care systems? We already have several health care systems in this country that are run by the federal government. The Canadian government isn't going to be running our health care. The British government isn't going to be running our health care. Our government is going to be running our health care. If we want to know what we can expect from them we should be looking at how well they've done with the health care systems they already control.

Way back in 1787, the federal government made an agreement that resulted in the creation of the Indian Health Service to provide Native Americans free health care on the reservations. So how's that working out?

On some reservations, the oft-quoted refrain is "don't get sick after June," when the federal dollars run out. It's a sick joke, and a sad one, because it's sometimes true, especially on the poorest reservations where residents cannot afford health insurance. Officials say they have about half of what they need to operate, and patients know they must be dying or about to lose a limb to get serious care.

Then there's the Veterans Health Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. You may recall a couple of years ago when the VA's crown jewel, the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, was exposed as a cess pool.

Behind the door of Army Spec. Jeremy Duncan's room, part of the wall is torn and hangs in the air, weighted down with black mold. When the wounded combat engineer stands in his shower and looks up, he can see the bathtub on the floor above through a rotted hole. The entire building, constructed between the world wars, often smells like greasy carry-out. Signs of neglect are everywhere: mouse droppings, belly-up cockroaches, stained carpets, cheap mattresses.

Now it's just recently come out that the VA isn't doing a particularly good job looking after our female veterans either:

The five veterans said women sometimes aren't properly informed upon discharge that health benefits are still available. They described how dealing with government is frustrating and confusing, and that often their unique needs, such as child care and sexual assault counseling, aren't understood by government officials.

Do you really believe the federal government will do a better job taking care of you than it has taking care of it's existing obligations? I don't.

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