Friday, July 27, 2012

"A Shot in the Dark" by Roger Ebert

In "A Shot in the Dark," I like the way Ebert points out his opponents' beliefs and how they don't cohere with their stance against universal health care, Romneycare, Obamacare, and the Affordable Care Act.

As he says, "Many of the opponents of Universal Health Care identify themselves as Christians, yet when you get to the bottom of their arguments, you'll find them based not on Christianity but on Ayn Rand capitalism. Financial self-interest and the rights of corporations are more important to them than loving their neighbors." 

A recent study also indicates that the expansion of Medicaid in states is probably saving lives. However, Kevin Drum, a blogger for Mother Jones, has a good take on the study with graphs and a link to the original study.

And here's another of Ebert's blog posts titled "The Body Count."


bimdude said...

Mr Nasty,
Reading this post reminds me how lucky we have it in Australia. We have had Medicare since the 70's and nobody is denied health treatment for financial reasons. This does not include Dental health unfortunately.
I have had my fair share of medical conditions and have multiple hospital stays and surgeries without having to spend a dime. It is only now that I am planning to travel overseas that I have seen how hard others are doing it.
The Australian government also subsidizes our medication so we only pay around 10% of actual cost.
I gather Canada does something similar. I suppose it is easier for us to do because we only have a fraction of the population you have in the States,
Cheers, Pete

Quintilian B. Nasty said...

Thanks for the comment, Pete. I'm envious. Some folks like to tout that America has the best medical care in the world, which is highly debatable I would think. Comments from such folks reflect American myopia. I'm pretty sure our system is the most expensive, but doing something different would flush commentators talking about "socialism."

travolta said...

"Loving their neighbors" does not equate to redistributing wealth taken on pain of gunpoint.

Christian generosity means you voluntarily share your own time, talent, and treasure. Not vote to give other people's stuff away.

'Ayn Rand capitalism' is not mutually exclusive with being a good Christian. Giving people free stuff makes them dependent on the giver. Helping them earn their own stuff makes them independent.

I believe it is more evil to make people dependent on Uncle Sugar than it is to encourage them (gently or not) to become independent.

Turning to healthcare:

I don't think it is debatable that the best healthcare in the world is available in America if you have the means to acquire it.

I would generally prefer to keep making medical providers rich to encourage further investment in medical advances.

I believe that my political opponents think it is more important to be fair and pool the costs to provide more access. I think their choice would greatly reduce the rate of medical advancement.

I am not willing to make that tradeoff in the long-term. It doesn't mean I "hate the poor" or that "financial self-interest...(is) more important than loving their neighbors" to quote that insulting Ebert article. I believe that I am helping my neighbors more doing it my way.

Quintilian B. Nasty said...

Oh, it's no surprise we're in disagreement, travolta: deja vu all over again.

If people truly care for humanity, I would think they would find it a problem that so many people do not have health care in this country. To simply turn one's check and think "not my problem" is selfish and self-interested -- not qualities you'll find Jesus preaching about or indicative of other world religions and other ethical mindsets.

What we may be disagreeing about is whether health care is a fundamental human right. Right now, the reality exemplifies that contention. If someone comes into an ER with gunshot wounds, they're going to treat him or her ASAP. The same goes for someone with a heart attack. If either of those people don't have insurance, essentially we are paying for their health care through costlier and costlier premiums and rising insurance rates to cover the uninsured. If I'm already paying for the uninsured in a backdoor way, I'd rather have us all covered in some way to hopefully work economy of scale to reduce inflated costs if possible.

Even if economy of scale doesn't work in this regard, if more people were going to doctors and seeking preventative care to combat their problems, we could save many lives. If you've watched Weight of the Nation four-part series (HB0) or looked at the confounding health concerns Americans have because of their lifestyles and diets, the future doesn't get rosier. Preventative care is key.

In addition, say if someone has to have a triple bypass but does not have health insurance because pre-existing conditions made health insurance too expensive relative to their salary because they are an independent contractor, etc., that person is going to have the choice of either dying or getting the bypass. This happens. Your dependent clause of "if you have the means to acquire it" is an important one, but one that could make people think you don't care about the poor, which I don't think is true.

Though you can criticize the criteria of the WHO's rankings ("It's just UN-lovin', liberal bias propogated by the lamestream media!"), the US health care system was ranked 37th in the world. One of the richest nations on the earth was 37th.

Business Insider features the 36 ranked before our country:

Quintilian B. Nasty said...

Even a scholar aligned with the libertarian Cato Institute makes this point about the US having the "best health care" in the world: "The assertion that the U.S. is ‘the best’ across the board has little support -- as does the assertion that the U.S. is ‘the worst,’" Whitman said. "It's a mixed bag. We're better in some ways, worse in others -- and in many categories of potential comparison, there's just not good evidence available, so we have to remain agnostic. People who assert confidently that the U.S. health care system is simply ‘the best’ are probably doing so out of national pride." Link:

The single largest source of medical research in the entire world is the National Institutes of Health. That's public financing -- the big bad government.
The NIH had its funding increased during the Clinton administration with the support of the Republican Congress (the same folks who brought us NAFTA).

Quintilian B. Nasty said...

Also, as Physicians for a National Health Program relate on their FAQ page, "Much current medical research is publicly financed through the National Institutes of Health. Under a universal health care system this would continue. For example, a great deal of basic drug research, for example, is funded by the government. Drug companies are invited in for the later stages of “product development,” the formulation and marketing of new drugs. AZT for HIV patients is one example. The early, expensive research was conducted with government money. After the drug was found to be effective, marketing rights went to the drug company.

Medical research does not disappear under universal health care system. Many famous discoveries have been made in countries with national health care systems. Laparoscopic gallbladder removal was pioneered in Canada. The CT scan was invented in England. The treatment for juvenile diabetes by transplanting pancreatic cells was developed in Canada.

It is also important to note that studies show that, in the U.S., the number of clinical research grants declines in areas of high HMO penetration. This suggests that managed care increasingly threatens clinical research. Another study surveyed medical school faculty and found that it was more difficult to do research in areas where high HMO penetration has enforced a more business-oriented approach to health care.

Finally, it appears that the increasing commercialization of research is beginning to slow innovation. Drug firms’ increasing reliance on contract research organizations (and for-profit ethical-review boards) has coincided with a sharp drop in innovative new drugs and a spate of “me-too” drugs - minor variations on old drugs that offer little benefit other than extended patent life." Link:

I wonder if the NIH could be labeled governmental welfare for drug companies?

I doubt you hate the poor, but there has to be a better system than the one we're under now.

I have my own misgivings about Romneycare, btw.

travolta said...

Your dependent clause of "if you have the means to acquire it" is an important one, but one that could make people think you don't care about the poor, which I don't think is true.

Oh, I intended it to be an important clause. The debate in this country over health care is about access, not health care itself.

I think of it as a sliding bar where way over on the left side (heh) health care is completely paid for by the government no matter how much it costs through taxes no matter how high the tax rate would have to be and way over on the right you have health care run on a ruthless profit-only, demonstrate means to pay before walking in the ER, the poor can go die in alley out back style.

As is normal, the debate in the US is where to peg the slider between the two extremes. And, as is normal in the political landscape these days, everyone who isn't as far to the left as you is an evil scumbag who would be happy to drink the blood of the poor (or, everyone who isn't as far right as you is moron product of the public school system).

There has to be a way to argue about this stuff politely, but I don't know how in the mass-media, soundbite-driven politics of today.

We obviously disagree on where the bar should be set, but I don't think you are evil or stupid simply for disagreeing. We just weigh the trade-offs differently.

Quintilian B. Nasty said...

Slip sliding away, my friend.

If I'm a vampire who's drinking blood (heck, let's extend the metaphor), I'm not going for the poor. They're less likely to be healthy. Better, vitamin-rich blood in the wealthy.

And none of Tru Blood crap.

Earnestly yours,
Russell Edgington