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The Money or Your Health! The Fruits of Corporate Healthcare.

July 18, 2007

Your Money Or Your Lung!

Mr. C just finished reading an interesting article on Alternet.org about healthcare by Barbara Ehrenreich. The article is pretty good by pointing out the obvious fact, health insurance corporations are for profit corporations and that they are in business to make money, not take care of peoples health.

What Mr. C found most fascinating were some of the comments right after the article. One commenter called EagleMB espoused the tired old corporate talking points that innovation will be stifled if not outright killed if private corporations are not allowed to make a profit. He dribbled off some B.S. statistics like %50 percent of all “new” drugs are make by American pharmaceutical companies. He uses examples like Merck and Pfizer.The Money Or Your Lung!The Money Or Your Lung!

Well Mr. C has news for you sunshine, Merck is not an American owned corporation. Phizer is American based, but in reality is a multinational corporation that has purchased smaller companies for most of its “inovative” drugs over the last seven years. EagleMB goes on about how if big pharmaceutical profiteers can’t make boatloads of cash off of useless drugs, they will go bankrupt. Well again sunshine, countries with “socialized” medicine purchase drugs from these corporations. In turn, these corporations agree to sell it countries with “socialized” medicine.

Last time Mr. C checked the headlines, Sweden has not invaded the corporate headquarters of Merk or Phizer. If corporate pharmaceutical giants were loosing money from these deals, they would refuse to sell to these countries, or go belly up. If corporate pharmaceutical giants were truly in favor of  a “free and open” market, they wouldn’t spend millions a year to bribe politicians to help protect their monopolies.

Anyhow, here is the origional article by Barbara Ehrenreich. Mr. C would suggest that TC‘s reader(s)? follow the link and read some of the comments right after the article. It just cracks Mr. C. up when suposed “free marketers” get all defensive when they see potential threats to their well purchased monopolies.

Health Care vs. the Profit Principle
By Barbara Ehrenreich, Barbaraehrenreich.com
Posted on July 17, 2007, Printed on July 18, 2007
http://www.alternet.org/story/56965/

It’s always nice to see the President take a principled stand on something. The man formerly known as “43,” and now perhaps better named “29” for his record-breaking approval rating, is promising to battle any expansion of government health insurance for children — and not because he hates children or refuses to cough up the funds. No, this is a battle over principle: private health care vs. government-provided health care. Speaking in Cleveland this week, Bush boldly asserted:

I strongly object to the government providing incentives for people to leave private medicine, private health care to the public sector. And I think it’s wrong and I think it’s a mistake. And therefore, I will resist Congress’s attempt … to federalize medicine…In my judgment that would be — it would lead to not better medicine, but worse medicine. It would lead to not more innovation, but less innovation.

Now you don’t have to have seen “Sicko” to know that if there is one area of human endeavor where private enterprise doesn’t work, it’s health care. Consider the private, profit-making, insurance industry that Bush is so determined to defend. What “innovations” has it produced? The deductible, the co-pay, and the pre-existing condition are the only ones that leap to mind. In general, the great accomplishment of the private health insurance industry has been to overturn the very meaning of “insurance,” which is risk-sharing: We all put in some money, though only some of us will need to draw on the common pool by using expensive health care. And the insurance companies have overturned it by refusing to insure the people who need care the most – those who are already, or are likely to become, sick.

I once tried to explain to a Norwegian woman why it was so hard for me to find health insurance. I’d had breast cancer, I told her, and she looked at me blankly. “But then you really need insurance, right?” Of course, and that’s why I couldn’t have it.

This is not because health insurance executives are meaner than other people, although I do not rule that out. It’s just that they’re running a business, the purpose of which is not to make people healthy, but to make money, and they do very well at that. Once, many years ago, I complained to the left-wing economist Paul Sweezey that America had no real health system. “We have a system all right,” responded, “it’s just a system for doing something else.” A system, as he might have put it today, for extracting money from the vulnerable and putting it into the pockets of the rich.

But let’s not just pick on the insurance companies, though I wouldn’t mind doing that — with a specially designed sharp instrument, over a period of years. Sunday’s Los Angeles Times featured a particularly lurid case of medical profiteering in the form of one Dr. Prem Reddy, who owns eight hospitals in Southern California. I do not begrudge any physician a comfortable lifestyle – good doctoring is hard work – but Dr. Reddy dwells in a 15,000 square foot mansion featuring gold-plated toilets and keeps a second home, valued at more than $9 million, in Beverly Hills, as well as a $1.4 million helicopter for commuting.

The secret behind his $300 million fortune? For one thing, he rejects the standard hospital practice of making contracts with insurance companies because he feels that these contracts unduly limit his reimbursements. (In a battle between Aetna and Reddy, it would be hard to know which side to cheer for.) In addition, he’s suspended much-needed services such as chemotherapy, a birthing center and mental health care as insufficiently profitable. And his hospitals are infamous for refusing to treat uninsured patients, like a patient with kidney failure and a 16-month-old baby with a burn.

But Dr. Reddy — who is, incidentally a high-powered Republican donor – has a principled reason for his piratical practices. “Patients,” the Los Angeles Times reports him saying, “may simply deserve only the amount of care they can afford.” He dismisses as “an entitlement mentality” the idea that everyone should be getting the same high quality health care. This is Bush’s vaunted principle of “private medicine” at its nastiest: You don’t get what you need, only what you can pay for.

If government insurance for children (S-CHIP) isn’t expanded to all the families that need it, there is no question but that some children will die — painfully perhaps and certainly unnecessarily. But at least they will have died for a principle.

Barbara Ehrenreich is the author of thirteen books, including the New York Times bestseller Nickel and Dimed. A frequent contributor to the New York Times, Harpers, and the Progressive, she is a contributing writer to Time magazine. She lives in Florida.
© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/56965/


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