hearts and minds

February 24, 2010

Two Doc’s Heartfelt Words from Long Experience about the Growing Health Care Crisis

Filed under: Class warfare,Health care crisis — Hearts & Minds @ 7:00 pm

I don’t know what else to write about the health care crisis. After seven years of study and writing and advocacy on the subject I am at a loss for more and different words. If I haven’t explained the issue adequately and completely by now, if I didn’t make the case clearly and compellingly in all those articles and leaflets, there is something deeply deficient in my intelligence and my skills, because the nature and dimensions of the crisis, and the simple, straightforward solution to it, couldn’t be more obvious, to anyone who has undertaken a careful, deep study of the problem. If you happened to pass by my very recent article in tribute to the victims of the health care crisis without reading it, please take a minute and read it now. It hasn’t been printed in any mass media publication. It has only appeared on my blog (where it has been visited, if not read, by a grand total of 281 Americans) and just now on the national web site of the truly honorable Physicians for a National Health Program. If, finally, I didn’t say clearly and effectively in that tribute essay, what needs saying and understanding and acting upon with regards to the health care crisis, then I am certainly barking up the wrong tree.

So instead of imposing on you another health care crisis essay, with citations and references, written by me, here are a few choice words from a couple of marvelous physicians who consider their ancient profession (one that long predates any of the “-isms” invented by philosophers, political parties, and the creation of corporations) a calling to prevent and alleviate suffering and serve the needs of the people. Please read their words thoughtfully on the eve of the President’s announced “bi-partisan” Health Care Reform Summit in Washington, D.C., as well as the concurrent Sidewalk Summit, being convened in the cold on the sidewalk outside of the exclusive, comfortable location where members of Congress of both major parties (and behind the scenes, the corporate lobbyists pulling their golden strings) will meet with President Obama. My heart and my mind is with those convening the Sidewalk Summit, and with the victims, past, present, and future, of the health care crisis and the corporate avariciousness which causes it. Which side are you on?

First, the words of Dr. Rene’ Settle-Robinson:

We need Universal Comprehensive Health Care Coverage for ALL.
No fragmented care for haves/have-nots. Best available care for all, withholding nothing that would preserve/improve life.

Universal comprehensive health care negates co-pays, deductibles, prior authorizations, previous health conditions and every other trick in the book of health insurance companies’ fleecing of America that has been accepted by our asleep-at-the-wheel legislative leadership. Universal would eliminate COBRA and the 39% increase in premiums like they just got hit with in California! Why they haven’t been arrested for mass murder I cannot understand. That is the ultimate consequence of either (1) being unable, for whatever reason, to pay health insurance premiums for the privilege of getting your foot in the door, or (2) co-pays, deductibles and everything else they find as a good excuse not to pay for your care after you have paid your hard earned money supplementing what your employer has paid!!!?
Then you are going to die!!!

Which brings me to my final point.
As I see it, health insurance premiums are the most significant cause of our current economic crisis!!!! What business, no matter how profitable, can survive the unbridled escalation of premiums charged to offer employees the impression that they are “covered”.
Universal health care would restore the environment that would allow business to survive and thrive again! People would go back to work. Foreclosures would end and bankruptcies for medical costs would end.
Call it Single Payer, Government run health care, Universal health care, or come up with a new term that violates sensitivities a little less but, do this! Fix this mess and save our America!

Dr. Rene’ Settle-Robinson, in a letter written Feb. 2010, on the eve of the President’s Health Care Reform Bi-Partisan Summit. Dr. Settle-Robinson is a past-president of the Cream City Medical Society and a physician in current practice in Wisconsin.

Now, an excerpt from an unpublished manuscript written by Dr. Glenn Winter:

This ongoing experience of startling significant inequities in our society, particularly brought to my attention in the field of health care, but also evident in education, employment, criminal justice, finance, and other areas, has revealed to me a society and its leaders pathologically unable to face their responsibilities and take effective action, and who instead persistently seek to deny responsibility, hide problems, and blame the victim.

Dr. Glenn Winter, in an excerpt from his study: “Caring for the Uninsured and Under-insured – A Communication from the Front Lines”. Dr. Winter is an internist who worked his entire career until retirement as a primary care physician at Cook County Hospital and directed the Salvation Army Freedom Center Medical Clinic in Chicago.






  1. Our politicians still don’t get it. Our economists still don’t get it. The well-to-do don’t get it. And the nation and its citizens suffer.

    When will the “leaders” be able to understand that as people we are dying because of their inaction, our businesses are dying from their inaction and our nation is dying because they don’t have the courage to fight against the insurance companies.

    Comment by Art P — February 24, 2010 @ 10:22 pm | Reply

  2. THANKS for sending this Clyde. … keep me on your list. I’ve sent out messages galore since Obama announced for Pres run 1/07. Been working in public & private health delivery nearly 30 years. Sent out one more missive the past few days…Please make a few phone calls for real health care reform on Thursday AM. Doctors, nurses & single payer advocates will be demonstrating OUTside the White House holding a “Sidewalk Summit” while the Dems & Repubs meet with Pres Obama for a “Health Care Summit”. NO single payer experts are invited to speak on the inside. outrageous. Corporations are controlling more & more of everything..
    Tell our reps & Pres Obama to support single payer universal health care– expanded & improved Medicare for all, not the watered-down public option that would increase the profits of the insurance industry and make us all pay for it.
    If they get enough calls then perhaps they won’t be quite so eager to give the insurance companies whatever they want.
    Houston numbers:
    Hutchison: 713-653-3456
    Cornyn: 713-572-3337
    Call/contact the White House:
    202-456-1111 (comment line, 8AM-4PM central time, Mon-Fri.)
    or use the easy form at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact any time
    The White House on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/WhiteHouse?ref=mf

    I tried calling both of our Senators’s DC offices several times today, only got recordings…Tell them you want them to support REAL health care reform and save us all money, by EXPANDING MEDICARE to cover everyone, or some other way of specifying single payer. Even the Republicans understand how popular Medicare is.

    …At a hearing today questioning the president of WellPoint, one of the nation’s largest insurers, about rate increases in California, Rep. Michael C. Burgess of Texas, the senior Repug on the investigations and oversight subcommittee of the Energy &Commerce panel, accused the Obama admin of trying to use the rate increases to build support for an expansive bill — and to allow the federal government to interfere with a state issue.: … “Tomorrow the president is holding a bipartisan photo op on health insurance reform,” Mr. Burgess said. “A six-hour photo op.”.. quoted in http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/25/health/policy/25summit.html.
    what a jerk: an MD to boot
    http://burgess.house.gov/Contact/ He only allows Lewisville, 75067 or FtWorth 76119- 2034
    or Cook County emails “constituent emails”
    I found a FtW address, but can’t find anybody in Lewisville or Cook County. If you know of somebody in that district willing to clip and send my letter (below) please do, feel free to edit anyway you want:
    I clipped writings from Robert Reich & others and also sent Burgess online letter via an aide Robin Vaughn mailto:robin.vaughan@mail.house.gov:
    I read your accusatory comments against President Obama in today’s New York Times. How dare you embarrass the citizens of Texas and not give proper respect to our President. Why are you not investigating Wellpoint?
    It’s not as if health insurers have been producing something useful to America. They just collect money from employers and individuals and give the money to providers. In most markets, consumers wouldn’t pay this much for so little. We’d find a competitor that charged less and delivered more. What’s stopping us? Not enough choice.
    Where is the Republican plan for “choice” to the health care consumer?
    You must have heard by now from enough constituents that we don’t really care HOW our providers are paid, and we’re sick and tired of multiple insurers with profit there bottom line instead of the people they’re supposed to serve.
    WellPoint, one of the largest publicly traded health insurers in America, runs Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in 14 states and Unicare plans in several others. WellPoint, through Anthem, is the largest for-profit health insurer in CA & in Maine, it controls 78% the market!

    In Missouri, WellPoint owns 68% of the market; in its home state, Indiana, 60%. With 35 million customers, WellPoint counts one out of every nine Americans as a member of one of its plans. Anti-trust laws are supposed to prevent this kind of market power. So why are giant health insurers like WellPoint exempt? What are you doing to prevent this type of collusion? We might as well call them pirates.

    Over the past two and a half years, WellPoint’s employees and associates have contributed more than $922,000 to federal political campaigns, and the company has spent $7.8 million lobbying. What contributions have you received from Wellpoint or subsidiaries?

    Antitrust is no substitute for broader health care reform, but it’s an important prerequisite. If a handful of giant health insurers are allowed to dominate the industry, many of the other aspects of reform (establishing insurance exchanges, requiring people to have insurance, even allowing consumers to buy insurance across state lines) won’t bring down the price of insurance.

    I want you to sincerely represent the majority of Texans and make a sincere attempt to meet with Democrats and Republican colleagues and move forward on real health reform. Americans want choice of provider, NOT a VA plan, NOT more defective private insurance. Comprehensive, affordable, and eliminating disparities in health care provision. What part of “Nobody Out, Everybody In” don’t you understand? It is time to stop defending profiteering insurance companies and let them compete or go down in market shares and CEO salaries. The only “public option plan” should be Medicare for All.


    Comment by Courtney — February 25, 2010 @ 12:54 am | Reply

  3. Clyde, there is nothing wrong with your writing or thinking, though covering the same topic with the same corrections may be disheartening. But that’s the way it goes when all your opponent (the insurance industry) has to do is keep shoveling the same money to the politicians over and over again. Their argument (the money) never changes either, but it seems more effective.

    Only a 100% turnover in politicians will get us to the real fix, public funding of campaigns.


    Comment by Jack Lohman — February 25, 2010 @ 8:18 am | Reply

  4. “HE’S AT IT AGAIN!!” – ‘Rex’, Toy Story

    Thanks, Clyde. It’s tough to find a crack to stick the crowbar in sometimes.
    They can debate all they want about how to pay for human beings, but it comes down to whether our country honestly believes that “All men are created equal”.
    In practice, we know this line to be bull. In practice, only dollars are created equal, and the more of them that can be put together in a bundle, the more ‘equal’ they are.
    When I told you my harebrained idea of drafting all medical personnel into the military, you blew it off as an exaggerated, dramatic stunt. But think about it again:
    If we are to truly live in a country where everyone gets equal medical care, then not only must we Believe Hard that “everyone is created equal”, but we must practice it with all doctors treated equally. There must not be a profit motive for doctors to become doctors, or to become specialists in any one area. There must not be a profit motive for scaring the living hell out of people with advertising so that they bug their doctor about Prozac or cholesterol drugs.
    True health must be the #1 priority, and it starts with people being treated as valuable parts of the future, not a “burden on our profits” as they are now.
    The insurance companies and lawyers want us to buy the idea that “there can be no price on human health”, but they need to be prevented from setting any price.
    Money has to be taken out of the equations for our future.
    What are people FOR? Surely it isn’t to sit in front of computers all day transferring numbers from one insurance company to the government and back to the insurance companies.
    Competition is NOT all it’s cracked up to be. Don’t listen to anyone who says it is: they are selling something you don’t need, or they control the competition through campaign contributions.

    Comment by Dan C — February 25, 2010 @ 9:05 am | Reply

  5. Its true that US Health Care is hopelessly inefficient. We should be aware however, of why it is structured the way it is:
    1) Doctors & hospitals retain procedure success and billing rates secret, in order to prevent comparison shopping. Only the biggest health insurance companies have a large enough data and customer base to intelligently negotiate and purchase medical services. Hospitals, clinics, and doctors are hiding behind HIPPA to maintain their information advantage.
    2) The sunk investment in guilded hospitals and clinics, puts pension funds and banks squarely in inefficiency’s corner. Lots of money will be lost on momrtgage loans if medical competition actually occurs.
    3) America does not have sufficient primary physicians to handle 45 million more patients, nor is there sufficient medical school capacity to train them in a reasonable amount of time.
    4) The gross administrative inefficiency in American health care employs millions of people administering the labyrinth of insurance forms, authorizations and carrier changes by customers. The employment isssue is very powerful in Washington.
    5) The richness and inequality of the industry, allows politicians to shake down “priviledged” incubants for very lucrative campaign contributions.
    6) Many middle and upper-class Americans figure that expanding medical care to the 45 million people not served, will degrade their quality of service and increase their costs.

    Judged solely on the impediments listed above, its amazing that any health care legislation could get out of either house of congress. Its inevitable, that any legislation that does pass will have to retain enough inefficiency to placate these interests. POLITICS IS MESSY AND INEFFICIENT IN AMERICA, BECAUSE ITS DESIGNED TO BE PRECISELY THAT WAY. The Senate does not apportion seats by the number of voters, and the house does so only by rough approximation. Politics works to maintain the current oligarchy not to replace it.

    Comment by MarkS — February 25, 2010 @ 2:21 pm | Reply

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