Thursday, July 19, 2007

Another open letter to my senators

I occasionally get tired of sending unread pixels to gnomes in the offices of senators Cornyn and Hutchison, and post an open letter addressed to the senators from Texas on my blog so that they might, when surfing the web, run across it and read it here. Of course I also send it the standard way, along with an invitation for the senators (or designated gnomes) to comment, either here or by return mail. They never do, unless you count a form letter.

Dear Senator:

Having seen Michael Moore's film, I feel compelled to write to protest the awful medical system we have in this country.

The word "awful" is carefully chosen. This is the only country in the civilized world where people are _ever_ reduced to penury by medical bills. Only in America. Not only does this happen here, it happens routinely, even in cases where people have insurance they have paid for all their lives in good faith, believing it would actually be there for them when they got sick.

As you know it is quite common to have payment disallowed by insurance companies when major illness strikes. Indeed, and as you know, insurance companies employ large numbers of people whose sole _job_ is to find excuses not to pay when an insured person gets sick.

Republicans believe deeply in home ownership. As it happens, this is also the only country in the civilized world where people lose their homes because of medical bills. Medical bills are the major cause of personal bankruptcy in this country. Not only that, but because of the draconian bankruptcy laws (that YOU voted for, by the way, Senator) victims of illness now stand not only to lose their homes, but, once reduced to bankruptcy, will spend their old age (if they survive the illness, which in this country is less likely than in 36 other countries) in perpetual debt peonage to meet the requirements of their court-ordered payment plan, assuming of course they are able to hobble to Walmart to work as a greeter or stockboy.

What a brave new world you have created!

But wait--the rest of the world is not like this. I momentarily forgot. Sorry. This problem is one of the few items we can find still bearing the label "made in America." In France, and Britain, and every western European country, they spend half as much as we do on medical care, with better medical outcomes. Half as much money. Better outcomes.

And faster service.

Contrary to insurance company propaganda, in all of these countries except Canada they have a _shorter_ wait time for elective medical procedures than we do. (In Canada it's about the same as here.) And nobody at all goes bankrupt because of medical bills in Britain, France, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, get the picture...or even in Canada.

Wow! How do they do that?

Well, I have a suggestion as to how. Here's my proposal. Why don't you extend the, um, "socialized" medical care you receive as senators to the rest of us? Senators and members of Congress have a very good taxpayer funded medical plan, which is comparable to what ordinary citizens have in France. I have seen the details of your plan. It's exceedingly gold-plated--for the United States, although, of course, it would be entirely normal elsewhere.

This issue is kind of personal for me, actually. A good friend of our family died a few years ago because she had no insurance and could not afford to see a doctor until she got very sick, at which time it was too late to cure the cancer that killed her--which is routinely cured if caught early. She was the sole support of two children. She worked as a waitress. Her excuse for her negligence? She had to put food on the table and come up with the rent for a roof over their heads. Obviously, in retrospect, she should have let them go hungry for a week, and perhaps even gotten herself and her children evicted. That would be the Republican way.

Maybe there's a better way, senator. The system that you and your friends have built (for the rest of us, not for yourselves), sucks. It's time to change it.


Jim McCulloch

No comments: