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Healthcare: Healing a nation

POSTED: March 29, 2007 5:13 a.m.
Healthcare reformation is one of the most challenging crises facing our nation; yet the partisanship and bickering on both sides of the aisle is getting us nowhere.
According to the Census Bureau’s most recent population survey, about 43.6 million people were uninsured.
Trauma centers are closing with patients unable to pay the unaffordable costs of emergency care. Obstetricians are dropping like flies with the burdensome costs of malpractice insurance. The uninsured of our society, including too many of our nation’s children, are escalating in proportions to scary to even comprehend.
Now the Georgia Peachcare program has declared it can take no more. What of the children who need healthcare and their parent’s who are uninsured, underemployed, disabled, or otherwise incapacitated can not afford the exorbitant premiums for private health care insurance?
Are there any “free clinics” or “faith-based” initiatives that can step up to the plate and help out while we try to solve this crisis? Some would suggest and have suggested health care is a “personal responsibility” issue and not one in which resides or ever should reside in the state or federal government’s purview to address.
The old saying goes “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Well folks, our health care system is obviously “broke;" yet the political parties can not seem to fix it. It makes one wonder how anything ever gets done in Washington.
As an Army dependent, I never worried one minute about my health care needs.  The U.S. Army provided promptly any services necessary to get me back on my feet. I never complained — there simply was nothing to complain about. The military takes care of its own and the system was well funded to meet the mission goals.
The doctors I encountered are well educated, prompt, courteous, and above all efficient. They have to be — it is their mission.  
The availability of pharmaceutical treatments was never an issue, as some have suggested recently. Sometimes standing in line was. There are numerous soldiers and family members requiring health care services.
Now Walter Reed Army hospital is engulfed in controversy, as deficiencies are being noted in the facility that was slated for closure: code words for “no more funding.” Many generals are being fired in response. Who is really to blame for inadequate healthcare for our soldiers?  
“Politicians” is the answer that comes directly to mind?
The commander-in-chief, when not writing executive orders, is tasked to prepare the fiscal budget for this nation. Congress is then tasked to authorize the spending.  These two branches of government are responsible for the conditions at Walter Reed hospital, in my opinion, as the military completes the mission tasked with whatever resources it has been provided to do so. When they are told to “make do” with what they have, that is exactly what they do. Walter Reed is what happens when the politicians are in charge.     
When put in the hot seat, these politicians are the first to point fingers in every direction to avoid detection? Do you really think that Army generals do not care about the soldiers “under their care?” Generals follow orders just like any another soldier.  
Politicians set the tone with their constraints on accomplishing the mission. They cry out, “Get the job done, but don’t ask us for money to do it!”
“Improvise, adapt and overcome” is the Army motto. Our soldiers do it everyday.  Why can the politicians in charge not do the same thing — fix the healthcare system?  
When my husband became disabled, we were uninsured for several years before entering into the Veterans Administration system (paperwork, you know!) We simply could not afford the preposterous monthly health care premiums, as we were just starting out in civilian life. It was the most exasperating time of our lives, trying to make ends meet and worrying about doctor bills.
We waited long stints before appointments, and we did complain bitterly. After all, civilian doctors were getting paid our hard-earned dollars and seemed arrogantly nonchalant about their unavailability to meet our immediate health care needs promptly. The transition to the civilian health care system was indeed a shock to our system.
When we finally completed the process and entered into the VA system “all was right with the world again.”
Medical services once again were delivered in the prompt manner with high ethical standards as we were accustomed to. Many do not receive the prompt care my husband was afforded as the system consists of “ratings and priorities” depending on your service-connected disabilities and severity thereof. My husband, who is rated 100 percent disabled, was always at the head of the line, so we had nothing to complain about.
The veterans system was very responsive to his needs —  once we got into the system. A lack of pharmaceutical treatments was never an issue: brown paper bags and, on occasion, cardboard boxes were used to carry out the doctor’s orders. If a certain drug was not available on the formulary list, the doctor prescribing the medicine simply special ordered it. The only drawback to the VA medical system was the scarcity of hospitals, requiring lengthy drives; but it sure beats being uninsured.
If I were a queen for the day, all health care or “healing” as I like to refer to it would be absolutely free — to a degree. Of course, there would be costs involved, but that would be adjusted to the individual’s personal assets or net income — a sliding scale if you will.
Another approach that works to some efficiency in European countries is where all medicinal healing is socialized. I have had many foreign national friends during my travels who participated in this “healing” system and complimented the availability of proficient doctors and “cutting edge” technologies.  
It does not benefit a country to have its workers unavailable and out of work due to illness and injury, not to mention, disease transmission issues. How will children get an education if they are not well? Either plan would necessitate the ugly word: “taxes,” which I must concede will be higher; but the benefits far outweigh the increase.  The costs to our society have not been properly calculated in terms of societal illness and unproductive citizenry due to personal illness. A healthy society is a better equipped society to deal with the many challenges that we are facing in a highly competitive global economy
There are many responsibilities the federal government is equipped to perform which benefits the public at large that can not be effectively served in a capitalistic market such as the infrastructure of building interstate roads and maintaining an effective Army. Capitalism is not a cure all for meeting our health care needs. The results are in and many are going without. What are the costs of those realities to our nation?
The concept of healing and profit are not compatible venues, and in my opinion, borders on immoral philosophies. To charge someone for an act of healing no longer becomes an act of charity and goodwill.  Money and greed pervasively take over, thus, changing the dynamics of the nobility of healers and the inherent function they serve in our society.  
Healing becomes a monstrous industry focused on financial reports, bottom lines and demanding shareholders’ profit margins. Where is the charity and nobility in that philosophy? I do not remember anything in the Hippocratic Oath that demands a healer make a profit!
We should look to our federal government for health care to serve the entire populous of our nation. The federal government can do it and should. If it’s broke and the market place can’t fix it, then the government needs to step in and serve its people. It is their duty and mission to do so.

Post a comment on Bezanson’s blogs at in the Community section of www.coastalcourier.com or email columnist@coastalcourier.com
 

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