Friday, 14 August 2009

Debate, American Right Wing Style

I have to admit to being highly amused by the latest attack on the NHS from American right wingers trying to kill Obama's health care plan.
The general feeling among his detractors there is that if Obama gets his way, the American health system will be as bad as the British one and nobody wants that.
While they are saying that, we are saying if the Tories get their way the British health system will be as bad as the American one and nobody wants that.
It seems that we are both pointing at each others as examples of terrible health systems.
As i have never stayed in an American hospital, i couldn't possibly comment on how good or bad the treatment is just as i guess the vast majority of those shouting loudest in America have never been treated in a NHS hospital here. All we both have to go on is what he hear and what i hear about present American Health care is it is fine but you have to pay through the nose for it. What that boils down to, in my mind, is you get the treatment if you can afford it. If you can't then that's tough.
There is a famous scene in Micheal Moore's 'Sicko' film where a patient has to decide which one of his fingers to be reattached to his hand as he can't afford to pay for both.
The UK Government have said that they don't want to get caught up in a domestic fight but they are 'quietly correcting the misinformation about the NHS being put out'. They should be screaming from the rooftops that those slandering the NHS are lying, not quietly correcting it and point to the World Health Organisation league table of Health Systems where the American Health System is ranked 37th, fully 19 places below our own.
What amuses me the most though is the way it is the conservative right screaming Christian values and doctrine one week (abortion and gay marriage) and the following week attacking universal health care, therefore condemning 46 million of their fellow Americans to prolonged suffering because they can't afford health care.
I do find the 'i'm alright and to hell with you if your poor and ill' attitude perplexing but when i hear about death threats to Obama and swastikas being daubed on walls with pictures in the press of of gun toting protesters holding placards with slogans used by white supremest groups, it does make me think that things have taken a crazy, and very scary, turn over there.


Annie said...

Your thinking is accurate, Lucy. The ugly truth is being exposed. Starts with an R.

Cheezy said...

And then an 'E', Annie...?? :) What I'm guessing the media may not be reporting in the US right now (although I could be wrong) is that we also have a fully functioning private health system in the UK too. I don't belong to a private scheme right now, but a while ago I was with BUPA... so those who want to can pay a little extra each month in order to bypass the NHS queues be seen very quickly in a private hospital. (This is especially useful when the treatment you want is elective and not for an acute or dangerous condition)... Whereas those who can't afford this have still got the NHS as a 'backstop'... Now that's what I call 'choice'! (And right wingers are against this? And call our system 'Soviet'? Thanks for your calm and measured assessment, Fox News!). I've got quite a few American friends and from what I hear, they're hoping Obama's plan gets through (and doesn't get watered down beyond recognition, which I think is sadly likely)... PS: Sorry for the lack of paragraphs but I spilt wine on my laptop the other day and the Return key hasn't come back to life :-/

Anonymous said...

Isnt freedom great. Once again we have the right to publically disagree.

lucy, you dont have the whole picture (which i dont expect you to have since you live in another country, but would have expected annie to know). americans, non-americans, and illegal aliens can and do get "free" (they don't ay for it) medical services in the usa.

in the usa we have four medical layers: private, national (medicade and medicare), state, charitible.

each state (not national) provides the services their own way (kinda like each nation in the EU). in texas, county hosptials do not charge for "hardship" cases and there are also free clincs (charity).

the "free" providers do not have "the best" doctors, nurses, and facilities, but they (great, average, or poor) all are licensed by the same process and therefore are all qualified.

the services provided by private and national (medicare and medicade) are close in quality. most americans use private or national health services.

to provide for the state layer i pay about $1,000 each year in property taxes to support my local county hospital, and i pay 8% of my gross income annually via federal income taxes (my employer also matches my tax) for the national layer.

too me our system is overly complex: 4 layers, 1 of them is charity (not as stable), with at least 51 regulators (the feds and 50 states).

This must lead to waste. it must be improvable.

im willing to pay more than my share to help others, but there are limits to how much i'll pay for others and i don't want to deal with the federal goverment red tape or federal government service providers (i dont want the same shitty service we get at the post office, tax office, etc.).


ps - i forgot about the military hospitals. we have lots of veterans hospitals in the usa. two of my uncles were served by them later in life and they were good facilities with good doctors and nurses.

Cheezy said...

In that case, someone should have a quiet word in the President's shell-like ear and tell him that his idea of reforming the system to make health care more accessible to the uninsured is totally unnecessary. It's all been sorted out.

Annie said...

The R word is racism.(The elephant in the room, once again.) It would appear that there are more than a few Americans who do not like the idea of having a black president. Let the "some of my best friends" statements commence.

Lucy said...

I wasn't aware that America had the 4 level system Q. I haven't heard that mentioned anywhere.
In that case then i can only agree with Cheesy and ask what the problem is then if everyone is covered and where does the figure of 45 million people left to rot as they are unable to receive health care come from?

Anonymous said...


the politics are thick. the system can surely be improved. even good systems can be improved. this system isnt efficient, understandable (the billing is a nightmare), or transparent.

Dems have to say things to satisfy their constituents, GOP has to say things to satisfy their constituents.

Dems say Gop are lying, Gop says dems are lying.

instead of working to fix the system the dems & far left are trying to exert their views (government control and redistribution of wealth to fit their views of fair), instead of fixing the system the GOP & far right are trying to exert their views (maximize the opportunity to make money and alledgedly minimize government).


Anonymous said...


im so sick of the word racism that i could puke Puke PUKE...

there are surely still racists in america and always will be... some black, some white, some brown, some red... i'm sure that those that are racist against blacks are using this to attack obama...

i don't happen to know anybody that acts or claims to be racist (even when its just us WASPs alone)... and i live in what the dumbasses of america call KKKland

the hundreds of people that i know that are against the healthcare proposals are against it because they think the government sucks based on the examples i provided above (USPS and IRS) plus the VA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, SEC, etc... I could make a very long list...

they do not oppose because obama has dark skin... they dont care about his skin... but, they dont like the words coming out of his mouth, or nancy (please shut up) pelosi's mouth, or harry (make me vomit) reid's mouth...

go play the race card somewhere else...


Annie said...

I don't buy into your story either, q. Plus,I don't think it's your place to instruct me to 'go' anywhere. You certainly do spread your own strong opinions around on this blog. Which I thought was the point of it.
I read your comments here and typically disagree with them on every level. And that's okay, I somehow manage to cope.
Not everything is racially motivated. I do think that in this instance,race is the underlying issue, and the real reason that some will not accept that he is the president of the United States. I heard a good quote the other day, in regard to those in the news who think that boorish bullying is somehow productive.
'It's our turn to steer.'

effay said...

I don't typically agree with Q's comments, but I think his comment @ 3:25 is very relevant and useful.

As I understand it, to attain non-profit status, hospitals must agree to provide care to the uninsured. In addition to non-profits, there are also public hospitals which are funded by local taxpayers. In fact, only a small percentage of hospitals are actually for-profit (<20%). (Although, it is true that non-profit hospitals have tricky ways of making a profit while still being "non-profit.")

While I have been insured for my whole life, I have at times (for complicated and irrelevant reasons) been treated at hospitals and clinics without using my insurance. None of these were for serious health issues, but I never felt like the charity care was really lacking.

In terms of serious health issues, my only reference is my aunt who was uninsured and treated at a public hospital in Dallas for cancer for many years. She received perfectly adequate care, including many rounds of chemo, inpatient care, outpatient care, and, at the end, in-home hospice. I am quite certain the totality of her care cost the hospital over $100,000, but she did not pay a single penny. And the care she got could have been had by anyone else in her condition.

I think the point of all this that counting the uninsured is misleading. The issue is those who can't receive adequate care at all.

That being said, my opinion is that the system could benefit from reform rather than overhaul.

For instance, the US now subsidizes drug prices in countries with price controls on drugs like Canada. Say a drug costs $100, but Canada tells the drug company it can only charge $50, so the drug company complies and raises the price to $150 in America to make up the difference. If the US allowed importation of drugs, Americans would buy them from Canada for $50 and the drug company would stop selling it to Canadians until they floated their prices. Eventually everyone would pay the market price.

Also, many (dare I say most?) illnesses should be dealt with by nurses rather than doctors. Do I really need a doctor to prescribe me cough medicine, or allergy medicine? No, I'd rather pay a nurse half as much to do it.

There are many other things I would discuss, but I think there should be a limit on comment length.

Lucy said...

I'm confused by this. There was a woman on TV this morning repeating again that there are 45m Americans who have no health care insurance and so cannot receive treatment if they fall ill.
From what Q and effay have said here, that's not true, they can.
So if everyone is covered, what is the problem?

Anonymous said...


i must appologize. the words i typed did not convery my meaning. i wouldn't attempt to block you from my blog just for disagreeing with me, much less attempt to drive you away from someone else's blog...

what i should have typed is "the racism card is crap in the majority of situtations and that your position that this is racism carries zero weight with me".

sorry for the poorly written statement.


Anonymous said...


i agree with you, for "some" americans, race is the issue. stupid but true.

since we agree on this point, some questions come to my mind:

how many are against health care reform because obama is black? i dont know any, and i live in KKKville, but i don't interact with low income rednecks. luckily for america, there aren't that many low income racist rednecks anymore, and they are declining.

how many blacks support health care reform just because obama is black? a form of racism!


Nog said...

"What amuses me the most though is the way it is the conservative right screaming Christian values and doctrine one week (abortion and gay marriage) and the following week attacking universal health care, therefore condemning 46 million of their fellow Americans to prolonged suffering because they can't afford health care."

I don't know what you're calling the "Religious Right", but a lot of the mainline conservative denomination's clergy are for Government-run health stuff, just as long as it doesn't fund abortion.

And unfortunately for you Brits, you'll always be backwards pretentious-sounding aristocracy-loving monarchists to those of us on this side of the lake. The American rhetorical "Appeal to Britain" is something akin to the Nazi defense on a lot of issues. Y'all's NHS shouldn't take it to personally.


Lucy said...

I picked on the religious right because the banners i saw were about it being against God and it seems to be the religious right doing the majority of the fundraising and campaigning.

I would say that there are more monarchy lovers than haters here but the aristocracy fell out of favour a long time ago.
Not sure what the Nazi defence or backwards means though. Backwards looking? Old fashioned? Behind the curve?

Cheezy said...

"Y'all's NHS shouldn't take it to personally."

I don't think it's a question of taking it personally, mate. From my own perspective, I'm very friendly with lots of Americans... so, if I hear them being lied to, then - if I know something about the issue at hand - I'm more than happy to correct these lies to help them out.

Anonymous said...


about the whole "lies" thing. That is what Nog, Effay, Annie, and I do as well. Have you noticed that there appear to be many "truths"...


Cheezy said...

I have indeed. We all have our viewpoints. And vive la difference!

But then again, we don't live in a namby-pamby post-modernist world of total subjectivity now, do we? Not all men are created equal and not all viewpoints are of equal worth. Nor, indeed, are they all factually correct.

And it's the factually incorrect statements (e.g. Stephen Hawking is not British; the NHS features "death panels") that were the ones I was correcting.

Lucy said...

I did have to laugh when i read the Stephen Hawking thing. Easily my highlight of this UK v US health system argument.
I have actually learnt a lot about the Health System in America from this post but then i hold my hands up and admit that i didn't know much to start with as i admitted.

Annie said...

It's (the healthcare debacle) all making me sick. Pun intended.

Anonymous said...

it is an overly complex system. i think it is overly complex because it is relatively young thinking that "health care is a right".

1. in 1900 everybody got bad "health care".
2. by 1950 a gap started between peoples of different incomes.
3. in response to the gaps:
-- cities and co-ops emerged
-- states got involved
-- health insurance emerged
-- LBJ got the fed involved
-- charities filled in gaps
-- universities stepped up with medical centers
-- even chruchs got involved... the Methodist and Baptist (Baylor Medical Center) medical centers are some of the best health care providers in the world

now it is a mess and therefore is an opportunity for improvement and politics... the left wants the fed to run the show, the right wants the fed to play a smaller role.. water is wet, sky is blue, politics is politics