Tuesday, July 10, 2007

An Open Letter to Paul Krugman

An open response to Paul Krugman on his latest column regarding health care from July 9, 2007

Mr. Krugman,
It's perfectly reasonable to have a debate about health care and to discuss the pro's and con's of health care provided by the public sector (government) and the private sector (insurance companies/HMO's). However, your recent column does neither.

First, you grossly mischaracterized the discussion on Neil Cavuto's show ("discussed how health care promotes terrorism"), which was about the necessary importing of foreign doctors due to the lack of native ones (mainly due to the effects of socialized medicine).

Second, you claim that the medical-industrial complex and their allies have " used scare tactics to prevent America from following its conscience". Fair enough. But isn't this the exact same technique used by liberals to protest numerous policies from Supreme Court nominations "Robert Bork's America would be marked by back alley abortions" to welfare reform "children begging for money, children begging for food, eight- and nine-year-old prostitutes" and "legislative child abuse" to global warming "This is treason. And we need to start treating them as traitors." and "Let's just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers," Hmm, I have yet to see you call out any of those people for their "scare tactics". In any case, it's quite disturbing to see that you resort to the same techniques I mentioned above by questioning the values and morals of anyone who doesn't believe in universal health care.

Also, you cite an example from Sicko "a child who dies because an emergency room that isn’t a participant in her mother’s health plan won’t treat her" but you don't give any of the background info regarding it. The child in question, Mychelle Williams, did not receive the proper tests for Sepsis at the 1st hospital she was taken to, Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center, and this was the eventual cause of death (not being treated quickly enough). The hospital, which is government run--coincidentally (actually not coincidentally), was found at fault along with the 2nd hospital the child was eventually transported to. The insurance company was not involved in denying treatment or care for the child at any point. The fact that the doctor at the hospital did NOT perform necessary and immediate tests to fully determine the child's condition (despite words from a doctor at a Kaiser hospital advising to wait on the tests). Also, note that the 2 hospitals were found liable in the suit; nowhere was the Kaiser insurance plan found negligent. I figured someone of your standing would have properly reserached the examples Moore provides in the film before throwing them in the film. Of course, seeing as how you have done this exact same thing in previous columns (including citing a 98% voter turnout rate for one county in Ohio from a clearly flawed Congressional report when the actual number - 72% - was easily available online at the county's website) I guess I shouldn't be suprised.

Later you say "Medicare — which did enormous good, without leading to a dictatorship". Surely Medicare has helped out older individuals, but I guess you missed the current Comptroller of the US on 60 minutes Sunday "By that I mean that the Medicare problem is five times greater than the Social Security problem." and "With one stroke of the pen, Walker says, the federal government increased existing Medicare obligations nearly 40 percent over the next 75 years."

Then you go on to claim that "Meanwhile, every available indicator says that in terms of quality, access to needed care and health outcomes, the U.S. health care system does worse, not better, than other advanced countries". Again, this simply isn't true. Cuba was ranked 39th in the 2000 WHO survey. Yet, Moore gleefully takes people there to get treatement even though Cuba is ranked behind the US (37th). Also, the Commonwealth Fund did a study which found that the US ranked ahead of Canada in several measures including % of patients who waited 4+ hours to be seen in an emergency room (24%-Canada, 12%-US); % who waited 4 weeks or longer to see a specialist (57%-Canada, 23%-US). While the emergency room times with Britain were comparable with those of the US, the % who had to wait 4+ weeks for a specialist were much higher (60%) in Britain than in the US (23%). So your claim that the US does worse in "every available indicator" than other countries, simply isn't true.

Finally, your claim that "..the French manage to provide arguably the best health care in the world," is where you lose all credibility. Did you not see/hear/read about the Heat Wave which killed nearly 15,000 people in France, during the same time (coincidentally--well, not really) when many doctors, nurses, and other health personnel were on their mandated vacations. Please explain how the "..best health care in the world" lets nearly 15,000 of its citizens die due to a completeyl normal occurence (as compared to a disease or viriological outbreak). Lastly, your reasoning that it is purely fear and scare tactics which are arguing against socialized medicine is disingenuous and pretty much a common tactic on the left. Again, you (just as many other liberals do), have managed to use purely emotion (while citing very minimal statistical or factual or numerical evidence) to declare, ipso facto, that socialized medicine is the answer and those who are opposed to it are mean, immortal, and scaring people. Hmmm, where have heard this recently. Oh yes, the immigration debate.


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