God's Politics

God's Politics


Ryan Rodrick Beiler: Discerning Documentary Dogma

posted by God's Politics

I’ve seen two powerful documentaries over the past week: Michael Moore’s new film Sicko, and the lesser-known Manufactured Landscapes. Both films are intensely political, but the contrast in their approach is striking.
Moore, as usual, is on a crusade. The healthcare system in the U.S. is broken, and we get to see many of the shattered pieces, up close and very personal. To our national shame, we also get to see what a great job the Canadians, Brits, French, and even Cubans are doing.
As with most of Moore’s films, his agenda is obvious and immediate. We are presented with a mountain of evidence—some quantitative, much anecdotal—as to why some form of socialized healthcare would be better than what we have now. No dissenting views are presented, and Moore pretty much tells us what to think. And I find myself agreeing with much of what he says. (For example, when was the last time you heard anyone complain about socialized fire departments?)
However, I think he’d greatly increase his credibility if he interviewed at least one Canadian who has some complaints about their system, one Brit who fell through the cracks, one French person who thinks the taxes that pay for their system are too high. We shouldn’t expect any system to be perfect—just way way better than one that creates financial incentives to deny care to those who most need it. But instead we have interviews with Che Guevara’s daughter, extolling Cuba’s virtues. I’m sorry, but I do not think this is an effective strategy for convincing doubtful Americans that government-funded healthcare is the way to go. But as with Moore’s other films, there’s plenty of entertaining red meat for his left-leaning fans.
Contrast Moore’s approach with that of director Jennifer Baichwal, whose Manufactured Landscapes, takes us to scenes of intense environmental and social devastation caused by unrestrained economic development—and simply shows them to us. Monochromatic Chinese factories, grounded oil tankers being scrapped in Bangladesh, the vast scars of open mines. Enough context is provided to explain what you’re seeing, but the relative lack of narration is as refreshing as the scenes are stunning. The film chronicles the work of Edward Burtynsky, whose large-format still photographs capture these transformed landscapes in all of their horrible beauty. One leaves the theater in a meditative state, contemplating the origins of one’s possessions, rather than chattering about the relative merits of HMOs versus state-run healthcare.
I’m not sure it’s necessary to debate which approach is better. One states its bias clearly, rather than pretending to be fair and balanced, energizing activists and alienating opponents. The more subtle approach lacks the rabble-rousing populism that Moore employs, but at the same time might be an easier film to convince your nature-loving conservative cousin to see.
Ryan Rodrick Beiler is the web editor for Sojourners/Call to Renewal.



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Ralph

posted July 20, 2007 at 6:49 pm


national health service (NHS) in UK is broken beyond repair, the quality of service is really terrible, and any one who can afford it gets private insurance, and/or goes abroad for treatment.



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Jeff

posted July 20, 2007 at 7:42 pm


My next door neighbors parents live in Canada. Her mother has been sick and it has been a nightmare. She had to travel 3hours to see a specialist and then wait all day to get in. My neighbor is a doctor himself and said there were tests that should have been done but aren’t done there because of their system. This older lady was not getting care anywhere near what anyone would get here.
Jeff



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canucklehead

posted July 20, 2007 at 7:54 pm


Jeff – I live in Canada. One or two bad stories does not a definitive case make. Our system is certainly not problem free. Nevertheless, I’ve lived on both sides of the 49th parallel and have never seen young couples and families here completely wiped out by medical bills like I witnessed in the U.S. A close friend in Chicago just finished two years of intensive bone marrow therapy w/ their daughter. As he said, “if it wasn’t for mom and dad, we’d be homeless and bankrupt.”
You’ll find complainants anywhere if you hang around long enough – WalMart, McDonalds, the White House, the Capitol.
When it comes to health care, everyone is convinced they should be treated first. There’s no system in the world that can accomodate that.



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bren

posted July 20, 2007 at 9:17 pm


Canadians may complain about long wait times, but we all say a variation of: thank God, I get the treatment I need without having to pay for it.
Yes, we are short of health care workers (no planning done by the provinces!). And yes, we pay indirectly through taxes and through premiums to the provincial health care system–which is under $100 a month–and much less (or nothing) if you are poor, but we get the health care and the surgery we need without anyone asking first (or at the end) to be paid. That allows us to focus on regaining our health, without EVER having to think of, let alone become anxious about, possible bankruptcy due to medical bills. No wonder Michael Moore likes the Canadian system! No one here ever has to choose which of two cut fingers should be reattached. No one anywhere should be forced to make that choice!



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l'etranger

posted July 20, 2007 at 10:15 pm


national health service (NHS) in UK is broken beyond repair, the quality of service is really terrible, and any one who can afford it gets private insurance, and/or goes abroad for treatment.
Straightforwardly not true. Worse, by attacking quality of care rather than systemic issues (as Moore does with the US system) this is not an attack on the system but on the providers of care. Try actually looking at some facts rather than believing the Daily Mail’s usual pack of lies.
Broken beyond repair is nonsense, in fact in a recent international comparative study by the prestigious Commonwealth Fund the NHS was rated first when compared with the US, Australian, German, Canadian and New Zealand health systems. http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/publications_show.htm?doc_id=482678
The levels of satisfaction recorded by the annual survey of NHS patients – the largest in the world by the way with about 250,000 respondents, shows exceptionally high rates of satisfaction – typically 90% of respondents rating specific aspects of care good or excellent.
http://www.healthcarecommission.org.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases.cfm/cit_id/5457/FAArea1/customWidgets.content_view_1/usecache/false
Anyone who can afford it has private insurance. Rubbish. 13% of the populace have private insurance, normally always provided as a work perk rather than bought privately. A lot more people could afford it than that, as programs start at around 20 pounds a month. Private insurance was only ever used to get round long waiting lists, and as these have fallen the private health care sector has started to panic about lost business, which is why it is so keen to bid to do simple cases for the NHS. Compared like with like, the quality of the private sector is often worse than the NHS, with the NHS having to pick up the private sector’s foul-ups.
Very few patients have gone abroad for care. In fact, the NHS has had much less of an outflow than it was expecting following the EU ruling that it would have to pay for care for patients who wanted treatment on the continent.
So in future try and get your facts right before you slander 1.3 million hard working and committed people working for the NHS.



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bren

posted July 20, 2007 at 11:15 pm


Here is a statement I found really interesting: “The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not have health care as a right of citizenship.” If education can be a right of citizenship, why not health care?



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Philana Crouch

posted July 20, 2007 at 11:30 pm


I agree with Bren’s statement. I am a grad student, and do not have medical insurance. I needed some medication for something and it was very expensive, and that was with the student break. We need a way to make health care free. The solution to long waits, train more medical doctors, nurses ect. My family was almost wiped out from a medical crisis.



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Philana

posted July 20, 2007 at 11:31 pm


I agree with Bren’s statement. I am a grad student, and do not have medical insurance. I needed some medication for something and it was very expensive, and that was with the student break. We need a way to make health care free. The solution to long waits, train more medical doctors, nurses ect. My family was almost wiped out from a medical crisis.



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kevin s.

posted July 20, 2007 at 11:48 pm


Good article. I’m not sure I agree that Michael Moore would be more effective by presenting both sides. Presenting both sides reminds people of why we don’t want nationalized health care in the first place.
“I agree with Bren’s statement. I am a grad student, and do not have medical insurance”
Why should my taxes pay for health insurance for grad students? You made the choice to go to grad school and made the choice not to have health insurance. Why is it my responsibility to subsidize a choice that will pay off for you down the road? Perhaps a better option would be to offer a loan for health care that can be repaid?
“The solution to long waits, train more medical doctors, nurses ect.”
I don’t think this is the problem. The problem is that government must find a way to ration health care one way or the other.
“Worse, by attacking quality of care rather than systemic issues (as Moore does with the US system) this is not an attack on the system but on the providers of care.”
Are you arguing that systemic issues and quality of care are not related?
“Anyone who can afford it has private insurance. Rubbish. 13% of the populace have private insurance, normally always provided as a work perk rather than bought privately. ”
I don’t know that your statistic counters the argument. One in every seven people is a lot. How many people could reasonably afford private insurance? Say it’s 25%. That would mean that the majority of people who have the means opt for private insurance. Why is it such a common work perk?



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ginab

posted July 21, 2007 at 12:16 am


Why should my taxes pay for a fire department to put out a fire in your house caused by your poor wiring?
Why should my taxes pay for police to protect you? I carry my own weapons and protect my own.
Why should my taxes pay for food for poor children whose parents choose not to educate themselves and make a better life for their families? Or care for sick children with the same irresponsible parents?
Why should I be my brother’s keeper when I don’t agree with his choices?
Why do I see this issue as one of the places where conservatism takes a sharp right away from Christianity?
gina b



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kevin s.

posted July 21, 2007 at 1:21 am


“Why should my taxes pay for a fire department to put out a fire in your house caused by your poor wiring?”
I don’t think they should. That is why cities require licenced inspectors to fix electrical issues.
“Why should my taxes pay for police to protect you? I carry my own weapons and protect my own.”
Because, as a nation with a common set of laws, we need a common set of enforcers for those laws.
“Why should my taxes pay for food for poor children whose parents choose not to educate themselves and make a better life for their families?”
Because children have not made the choice in this matter. Nobody holds a gun to your head and says “get a PhD”. It isn’t a life choice foisted upon one by irresponsible parents.
“Or care for sick children with the same irresponsible parents?”
I think you’ve imploded your own point here. If you conflate providing health care for children with providing health care for a PhD student, then, by the same logic, you must also conflate feeding children with feeding PhD students.
Obviously (I hope) you are not suggesting that taxpayers feed PhD students, so we have established the fact that we may accept some entitlements without accepting all of them.
“Why do I see this issue as one of the places where conservatism takes a sharp right away from Christianity?”
Probably because you disagree with conservatives (and, from what I can gather, moderates) on the issue.



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bren

posted July 21, 2007 at 3:34 am


Kevin S, I think you’re missing the point. Your taxes should pay for my health care for the same reasons that my taxes should pay for yours. You don’t get a choice about whether your taxes pay for there to be police and fire-fighting forces; that’s because there is an assumption that all cities and towns deserve to be protected. Your taxes pay fo the military. Similarly, we believe that all people have a right to an education and so, our taxes go to pay for that as well. So the question isn’t why should your taxes go towards paying for my health care but rather, why shouldn’t it? Shouldn’t everyone be entitled to health care? In Canada, the answer to that question is a resounding YES–from conservatives and liberals and unattached politicos alike.
Also, if you think that your health insurance covers the cost of your health care, think again. Your taxes have contributed to the education of doctors and nurses and paramedics, for infrastructure, for the FDA, for the Chief Medical Officer (whose true title I can’t recall) and so on.



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kevin s.

posted July 21, 2007 at 11:45 am


The question is whether everyone is entitled to free healthcare. The next question is whether a government operated system is going to ensure that, without limiting my right to access the health care that I currently enjoy. As the French about their right to healthcare after a heat wave.
The most compelling argument for nationalized healthcare, in my view, is that we have a de facto taxpayer system by way of employee benefits. We have little choice, the benefit is deducted from our paycheck (either directly or indirectly). It has become so ubiquitous that it functions as a tax.
As such, the transition to governmental health care will be simply the broader application of the system that is currently in place. Therefore, nationalized (or governmentalized) health care simply fills in gaps.
However, the nightmare that is our public education system should serve as a warning about how we should proceed with national healthcare. Public education fails, we wind up ignorant. Public health fails, we die. The idea of transitioning the responsibility for apllying benefits from qualified insurance professionals to unionized governmental bureaucrats is unappealing, to say the least.
The best approach is to seamlessly transition the system in a manner that makes use of the wealth of experience our private insurance companies provide. But that can’t happen when we talk breathlessly about health care being a right, and it certainly won’t happen if we hold up Cuba (for crying out loud) as a model.



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M North

posted July 21, 2007 at 12:47 pm


Our company, like many others, outsourced and offshored more than half the workforce. For those that remained, pensions and healthcare benefits were drastically reduced, and employee contributions increased by 50%.
Then I too was laid off. The premiums to continue the insurance under COBRA were about $15,000 per year for a family. Unemployment insurance didn’t cover even cost of health insurance. Then COBRA participation terminated.
Private insurance was effectively unavailable – the only work available was temporary, paid much less (75% pay cut) and had no benefits. I, my wife and 3 children have had no health insurance and had no medical or dental care for a year and a half. Health insurance would have consumed about 80% of net income.
Recently I was in a bicycle accident and suffered a shoulder separation. No medical intervention was made for the $10,000 plus is a kind of Hobson’s Choice – or, is that “Dobson’s” Choice? :-)
We simply exist the way the pioneers did, now, without any safety net whatsoever, and depend upon God. Can we depend upon our fellow Christians should we need to do so?
Actually, I think not. Even Marvin Olasky, its creator, has declared “compassionate conservatism” dead. And we know Christians are identified almost completely with conservatism and have become an obstacle to change rather than salt and light.
I’m one, too, and for low taxes and small government. But if we’re spending a trillion on warfare, when it seems other nations don’t have to, then suddenly the choice isn’t between conservatism and liberalism at all, is it?
And who cares for all those wounded veterans? Apparently, they’re on their own, too, discarded in favor of those elites who’ve positioned themselves very well for profits at government expense. It seems a Humvee costs many times the mythical “welfare Cadillac” … :-)



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Wolverine

posted July 21, 2007 at 12:59 pm


Gina B,
With the exception of nationalized health care, every other position you attribute to “conservatives” is in fact rejected by conservatives. Even among libertarians, those who put the highest emphasis on rugged individualism, there are few who would support what you describe.
Now, maybe this was just a rant. We all go off on these from time to time, so no big deal. But if you want a constructive conversation, it might help if you turned the bile off for a while.
Wolverine



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canucklehead

posted July 21, 2007 at 4:03 pm


There is no such thing as free health care anywhere – not in Canada, not in the U.K. and not in the U.S.A. Taxpayers inevitably pay for it somehow, somewhere.
Accordingly, the real question is, what are U.S. taxpayers currently paying for that might better be spent on universal health care for Americans?
I’m open to suggestions.



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Mick Sheldon

posted July 21, 2007 at 8:53 pm


gina b
You made a great point of why I should pay taxes for socialized medicine , if nothing elese to pay for your medication .
Calm down , this is a needed debate . The editorialist brought up a great aspect of it that is missing , to realize the down falls of socialoized medicine . No system is perfect ?
If we adopt a governmental system , we will want to try to eliminate those down falls from our system that other have right ? . And if it does not , won’t all of us want to try to address the issue of kids having no medical help for teeth and basic care .



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Eric

posted July 22, 2007 at 5:03 pm


I thought Ryan wrote a post asking which style of documentary was more effective, not a post asking whether or not socialized medicine was a good idea… Why don’t we stay on topic here.
I haven’t seen either of the documentaries but Baichwal’s sounds a lot more effective from the way the two are described. Moore’s schtick is to take an issue, show the most egregious examples that “show” why he’s right, often times throwing in hyperbole, lies, misquotes, and spliced footage that makes it look like one thing is happening when it’s not. Worst of all, in his latest effort he sucks up to and swallows the propaganda of a brutal dictator. What’s also embarrassing is this type of thing is eaten up by advocates of socialized medicine and Moore gets awards.
Baichwal’s work, from Ryan’s account, doesn’t sound like it can be argued with. It’s simply photographs and videos of man’s actions. While it may not tell the other side of the story, if there is one, the facts she presents are true. Much of what man has done to the planet has defaced it. Some of it might have been worth it for the benefits we’ve gained, but you can’t say we couldn’t have gone down a different path.



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maria

posted July 22, 2007 at 5:37 pm


When the President of the SEIU (Service Employees Int’l Union) stands on stages with the CEO of Walmart and they both agree that Universal healthcare needs to be discussed (this is different than single payer healthcare) and when the very conservative CEO of Safeway supermarkets says that Universal healthcare is a good option- its hard to disagree that we need to have a national debate on this (remember debates, not slandering, putdowns, but discourse!).
And we are ALL paying for the uninsured- next time you have an ER visit- get an itemized bill- yeah, $14 for an ibuprofen.et.
This issue has moved from a “liberal only” one and now Wall Street is starting to see that the system is broken!!!!
If only the Prez would wake up- last week he said “We have great healthcare, you can walk into any ER and get treated” LOL!!!



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neuro_nurse

posted July 22, 2007 at 6:23 pm


“the real question is, what are U.S. taxpayers currently paying for that might better be spent on universal health care for Americans?”
Ah, Canadian humor!
Let me tell you a little secret: we already have universal health care (except in post-Katrina New Orleans where the reopening of Charity Hospital has been blocked by LSU and the “good ol’ boy” system). The problem is that we are treating the end-stages of chronic illnesses rather than preventing them.
I would argue that preventative medicine is less expensive than treating end-stage disease, but according to a cigarette industry study, cigarette smoking decreases individual health care costs.
Why?
As for training new nurses; the schools of nursing can’t keep up with replacing the nurses who are leaving the profession – and those, like me, who can’t wait to leave before I get sued, lose my license, or permanently injured.
Seek peace and pursue it.



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Kevin Wayne

posted July 22, 2007 at 7:14 pm


Great argument, regarding the issue of why should taxes not pay for someone’s healthcare, when we alrerady pay for the police, fire, millitary etc. Kevin S. as per usual danced around the issue, but the real question is: why do we always think “my taxes” shouldn’t go to help others in need but are more than willing to waste $8-12 Billion on a war overseas that we has no buisness getting into? :)



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Eric

posted July 22, 2007 at 7:55 pm


Ugh…getting drawn in…
Maria – Because some big business CEOs support universal health care doesn’t make it a good idea. They support the idea because it would remove the burden of providing their employees health care and place it on someone else. It makes for good business.
In my mind, it all depends on how “universal health care” is implemented. If we’re talking about a system where the government sets prices, employs doctors, nurses, etc, and essentially makes health care “free” for everyone, then I say it’s a bad idea. There’s unlimited demand for free stuff and the system will be poorly maintained because there’s no incentive to be thrifty. Don’t buy Moore’s crap that everything is hunky dorry in Canada and Europe.
If by “universal coverage” you mean making sure that everyone has health insurance bought on the private market, I’m for it. I have no problem with my tax dollars being spent to help low to middle income Americans buy health insurance. At least this way you’re still letting the market set supply and demand for different procedures.



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Maria

posted July 22, 2007 at 11:58 pm


Eric-
I would never say that if a CEO endorses something then it’s good (Enron or Tyco anyone?)I’m just saying the paradigm is shifting and it’s not just the “granola” types who are advocating this. I’m just saying it’s time for a discussion on this. Sadly- Politics as become so polarized on both sides I truely cannot see both sides sitting down and hashing this out.
I saw Sicko a few weeks ago. I though Moore made some valid points. However, he painted a VERY rosy picture of other systems. I would have liked to have seen some middle ground but hey, it’s HIS movie and he’s not writing a Thesis, merely giving his point of view. Moore did use some quantative data but like this author says relied on a lot of antecotal evidence as Beiler says above.I personally like Moore and enjoy his films but think he can be very polarizing.
Eric (and maybe I’m wrong), I think what it sounds like you may advocate is what Romney implemented in MA. I’m interested myself to see how the mandatory insurance in MA. will work out.
Do I know the answers- HECK NO! I just know there is a problem and many people are affected. I also think it’s time to start looking at solutions. I was stunned when I heard the CEO of Walmart was EVEN on stage with a union rep. I just think if those guys can put aside their partisan differences to address this, why can’t we?



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canucklehead

posted July 23, 2007 at 1:29 am


Yesterday – Saturday, I woke up with my right eye almost swollen shut and quite painful from some kind of infection. My wife, a nurse, resisted my claims that I would wait until Monday to go see our family doctor, saying I needed it looked at asap.
About 10 am, I called what we call Health Link to advise them of my situation. They asked where I lived and said they would have one of their covering clinics call me w/i an hour with an appt time. I received that call at about 10:55 a.m, asking if I could be there in about 20 minutes.
By noon I was at the drugstore and shortly thereafter home with antibiotics and eye drops.
Not bad, I’d say, for something that is not life-threatening. Again, as I mentioned before, one story does not a fair sample group make, but you can toss it in the mix for the next time you hear somebody bemoaning the state of health care in Canada.



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kevin s.

posted July 23, 2007 at 10:07 am


“Again, as I mentioned before, one story does not a fair sample group make, but you can toss it in the mix for the next time you hear somebody bemoaning the state of health care in Canada.”
I have had the same experience with my insurance provider. They have been downright uppity to get me to urgent care.
I think the broader point is that painting Canada as a Panacea distorts reality. I have no doubt that the Canadian system works fine for most, as does America’s.
I do think a Canadian-style system would face particular challenges in America, and we cannot have a discussion about what those are if we are exalting Cuba (CUBA!) as a healthcare model and France as something close to heaven.
When a heat wave hit France, nearly 15,000 people died. The French government blamed it on a widespread failure among agencies to coordinate efforts.
Throw whatever talking point you like at that, but it is clear that there is a price for nationalized health care that goes beyond monetary costs. In most cases, the exchange seems to be lesser care for the elderly and infirm in exchange for eyedrops by noon for the rest.
Maybe that’s the way to do it. I’m open to that idea. But simply pining for Pollyanna isn’t going to get us anywhere.



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Moderatelad

posted July 23, 2007 at 10:32 am


I wonder if those that promote Nationalize Healthcare realize that when it would become real – they just lost their ability to sue for damages, real or percived.
Why not eatablish both systems. National Healthcare for those who do not have coverage or the 40-55% that elect not to pay for coverage but could afford it. They would have their own doctors, hospital and clinics to go to for care. Those that have private coverage would have their doctors, hospotals and clinics. That would work.
Have a great day
.



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kevin s.

posted July 23, 2007 at 10:44 am


“I wonder if those that promote Nationalize Healthcare realize that when it would become real – they just lost their ability to sue for damages, real or percived.”
Not if John Edwards has anything to say about it. The money will just come out of our pockets instead.



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Moderatelad

posted July 23, 2007 at 12:31 pm


Posted by: kevin s. | July 23, 2007 10:44 AM
you just might be correct – HELP!
Have a great day!
.



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neuro_nurse

posted July 23, 2007 at 1:01 pm


“…they just lost their ability to sue for damages, real or percived.”
…and that would be a bad thing?
I know neurosurgeons that left their practices because they could not afford malpractice insurance. Theses are guys who had never been sued.
Neurosurgery and obstetrics are two high-liability areas of practice.
One of the reasons I want to get out of bedside nursing is my fear of being sued. I came close one time simply by my proximity to someone else’s failure through ignorance.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons for the high cost of health care in the U.S. – we are a very litigious society.
Seek peace and pursue it.



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moderatelad

posted July 23, 2007 at 1:37 pm


Posted by: neuro_nurse | July 23, 2007 1:01 PM
This is why I believe that we should have reform so that you could only sue if you could prove that the Dr. was intentional in their harm or incompitant. Take two asprins and call me in the morning does not work the same for everyone. It is a medical practice not a science.
Get rid of the lawyers and allow people to, on the average, die three months prior than they do currectly. (and I do not want to hire Dr. Jack!) From what I have been able to find is that we could say somewhere between 35 to 50% plus on our health care costs.
Blessings -
.



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neuro_nurse

posted July 23, 2007 at 2:15 pm


moderatelad,
Thanks,
I could launch into a diatribe on medical ethics, the expectations of and ignorance of medical care among the general populace, the disparity between the availability of technology and resources between industrialized countries and developing countries et cetera, but I won’t.
I don’t see any change for the better in the provision of health care in the U.S. – not until we hit a crisis which, as far as I can see, is coming.
I plan to be in Africa when it happens.
Peace!



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Anonymous

posted July 23, 2007 at 3:06 pm


I have no desire to see Moore’s diatribe and I agree with him, the system needs to be fixed. Movies like his do nothing but cause those on both sides of the argument to dig in even more. What we need is a documentary that shows the problems but contributes some valid solutions for discussions. Not give us examples of systems that we all know are more broken than ours.
Peace



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Moderatelad

posted July 23, 2007 at 3:15 pm


Posted by: | July 23, 2007 3:06 PM
‘…no desire to see Moore’s diatribe…
You should go see it in the theaters if for no other reason than the gafaws of the audience. I, as one who is more conservative, sat through F-911 twice. I chuckled a few times just to see that they would do. If looks could kill – I would be dead in my chair. I will see Sicko when it comes out on DVD and only after a few beers.
Have a great day -
.



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e-dubya

posted July 23, 2007 at 4:45 pm


I recently had dinner with some friends who are quite conservative (work in this administration in D.C., in fact) and so I was interested in their take on healthcare issues. They both said that until they had a child recently, they had never thought about what it means for the Insurance companies to “govern” health care. Their infant recently went in for 5 shots. Seriously. 5 shots. When as an adult have any of us gotten 5 shots all in a row at one sitting? And WHY did their son get 5 shots within a 5-minute period of time? Because the Insurance company doesn’t want to shell out the money for more visits than need be. I think it wasn’t until that point that they realized the issue here. Ultimately some entity governs healthcare. Right now it is the insurance companies who profit from their efforts or it could be the government who may weigh the system down with more paperwork/bureacracy… They both don’t sound like great systems with any thought to the greater good of any individuals… but which system will have more people getting access to healthcare? This to me is an issue worth voting for in the next election.



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esther

posted July 23, 2007 at 4:48 pm


does anyone else have a problem with the fact that insurance companies are ultimately in it for the $$$? that’s what bothers me the most. if these businesses are ultimately providing health care in order to make a profit, then it would seem that our health is only second-place. a means to an end.



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Terrance

posted July 23, 2007 at 5:08 pm


This sounds strangely like the “teach the controversy” battle cry, and the criticism that were leveled at Al Gore for not including dissenting viewpoints in his documentary and recent book.
Oddly enough, this is criticism is most often leveled at progressives by conservatives. How is it that Michael Moore, Al Gore, or anyone else owes their opposition a platform as part of their productions, all nice and paid for? Is the other side likely to do the same?
Documentaries often present opinion, or tell a story within the context of the film maker’s viewpoint. They aren’t required to be “balanced.”
On the other health care systems featured in the film, I’d be interested in how many people are dissatisfied with their health care systems vs Americans dissatisfied with ours. My bet is that we have a higher rate of dissatisfaction, and probably a higher rate of disaster stories too.
Those other systems aren’t perfect, but that doesn’t mean they still aren’t better than ours.



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Terrance

posted July 23, 2007 at 5:11 pm


Oh, and as for the comparison, it would have been difficult if not impossible for Moore to convey the stories in his movie effectively without narration. So, I’m not sure the comparison is a fair one.
Was Moore supposed to make the Koyaanisqatsi of U.S. health care?



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shawn

posted July 23, 2007 at 5:16 pm


The only people who are really against a universal system are those who benefit from the current system (i.e. the very wealthy). I am in my 30s, amfinancially stable, have insurance and am in good health. I went for about 8 months without insurance a few years ago and was terrified of getting an injury/serious illness. Those against universal healthcare should try (and spouse and kids) living without it for a while and see how they like it.
Two points. First, given that the “Fear Socialized Medicine!!!” crowd makes the same arguments about either waiting time or sub-standard care I wonder: which is prefereable, have to wait and pay very little or not go at all/go into massive debt? Receive some care, maybe not 4 or 5-star level, versus no care at all/care that will break you financially?
The second point is that for years (forever?) insurance companies and not medical professionals have been the driven force in healthcare. And that benefits one group of people: Those who work, probably at the upper levels, of insurance companies.



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bren

posted July 23, 2007 at 5:26 pm


Thank you e-dubya and esther for raising the real moral question question here; it’s not whether or not government-run or business-run will allow more opportunity for damage suits (boy, is that based on cynicism!) but which system has as its PRIMARY AND OVER-ARCHING goal the health of the men, women and children of a country. The Moore film focuses its attention on Americans who have health insurance and the various ways in which the insurers deny coverage. People died for lack of medical care because insurers decided the care wasn’t required. It wasn’t about whether or not the care was required but how much it might cost. However, if the goal of the health insurer is to provide good financial returns to its stockholders, then what Moore describes is both inevitable and “as it should be”. That may be good business practice, but it has nothing to do with health care.
The goal here is keeping people healthy; that will never be accomplished by a business that has a conflicting goal/serves a different master. Who/what institution then can run a health care system with health care as its purpose?



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gina b

posted July 23, 2007 at 5:28 pm


Ouch. Posted what seemed to me an illustration of the pitfalls of the “Why should my taxes pay for…?” train of thought, got flamed.
Let’s try again.
Seems to me if we agree that certain things are necessary to keeping a society going, we have to pay for them — for everybody. Some PhD’s can probably afford private security. I wouldn’t begrudge them a call to 911. For me, health care is in that bucket.
I like the question I hear recent posters asking: Should basic services be profit centers?



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esther

posted July 23, 2007 at 5:48 pm


it’s not whether or not government-run or business-run will allow more opportunity for damage suits (boy, is that based on cynicism!) but which system has as its PRIMARY AND OVER-ARCHING goal the health of the men, women and children of a country.
well said, bren.
which brings me to the observation that moore did not, interestingly enough, focus on all those who don’t have health insurance, but on those who have it (the fortunate ones)… and are suffering anyway. i’m tempted to feel safe because i have a health insurance plan. but the stories of those individuals in the documentary have me wondering if i really am safe.



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neuro_nurse

posted July 23, 2007 at 5:49 pm


“WHY did their son get 5 shots within a 5-minute period of time?”
One of the most important reasons children do not receive full immunization coverage is ‘missed opportunities.’
If the parents of a child had to bring the child in five times for the first round of immunizations, how likely would that child be to receive all of the routine childhood immunizations?
When a child is in the office and at a stage of life when she/he is particularly vulnerable to vaccine-preventable illnesses, it would be irresponsible not to give the child all of the due vaccinations.
Before we get into the ethics of paternalism vs. autonomy, most states allow parents to defer immunizations. In the event of an outbreak, a non-immunized child (herd immunity free-rider) will not be permitted to attend school because she/he increases the risk of transmission to a child who was vaccinated but did not develop immunity. (I am well-versed in the ethics and risks/benefits of immunizations. The WORST place to find information on immunizations: Google)
“does anyone else have a problem with the fact that insurance companies are ultimately in it for the $$$?”
That is the heart of the matter.



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kevin s.

posted July 23, 2007 at 5:49 pm


“does anyone else have a problem with the fact that insurance companies are ultimately in it for the $$$? that’s what bothers me the most. if these businesses are ultimately providing health care in order to make a profit, then it would seem that our health is only second-place. a means to an end.”
So does that apply to doctors as well?
“How is it that Michael Moore, Al Gore, or anyone else owes their opposition a platform as part of their productions, all nice and paid for? Is the other side likely to do the same?”
The other side doesn’t get their stuff funded by Hollywood, so this question is moot. That said, this is supposed to be a documentary, not a political diatribe. If it is the latter it is fiction, and not terribly interesting fiction (and not terribly effective either). If it is the former, than it should be held to the standards of the former, and will be more effective.
“The only people who are really against a universal system are those who benefit from the current system (i.e. the very wealthy).”
I am not wealthy. I oppose a universal system. Universal health care is not so popular as you describe.
“Those against universal healthcare should try (and spouse and kids) living without it for a while and see how they like it.”
You could say the same thing about a car.
“which is prefereable, have to wait and pay very little or not go at all/go into massive debt? Receive some care, maybe not 4 or 5-star level, versus no care at all/care that will break you financially?”
I’ll take the 4 or 5 star care, personally.
“The second point is that for years (forever?) insurance companies and not medical professionals have been the driven force in healthcare. And that benefits one group of people: Those who work, probably at the upper levels, of insurance companies.”
So instead of insurance companies, we’ll have the government do it? How will that make it better? The government isn’t going to have doctors making the decisions either.



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esther

posted July 23, 2007 at 5:57 pm


So does that apply to doctors as well?
well, i certainly don’t think doctors should be in their profession for the income!



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neuro_nurse

posted July 23, 2007 at 8:15 pm


“So does that apply to doctors as well?”
“well, i certainly don’t think doctors should be in their profession for the income!”
Health care professionals assume a high degree of responsibility and, with that responsibility, risk. We are guided by professional standards and ethics. Malpractice or unethical behavior can lead to the loss of our licenses to practice and, therefore, our livelihood.
Yes, we are paid well for our services.
What is the insurance business but a form of playing the odds – i.e., gambling?
The house always wins.



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kevin s.

posted July 23, 2007 at 10:18 pm


“well, i certainly don’t think doctors should be in their profession for the income!”
Why on earth not???? Tell you what. You go find a country with a volunteer medical force. You go live there, and let us know how it goes.



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Mick Sheldon

posted July 23, 2007 at 10:58 pm


I like the question I hear recent posters asking: Should basic services be profit centers?
Is it not also about if service be done better ?
Most services are done better without government , they sometimes cost more , sometimes cost less. At one time it was cheaper to fly a person to Boston from NYC then it was to have them take the Train System calculated by over cost and ridership .
Allow the issue to be seen from different points of views and understanding and the Moore fans might be taken seriously .
Good Doctors always give you give different options if they can .



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canucklehead

posted July 24, 2007 at 1:01 am


>>>>”I wonder if those that promote Nationalize Healthcare realize that when it would become real – they just lost their ability to sue for damages, real or percived.”
My wife has worked ER and elsewhere both sides of the 49th; medical lawsuits in Canada are a (properly comparative)fraction of what they are in the U.S.



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canucklehead

posted July 24, 2007 at 1:10 am


>>>Not give us examples of systems that we all know are more broken than ours
>>>Those other systems aren’t perfect, but that doesn’t mean they still aren’t better than ours. Terrance
You’re absolutely right, Terrance. Whoever made the first post needs to get their buns out of the USA and realize that it doesn’t hold the patent on all things perfect.



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Amazon Creek

posted July 24, 2007 at 2:08 am


I agree with this article. No, I wouldn’t be interested long-term in a movie like “Sicko”. That style of communication turns me off. I like multiple angles brought in.
Sorry, but life has very few one-dimensional problems.



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Amazon Creek

posted July 24, 2007 at 2:26 am


Gina, I like your posts. Your posts gets at the heart of so many issues “Whose values do we have? The God in the Bible? Or worldly “wise-sounding” philosophies – that cleverly cloak cold,heartless values inside the appearance of wisdom.”
And I agree….part of the problem with the health care system is the take-over by for-profit, Wall-Street Fortune 500 people.
I have no problem with people being able to make profit. The company I work for makes plenty of profit – but the product they are marketing is not essential. They sell a product that’s “nice to have” – but you certainly won’t die without it!
Health Care needs to go back to the non-profits. Certainly, it should be managed in a financially sound way – but “managed-in-a-financially-sound-way” is much different than “Let’s-milk-this-for-all-the-cash-we-can-stash!”.
Health care dollars need to be spent wisely – but it must never be forgotten that health care is about HUMAN BEINGS that are sick and need caring and nurture.
The way it’s run now – the humans who need health care aren’t half as important as the stockholders. The sick people have become like 101 Dalmatians – count the spots, Cruella, count the spots.
Health care should be run to be solvent. But it should be nobody’s cash cow. That is crass.
Sorry – but it just is. If you want burgeoning profits for stockholders…then go sell electronics or houses or luxury items or furniture…or any of the MANY items and services that aren’t direly necessary.
Health care services should NEVER be treated that way. They should be about the needs of people.



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kevin s.

posted July 24, 2007 at 10:10 am


“Health care should be run to be solvent. But it should be nobody’s cash cow. That is crass.”
It’s going to be somebody’s cash cow. Somebody in government is going to get a big paycheck to keep expenses down. Doctors are still going to make lots of money (as well they should, btw). Lawyers are going to have a field day going to the trough of federal government for their tort settlements.
As I said before, the sticky thing now is that health care benefits are so closely tied to employment. This takes choice out of the equation more than it should. That said, if I am unhappy with my insurance, and several of my co-workers are as well, my work will eventually switch providers.



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ds0490

posted July 24, 2007 at 1:25 pm


Through my place of employment I receive insurance. In return for this insurance I have $1050 deducted from my paycheck monthly.
The insurance is a standard 80/20, $1000 deduct per person/$3000 deduct family max policy. I am told which doctors participate in the plan, and if I choose one outside the “network” I pay full charge and am reimbursed what the insurance company feels is the right price for that service.
I’ve been on this program for 14 years now. A few years ago my wife had a gall bladder attack. It was incredibly painful, and the diagnosis was that she needed her gall bladder removed. After waiting for most of a month she was finally able to have it removed. When my gall bladder went bad a few years later I experienced a similar delay in service.
My son was injured a couple of years ago in a football game. We took him to the emergency room, and after waiting nearly 6 hours he was examined, a CAT scan was taken, and he was told he had a mild concussion. Six hours of waiting for about 30 minutes of service.
The bill was $995…just short of our $1000 deductible for that year. Since it was October when he was injured, the deductible reset just 2.5 months later.
So please…tell me again how wonderful our medical insurance industry is in this country.



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Becca

posted July 24, 2007 at 1:42 pm


M North…
Have you looked into healthcare coops? The pastor of my church, who isn’t paid what most people think of as a pastor’s salary (small church…minimal funds), so, faced with the same dilemma (cost of insurance), they were able to find a coop. It has worked out very well for them.
In all honesty, I look at the payments they make to the coop every three months at budgeting meetings, but I couldn’t tell you what they are from memory. I know that recently they decreased because their last son got married, but that’s all I can remember.
me



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ds0490

posted July 24, 2007 at 1:43 pm


Healthcare choice in action.
911 Operator: “This is 911. What is the emergency?”
Ms. Jones: “My husband collapsed. He is not breathing. Please send an ambulance.”
911 Operator: “Our ambulance charges are as follows: Full cardiac care is $36.50 per mile. Simple medical care is $30.50 per mile. I show you as being 10.2 miles from the nearest station, so your charges one way would be $372.30 and $311.10. Which ambulance do you wish for this call?
Ms. Jones: “Send the first one…I think it’s his heart! Hurry!!”
911 Operator: “The call has been placed, they should be there in a few minutes. Which hospital do you wish to have your husband transported to, Ms. Jones?”
Ms. Jones: “I don’t care…I just want him to get there quickly.”
911 Operator: “The closest hospital is only 7 miles away from your home, but the better rated hospital for cardiac care is 30 miles away. The cost to transport for each is $255.50 and $1095.00 respectively. Which hospital should we take your husband to if he needs to be transported?”
Ms. Jones: “My God, send him to the cardiac one! Just hurry…he’s starting to turn blue.”
911 Operator: “No problem, Ms. Jones. The total for this transport call will be $1467.30, plus equipment rental of $350.00, which brings the total to $1817.30. How will you be paying for this?”
Ms. Jones: “We have insurance. It’s with BC/BS of Anytown.”
911 Operator: “Thank you…one moment and I will get pre-approval from them.”
A few seconds later.
911 Operator: “Ms. Jones, the insurance company has denied the claim. They say that the extra level of care you requested is not supported by the medical information to date.”
Ms. Jones: “I hear the siren…I’m going out to meet the ambulance.”
911 Operator: “Ms. Jones, we must recall this ambulance and send out the one approved by your insurance company. I apologize for the delay.”
Ms. Jones: “What?? It’s leaving!!! *sobbing*”
911 Operator: “Ms. Jones, the approved ambulance will be there in just a few more minutes. We also cannot take your husband to the better rated hospital, since your insurance has denied that pre-authorization as well.”
The myth of health-care choice and consumer empowerment suggests that competition and information will help keep health care costs lower. Nevermind the fact that in most communities there is only one healthcare provider, and to choose anything else means a drive of sometimes as far as 50 miles. Just as Ms. Jones found out, choice isn’t all that it is cracked up to be.
We need universal, single payer healthcare.



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Tim

posted July 24, 2007 at 2:57 pm


Ryan’s article has reminded me (a politically intense person) that as Christians engaging in debate and argument we need to be concerned with not only the rightness of our opinions but also for the people we are debating. Polemically preaching to the choir will more often than not, alienate people, which is exactly the opposite of Christian principles of peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation. We must live in the tension between holding true to our beliefs and treating political opponents (Christians and others) with love. The method of argument the director of “Landscapes” employs is more likely to unify people in the correction of injustice, than to create division between those that agree and disagree.



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Anonymous

posted July 24, 2007 at 11:23 pm


Whether one likes or dislikes “Sicko” as a documentary is not as important as the fact that this film has brought the subject forward. Often, it takes people getting riled up before the stodgey powers that be get moving.



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Moderatelad

posted July 25, 2007 at 8:19 am


Posted by: | July 24, 2007 11:23 PM
takes people getting riled up
Even if the facts presented in the Doc. are manufactured. The longer it plays and the more people see it – the more it is coming out the Moore ‘manipulated the truth’ in his Doc. I believe by the end of the year – the lions share of his movie will be exposed for what it is – garbage. But you are correct, it is raising people’s interest in the subject.
Have a great day!
.



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kevin s.

posted July 25, 2007 at 10:45 am


“Often, it takes people getting riled up before the stodgey powers that be get moving.”
That’s what we need! Misinformed people who are riled up. Misinformation designed to energizing the masses is called propaganda. If you did not agree with the film’s central tenets, there is no way you would be issuing such an unambiguous free pass.



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Anonymous

posted July 25, 2007 at 12:21 pm


Posted by: kevin s. | July 25, 2007 10:45 AM
Misinformation designed to energizing the masses is called propaganda.
Well stated kevin!
Maybe that is another thing that Moore and Roefenstahl had in common – propaganda.
Have a great day!
.



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Moderatelad

posted July 25, 2007 at 2:45 pm


Posted by: | July 25, 2007 12:21 PM
this post is mine – I know that most of you could tell.
Moderatelad -



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Anonymous

posted July 26, 2007 at 12:31 am


This whole discussion is opinion heavy and factually light. From what I have heard of the film, it just scratches the surface and dramatizes the points Moore wants to make.
I don’t need to see it. I was an insurance claims adjuster for over seven years for one of the largest insurance corporations in the world. Anyone who thinks an insurance company’s goal is to pay claims it owes under the terms of the policy is living in fantasyland. My job was to set reserves (estimate cost of claims) and then close files for the least amount possible. I was so good at it, I went to law school and then spent many years representing insurance companies in the context of lawsuits. Still closing files as cheaply as possible, while also setting precendents favorable to the insurance industry.
What puzzles me is why people who pay a lot of premium dollars for the system that now exists feel the need to attack anyone who tries to focus the public’s attention on a system that is not serving them well. It’s like you’re tripping the cop who’s trying to catch the burglar in your house.



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Kevin Wayne

posted July 26, 2007 at 3:50 pm


What puzzles me is why people who pay a lot of premium dollars for the system that now exists feel the need to attack anyone who tries to focus the public’s attention on a system that is not serving them well. It’s like you’re tripping the cop who’s trying to catch the burglar in your house.

Very good point, whoever made this. And why do they feel the need to attack? Because we are puttinng the finger to the chast and making them be “others-centered,” that’s why.



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