From the river to the sea,
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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

It's Not Just Walter Reed--Deborah Burger

"The U.S. spends more, far more, on health care than any other nation, but much of it is diverted into the pockets of corporate CEOs, gobbled up in record profits for the healthcare industry, and consumed by administrative waste. Just last week the commission that advises Congress on Medicare reported that Medicare has to spend 12% more for care that is administered through private insurers than through traditional Medicare.

"Meanwhile the healthcare lobby cheerleads for more privatization, and the Bush Administration, joined by a number of politicians and even some advocacy groups, argue that the solution to our healthcare nightmare is more private insurance, not more healthcare.

"Then there's the war. While the Walter Reed disgrace was heating up, the Administration was back on Capitol Hill, hat in hand, not for our veterans or the families who have to hold garage sales for their children's health. It was seeking another $142 billion in additional war funding.
The same $142 billion would pay for 8.7 million hospital stays for heart attack victims. It's also nearly four times what the administration has proposed this year for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"Overall, the President's request for funding this year and next would bring the total consumed by the war since 2003 to $589 billion, an amount that would buy health insurance for 139 million people, all of the nation's uninsured for the next three years.
These funding strains also add to the disparity in healthcare indicators between the U.S. and other industrialized nations.

"Our nation trails 36 other countries in the mortality rate for adults ages 15 to 60, 31 countries in infant mortality, and ranks just 26th in the mortality rate for cardio vascular disease. Yet we spend far more in defense, nearly four times as much of our gross domestic product as Japan, Canada and Spain, three of the countries ahead of us in most health barometers.

"All those nations, of course, also have some form of guaranteed universal healthcare system, sort of an expanded Medicare as has been proposed for the U.S. in HR 676. The public is ready for it. The latest New York Times/CBS poll found that 64% said the government should guarantee health insurance for all, 55% identified it as the top domestic priority for Congress and the President.

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