While the Voters were Sleeping

By on December 28, 2011

All eyes are on Iowa this week. That is, if they are opened at all. One cannot blame intelligent Americans for dozing as Ron Paul disowns his old embarrassing press hand-outs, Rick Perry fine-tunes his right-to-life positions and Mit Romney pumps gas for photographers.

But if one looks digs deeper into the papers this morning, past the sports page and cable listings and top-10 nose ring listings for 2011, you will find that the Health Care Crisis in America is making news, just not the type to run Newt Gingrich or the Penn State football scandals from the front pages.

In Washington, GOP financial whiz kid Rep. Paul Ryan, he of the plan to privatize Medicare, has teamed up with Oregon Senator Ron Wyden (D) to propose a plan that updates the Ryan proposal and creates a Medicare alternative dependent on the insurance purchasing cooperatives in states,  created by the Health Reform Act Ryan has been trying to overturn. You would think Wyden would know better than to buy a used scheme from Ryan but apparently not.  It adds more bells and whistles and then complicates the process and shifts the burden to seniors, who of course are the best equipped to take this on. Anyone who remembers nursing home administrators and doctors helping their elderly patients wade through Medicare Part D  material several years ago will know what we are in store for if this piece of junk is taken seriously. Rather than passing the headaches onto others, how about a proposal that squarely addresses the cost problem and does something about the core of it. This scheme will never do.

The heart of the real problem driving the Medicare crisis comes into relief when you flip the page. The New York Times is reporting a major financial disaster in Medicare being caused by the failure of metal hip replacements. The costs of replacement surgeries and law suits flying around is expected to have a major impact on health care costs. (Someone show this to Senator Wyden.) We are talking thousands of patients needing replacements sooner than expected. The metal joints are throwing off debris into surrounding tissues which was not anticipated. People are suing their surgeons, their health plans, the companies that made them, hospitals and anyone they can think of.This will add millions and millions of dollars to the current cost of health care.

I have seen no signs of ill-intent here on the part of the manufacturer. Maybe that will be exposed later. But if not, it is simply one of the problems with modern technology, which is far and away the number one contributor to sky-rocketing health care costs. Prosthetic joints are a godsend. There are many Americans leading normal lives who would otherwise be hobbling around with canes or not hobbling at all. I know people who who have had multiple replacements and several replacements of their replacements. These wonderful techno-logic advances bring risks, and everyone wants someone else to assume those risks. It is a topic needing attention and getting none.

Finally out in the California deserts, as reported by Michael Hiltzik in the LA Times, the State Attorney General is trying to take on the bankruptcy of the Victorville Hospital. It was the for-profit creation of one MD-entrepreneur being bought by a group headed by a second MD-$. AG Harris complains that the two corporations are trying to go around her. Records show that the hospital has had serious quality issues, though it is virtually the only game in town. What’s more original owner Prem Reddy made it profitable by cherry-picking contracts and driving up local costs and rates until the revenue stream dried up. So much for what moguls with real business experience can bring to the current financial crisis and their community.

These are the real stories that candidates — and the president—  should be addressing, not the fluff blowing around out there in East Long Branch, Iowa.

Tom Godfrey


About Tom Godfrey

9 comments on “While the Voters were Sleeping

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    • TGodfrey on said:

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