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I had the best laugh I have had in a long time thanks to Christine, a caller from Syracuse, Indiana on the Limpbaugh show today.  I had my dial set to AM to hear the progressive Jill Skeem on Top Story and hadn’t switched back to my usual NPR station on FM.  I never listen to Rush's drivel, but Christine got my ear.  I didn’t expect any respect for the passing of Ted Kennedy by the loudmouth and of course I wasn’t disappointed.  

I had already heard enough hateful remarks from our listening audience here in Southern Idaho this morning.  I appear on a local talk show each Wednesday as a local democrat in a mostly conservative area.  "They’ll have to screw him in the ground," one caller tastefully remarked.  It doesn’t matter that the Senator was instrumental in passing more legislation for children and health reform than any other senator.  The caller is probably living on Medicare right now thanks to Teddy, but I digress.  

Senator Kennedy was moved to fight for health care for everyone by a personal experience.  His son lost his leg to cancer and the family was fortunate enough to be able to pay for extended treatments.  He knew then that he was one of the fortunate wealthy individuals who had that luxury. He saw the others around him that didn’t have the money and reached out to them.  It moved him to fight for such coverage for everyone.  

He had his personal demons and tragedy.  God will be his ultimate judge, but it must be said that Ted Kennedy worked for years to help others less fortunate.  I remember him best speaking out in 2002 as one of the lone voices against the Iraq war.  What a different there would be in our country’s economic picture if we had listened, let alone how many lives would have been saved on both sides if we had followed his lead?

Oh but our Rush was in fine form screaming on about how Obama was going to take away all the health care that Ted had enjoyed today. How Ted was "the lion and how we (conservatives) are his prey." How the Democrats were all ganging up to take advantage of Ted’s death.  He was crying the blues about how he, Rush baby, was attacked last year when Kennedy was diagnosed because he said that the Democrats were going to use Kennedy’s illness to pass health care and now the Democrats were linking it to his death.  It only takes a minute of Rush to know what an egomaniac he is.

So it was doubly sweet when this lady, Christine, called in during one of Rush’s rants against Kennedy to challenge the death panel baloney head on.  Christine gave him everything I and other Democrats have been saying for days. All you could hear was the sputtering of this fool.  "I’m not your husband!" he screams at one point when Christine refuses to be shouted down.  Christine will not be denied.  She challenges Rush with "Do you have a living will?"  Rush says that he does and she counters that this is all the bill is about; paying for that.  After she takes him to the mat, he can only answer with the "someday everyone lives or dies according to Obama" lies.

I was almost sorry that I missed the real story over on NPR about a returning Iraq soldier who is raising money by running for wounded vets, but this was just too sweet.  Yes folks you can listen to the clowns on Faux radio or you can hear about everyday heroes and hear about health care around the world on NPR.  Yesterday I listened to one of the most fascinating interviews with T.R. Reid.  

For the full interview go to this link:

Reid, who is a foreign correspondent for the Washington Post and has lived on three continents with his family, has just finished sampling health care around the world and written a new book called, "The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care."  I don’t care if you are a liberal, conservative, or a pig wearing lipstick, everyone should read this book.
Reid starts with the much quoted fact that we are the only industrialized country in the world that doesn’t offer health care for everyone.  He goes on to tell where the phrase socialized medicine comes from; the American Medical Association in 1942 hired a PR firm who invented the term.  At first no one knew what it was but it got associated with the idea that if you wanted to provide health care for your sick neighbor; you were a commie.  This was during the Cold War, so it worked well to demonize any type of reform.  Few can really come up with a true definition of socialize medicine though many use government run interchangeably.  Reid makes the argument that our own government run health care is Medicare, Veterans’ and that the Native Americans get; all of which people generally like.

He then breaks world health care into four different categories:

  1. The Beveridge Model based on the British system where "taking care of people is the government’s job just like picking up the trash...or running the public library.  When you need the service, you get it and you don’t pay there.  You pay for it in taxes."  This is the one most people think of when you say socializes medicine.  In Spain, Italy, New Zealand, as well as Britain, 97 % never get a doctor bill, pay a doctor, or a hospital bill.  The best part is that it is so simple.  It is ran by the NHS or National Health Service.  About 10% of the people in Britain have private insurance to cover things like botox, breast augmentations, and private rooms.  The problems are waiting lists for specialists and the requirements for seeing a general practitioner first.  Tony Blair and Brown have been working hard to improve their system.
  1. The World Health Organization rates the German health care plan the Bismarck Model in France as number one in the world.  In this model all the doctors, hospitals, and health care is private, but not-for-profit.  There are about 200 companies in Germany and you can switch companies without penalty and they have to cover every claim.  In many of these countries insurance even pays for vacations if you are stressed.  If the company doesn’t pay in five days you don’t have to pay the next month’s premium.
  1. The third model is the much discussed and cussed Canadian National Health Insurance model.  (I was being sarcastic, Julie) This model combines the British and the French systems where the hospitals and doctors are private but the pay is public or through taxes.  The good thing is that no one dies of anything acute, but in order to save money they have cut back on specialists, operating rooms, and equipment.  Anyone with a chronic condition that isn’t life threatening waits as long as 10 months for elective services.  There are 14 different models for each providence as well.
  1. The fourth model, which unfortunately is the one that our uninsured get, is simply; if you can pay out of pocket you get health care and if not you die.  This is what most third world countries have.  They may have hospitals and doctors, but you wait in long lines and pay by cash or barter.

The United States has aspects of each model, but we differ in our administrative fees that are 18 to 20 % out of every dollar compared to 4% in France and in our huge salaries to CEOs.  No other country makes the profits that our capitalistic system makes and for that we have one of the shortest life expectancies of any industrialized nation.  We have a huge complicated overlapping system.  This is why most of the other industrialized countries simplified theirs.
Reid makes the important point that most insurance companies in the world are not for profit, like Blue Cross and Blue Shield were when they started.  In America the companies now are more like high stakes gamblers; they bet that they are going to make money off of you because the odds are that you will stay well or change insurance (Medicare, for example) before you get sick.  They hedge their bets by refusing to insure you or dropping you if you have pre-existing conditions.  These other countries run insurance like a charity and their business is to keep you well.  You can see why preventive medicine is successful in this model.

Returning to Mr. Rush and the other pundits, Reid has this to say about rationing.:

Every country rations health care. This is not a nice thing to say, but the United     States rations health care. The distinction is we ration differently from everybody else. I think this is important.
In the other countries, they have sort of a basic floor of care that everybody has access to, and the result is nobody dies for lack of a doctor. In America, some people get everything. The ceiling is the sky, you know, kind of thing, and get it right away with no waiting, but a lot of people don't have access to care. So that's how we ration. We ration by cutting off access for tens of millions of people, and no other country rations health care that way.

We ration health care now!  So take that Rush and all you that are yelling at the town halls.  Rush goes on to attack Christine later because she had the audacity to say she is working three jobs and expects insurance.  He rants on about how that is entitlement and then gives a little story about his health care problems.  Seems like Rush got a Porta Verde or somewhere.  He had to check into the hospital and get antibiotics for it.  And guess what? He saved 40% on his bill by paying for it with his credit card up front.  

Wouldn’t we all like to do that, money bags?  Guess Christine is suppose to just reach into her pocket and pay for her health care out of the millions she makes at those three jobs.

Yeah, Rush is living in the 4th circle of he...I mean the 4th method of insurance.  He can pay for his health care up front.  He has the unmitigated gall to attack hard-working Christine of three jobs while he makes millions just spouting off about anything with the GOP’s blessing.  He wouldn’t know a health care crisis from a pop tart.  

I would like to see someone really have a discussion about how our health care system doesn’t work and what we care learn from other countries where it works better.  The most insulting thing you have to say today is to imply that Ted Kennedy would have any thing in common with the twisted lies you spew.    

Wouldn’t be great if people would tune off the loudmouths like Rush for a second and become educated?  What if those of us making 20 K a year could have the system in France or even Britain?  What if all the libertarians and tea baggers really listened to what Rush just said.  He just said that you all should just reach into your pockets and pay for your health care up front.  He like so many of the ultra rich and conservative in America are so out of touch they don’t realize what they are saying.  This is the health care system he and the ultra conservatives envision for you.  Pay or die.  It is that simple.

No, we would rather talk about how Obama has death panels and pulling the plug on grandma, not about implementing a system that is fair, economical, and promotes preventive health.  

Turning on Rush sometimes makes me think that I have been asleep for five hundred years and I have woken up with all the stupid people in charge like in Idiocracy, but today just for a moment I heard the voice of reason and it belonged to a woman named Christine.

Originally posted to d50siegel on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 04:25 PM PDT.

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