And if one can get it. Yet many appear to believe that the care is there, even if it is of the charitable or government-paid variety, and it is only the dollars that are in insufficient supply even though health spending is already roughly 18 percent of the gross national product. If buying groceries or gasoline took that big of a bite of the economy it would be the topic of the day every day, not just when bureaucrats mumble about their budget concerns.
Yet many elements in health care, particularly the more rudimentary, basic and preventative, are not available to millions nationally and hundreds locally. And this despite the sole aspect of health-care “reform” appearing to have universal agreement being that prevention and early detection provide the best chances for ultimately reducing medical bills.
This continuing failure to do what is both easiest and cheapest pops up constantly in the news, although typically in isolated fashion regarding some particular population subcategory. It showed up in Floyd County once again in a news report on women’s health services including Pap smears, birth control and STD (sexually transmitted disease) testing — or rather, the lack thereof.
ALL OF IT is related to the “insufficient funds” problem, of course — meaning that 18 percent of the GNP is either not enough or not used in the wisest fashion. That particular aspect has gotten so convoluted that nobody can explain it in brief any longer. It also involves so many moving parts where more money for this means less money for that, it would give King Solomon difficulty in dividing the baby.
Seriously … which is more important, pre-natal and birth coverage or birth control, Pap smears or immunizing children, treating STDs or restaurant food inspections?
Or, in the case of private nonprofit providers such as the Women of W.O.R.T.H. Inc. clinic, they must compete for a slice of heart-felt gifts with churches and their missions, homeless shelters, crisis centers and on and on and on.
Then, atop this general condition of “not enough to go around” those who follow ongoing news reports can learn such as:
In Georgia (Associated Press): “Georgia lawmakers will convene Jan. 14 for the General Assembly with a familiar theme: a budget shortfall explained mostly by an economy that’s not keeping pace with rising health-care costs. The single biggest variable is the Medicaid insurance program for the poor, most of them children. Medicaid already promises to be several hundred million dollars short of what it will need to continue existing services and payment rates in the fiscal year that begins July 1.”
In Washington (Reuters): “In recent public remarks the president has identified the U.S. health-care system’s sky-high price tag — by far the highest in the world — as a driving force for Medicare reform. Health-care experts, including former Obama advisers, say the White House appears to be considering ideas for Medicare, the popular health insurance program for the elderly and disabled, that could become models for the overall health landscape.”
APPARENTLY, the elections over for a while, two of the known “third rails” that if touched fry politicians to a crisp — caring for children and the old folks — now become touchable. Those are also the two aspects of the “care” portion of medical treatment generally assumed to currently be the most secure.
It is unlikely the “health-care problem” can ever be resolved unless some general agreement can be achieved regarding what is essential for all Americans to be able to access.
Consider how remarkable it is that if an American (insured or uninsured) needs some test to find out if they are at medical risk the permission or approval of somebody controlling the health-care wallet is required. If the same person gets hit by a car he or she will instantly be surrounded by trained attendants, hauled to the hospital, given whatever treatment is required to save them — no questions asked, nobody’s permission needed.
In the first instance, who pays the bill is very much the controlling factor. In the second case, nobody gives a hoot if the bill is going to be covered or not.
Perhaps it is the second viewpoint that should govern in most medical matters, although this is easier said than done. Doctors, etc. are not charities … well, at least not most of them. Cost and compensation must clearly be addressed as part of whatever system/formula is established.
THE UNADDRESSED question that must be raised is only this: Should money come first and care second? Is the current problem at least in part caused by having put the health-care cart in front of the tax/private-pay horse trying to handle the load?
The local “troubles” recently raised are hardly new. This newspaper and many well-intentioned citizens have been moaning, groaning and tearing at their hair about them for many years. So have all local governments and do-good organizations/churches. A solution is no closer now, Obamacare with all its flaws and unarrived promises notwithstanding.
A new fundamental approach may well be in order. How could it be worse than the status quo? And accompanying it should also be a discarding of an attitude held by many.
Frankly, it is enough to cause screams of objection to constantly hear such problems being deflected by the intoning of “For you have the poor with you always …” with the voice trailing off at that point. Or replacing “poor” with “sick” or “crazy” or “stupid” or some such.
That’s from the Bible of course (Mark 14:7) and a partial quotation deliberately intended to offer a skewed and incorrect thought.
The full quotation (New King James Version) goes: “For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always.”
Whether one is religious or not, perhaps it is time in matters of health care (and some other contemporary issues) to get around to the “whenever you wish you may do them good” part.