Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Socialized Medicine Boogeyman

When it comes to health care reform, Republicans are yelling about everything and anything as they pursue their campaign of ‘just say no.’ One of their rants claims that proposed health care reforms will constitute ‘socialized medicine.’

Many Americans see any form of socialization as inherently bad, not realizing perhaps, that learning to live satisfactorily within one’s culture requires socialization. Of course, there are members of the far right that object to even that form of socialization, worried that it will deny them their right to carry assault weapons into national parks.

But what ‘just say no’ Republicans are yelling about is socializing America’s health care system. Surprisingly, a substantial number of older Americans are joining the chorus, spurred on by politicians and talk show hosts telling them that the government will force them to meet “death panels” that will decide on whether they live or die – shades of ‘Soylent Green.’ Of course these same old folks are pretty damn strident about keeping their Medicare benefit, which they seem to think is provided by the tooth fairy.

Speaking of socialized medicine, some three million American military men and women have their health care needs met by government salaried doctors and nurses, in government owned buildings, using government owned equipment. When they leave the military, they may be treated at Veteran’s Health Administration facilities. The VHA employs more than 239,000 staff at over 1,400 sites, including hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, domiciliary facilities, and Readjustment Counseling Centers. In addition, the VHA, a $47 billion government program, is the Nation's largest provider of graduate medical education and a major contributor to medical research.

Republicans are good at saying no, and they’re saying no to change, period, because, as yet, there’s no House and Senate agreed-upon bill on health care reform. The question is, to whom are the Republicans pandering; special interests in the insurance industry, big pharma, the religious right, the xenophobic immigration extremists, the ‘birthers,’ or just the vapid, blathering idiots (yes, I mean you Rush 'Limblah') that care more about seeing President Obama fail, than seeing Americans get better health care.

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