Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local News & Opinion

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Travel
Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters
Open Letters:

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

07.30 This Huge Corporation Is Tackling Climate Change—Because It's a Threat to the Bottom Line

07.30 How Much Cleaning Up Brownfields Is Really Worth

07.30 Worldwide water shortage by 2040

07.30 New Zealand’s 'dramatic' ice loss could lead to severe decline of glaciers

07.30 10 reasons to be hopeful that we will overcome climate change

07.29 Changing sea chemistry will hit Alaska communities hard

07.29 The Health Benefits of Trees

07.29 Delaying climate action will carry heavy economic cost, White House warns

07.29 Obama leasing millions of Gulf acres for offshore oil & gas drilling

07.28 Companies proclaim water the next oil in a rush to turn resources into profit

07.28 Why Warren Buffett Loves Renewable Energy

07.28 Report shows 1 in 3 Texans chooses renewable energy options

07.28 Half of Britain to be opened up to fracking

07.28 Wishful Thinking About Natural Gas: Why Fossil Fuels Can’t Solve the Problems Created by Fossil Fuels

News Media

07.31 Jill Abramson’s sad admission: “I don’t think the press, in general, did publish any stories that upset the Bush White House”

Daily FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

Justice Matters
US Politics, Policy & Culture

07.31 Keith Alexander's Unethical Get-Rich-Quick Plan

07.30 Paul Ryan's Obsolete Thinking About Poverty

07.30 Democrats want to ban government contracts for companies that leave the U.S. to avoid taxes

07.30 NSA Spying Will Cost US Tech Titans Billions, and That's Just the Start

07.29 Hillary Clinton vs. Elizabeth Warren: Big Differences, Despite Claims To The Contrary

07.29 The State's Unwitting Attack on Parenting While Poor

07.28 My party has lost its soul: Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and the victory of Wall Street Democrats

07.27 Repeal Prohibition, Again

High Crimes?

07.31 'The world stands disgraced' - Israeli shelling of school kills at least 15 [2:48 video]

07.29 To Summarize the Israeli/Gaza War

07.28 As the Gaza crisis deepens, boycotts can raise the price of Israel’s impunity

07.27 Palestinian Resistance: an icon for those who long to live free

07.27 Wyden Ponders Release of CIA Torture Report Without White House Consent

Economics, Crony Capitalism

07.29 The black hole of US government contracting

07.27 PRIVATE EQUITY’S FREE PASS

07.27 The Typical Household, Now Worth a Third Less

07.27 Federal regulators let utilities gouge customers

International

07.31 The Orange Social Design Award: Help Us Make Our Cities More Liveable

07.31 Europe's Ground Zero: Fairy Tales and Fabrications in Eastern Ukraine

07.31 Cold Paradise: US Struggles with Wave of Underage Immigrants

07.31 THE CONSEQUENCES OF DREAMS

07.31 Just How Likely Is Another World War?

07.31 The Logic of Israeli Violence

07.30 EU and US impose sweeping economic sanctions on Russia

07.30 Gaza: another UN school hit during fierce bombardment

07.29 Israel Creates ‘No Man’s Land’ in Gaza, Shrinking Strip by 40 Percent

07.29 Huge blaze out of control in Tripoli battle as Libya slides into chaos

07.29 Weapons paid for by US are Missing in Afghanistan: Did they go to the Taliban?

07.29 Unlike Iraq, Iran, Libya, N. Korea, Israel has Impunity from Defying UNSC (Gaza Ceasefire)

07.29 The Wake-Up Call: Europe Toughens Stance against Putin

07.29 Gaza pounded by Israel after Netanyahu promises prolonged battle

07.29 When I served, the Israeli military was the most moral in the world. No more

07.28 Why Is Israel Losing a War It's Winning?

07.28 Stopping Putin: The Time Has Come for Europe to Act

07.27 North Korea Is Not Pleased: Dance Video Features Kim Jong Un [3:29 video]

07.27 Gaza death toll over 1,000 - Israeli toll up to 42 [videos, photos]

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  Bush Administration Health Care Policy in Three Rules
Newspaper logo

Health Care:

Bush Administration Health Care Policy in Three Rules

by John Hickman

Unfortunately, knowing these three rules is merely palliative care. A cure would require rebuilding our health care system to make meeting the needs of all Americans its central purpose.
Do you ever experience dizziness or nausea when thinking about the current administration’s health care policy? You are not alone. Millions of your fellow Americans are similarly afflicted. The reason you and they have that sea-sick feeling is that the ground really does shift depending on which part of the health care policy domain one observes. Although it won’t make the administration’s various decisions and pronouncements about health care any more reasonable or consistent, the following treatment may help to reduce the symptoms. All you have to do is remember the following three rules.

Rule 1: If sexual reproduction or pleasure is implicated or if the individuals most affected are relatively few or relatively powerless, then the decision-making mode is moralistic and the value to be maximized is ‘dignity.’ For example, when President Bush proclaimed January 21, 2007 to be National Sanctity of Human Life Day, he stated that the “dignity and humanity of every person should be respected” and that we should “value human life in all forms, not just those considered healthy, wanted, or convenient.” He wasn’t talking about reducing the infant mortality rate in the United States to that of the other OECD countries but was instead rewarding the anti-abortion movement with yet another largely symbolic gesture in return for their tireless mobilization of voters for Republican candidates. Protecting ‘dignity’ was also the rationale offered for Bush’s April 11, 2007 threat to veto the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007, which he did on June 20, 2007.

The obvious problem with using ‘dignity’ to justify a health policy decision, or any public policy decision for that matter, is that it is a religious-philosophical abstraction.
The obvious problem with using ‘dignity’ to justify a health policy decision, or any public policy decision for that matter, is that it is a religious-philosophical abstraction. The empirical evidence for ‘dignity’ is no better than that for the ‘soul’ or the ‘sacred.’ Conservatives deploy ‘dignity’ when they want to avoid difficult discussions about the assumptions and interests underlying their policy preferences. The less obvious problem with ‘dignity’ is that whatever it means, everyone must deserve it in equal measure. That’s a problem because society values individual human lives unequally. The priorities assigned to waiting transplant recipients or the quality of medical care given the insured and uninsured leave no doubt that some human lives are valued more than others.

Rule 2: If most of the population is involved and the profitability of the medical industry is at stake, then the decision-making mode is economic and the value to be maximized is ‘capitalism.’ Of course that word isn’t used to identify the favored value. Nor is the word ‘socialism’ used much to describe its opposite. Both words carry too much ideological mana* to be used. Instead the administration prefers the safer words ‘private’ and ‘government.’ For example, in his struggle to under-fund the State Children's Health Insurance Program or SCHIP, Bush complained on September 21, 2007 that legislation passed by Democrats would transfer “millions of American children who now have private health insurance into government-run health care; and is an incremental step toward a government-run health care system.”

That is the sort of language the medical insurance companies and private hospital chains, entities that have grown enormously rich parasitizing American health care consumers, love to hear. And it ought to be the sort of language loathed by those same consumers. Although medical care comprises a larger part of the economy of the United States than that of the other advanced industrial societies, our national medical statistics are actually often poorer. According to the OECD, health care provision was 15.3% of total gross domestic product in the United States in 2005, while the average among 26 OECD countries was only 9%. If that extravagance actually bought Americans better health care outcomes then it might be understandable. Unfortunately it does not. Life expectancy is lower and the infant mortality rate higher in the United States than the OECD averages. What explains this economic inefficiency? The ironic answer is that much more of the health care provision in the United States is provided by profit-making firms than in the other OECD countries. Our more capitalist health care system delivers typically mediocre health care less efficiently than the more socialist health care systems of the other OECD countries.

The Department of Health and Human Services issued a document on Oct. 17 that presents the formulae for bureaucratic allocation of vaccine in the event of a serious pandemic. The bottom line is that, in the event of a deadly outbreak, some of us will be valued more than others.
Rule 3: If the state itself is threatened then the decision-making mode is bureaucratic and values to be maximized are the continuity of government and the safety of its elites. Rarely invoked, at least so publicly, this rule is evident in the "Draft Guidance on Allocating and Targeting Pandemic Influenza Vaccine" issued on October 17, 2007 by the Department of Health and Human Services. Dispensing with ‘dignity’ or the ‘private’ sector health care, this document presents the formulae for bureaucratic allocation in the event of a serious pandemic. The bottom line is that, in the event of a deadly outbreak, some of us will be valued more than others and their chances of survival enhanced by being treated from available vaccine stocks and the rest will have to take their chances. The document discusses influenza, but it is easy to see this as the basic blueprint for a pathogen much nastier.

In the five-tier "severe pandemic" scenario, government leaders, those serving in deployed units of the military and security services (including its private sector components), police, fire and rescue services, and critical healthcare personnel would be given the highest priority. So too would pregnant women, infants and toddlers. In the second tier would be the rest of the military, the National Guard, intelligence services, and people working to maintain communications and utilities. In the third tier would be people working in critical infrastructure such as the post office and the food, drug, and banking industries. The elderly and those with high-risk health conditions would comprise the fourth tier and the remaining population of healthy people 19 to 64 years of age would be last in line.

Although it makes sense that priority would be given to military, police, fire, rescue and medical personnel who might serve on the front lines of a pandemic that would threaten the social order, the categories appear generously broad when it comes to the personnel of the state and its best friends. Would White House speechwriters, FEMA officials, and Blackwater USA executives have tickets in the first tier? Would Comcast and Eli Lilly executives find themselves in the second tier and Fannie Mae accountants in the third? Picture what would happen if political appointees of the Bush administration were given discretionary authority to interpret membership in the tiers.

Note that these three rules are not like rock, paper and scissors. Should they ever come into conflict, capitalism would trump dignity and the continuity of government and the safety of elites would trump capitalism. But dignity trumps nothing. Unfortunately, knowing these three rules is merely palliative care. A cure would require rebuilding our health care system to make meeting the needs of all Americans its central purpose.


John Hickman is associate professor of comparative politics at Berry College in Rome, Georgia. His published work on electoral politics, media, and international affairs has appeared in Asian Perspective, American Politics Research, Comparative State Politics, Contemporary South Asia, Contemporary Strategy, Current Politics and Economics of Asia, East European Quarterly, Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans, Jouvert, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Political Science, Review of Religious Research, Women & Politics, and Yamanashigakuin Law Review. He may be reached at jhickman@berry.edu.


Copyright © 2007 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on November 5, 2007.
 


Public Service Ads: