Saturday, April 27, 2013

Are we a civilized country?

From my smart phone dictionary app:
1) having advanced or humane culture, society, etc.
2) polite; well-bred; refined
3) of or pertaining to civilized people
4) easy to manage or control; well organized or ordered

This thought came to mind in conjunction with the events of the week while reading an article regarding Medicaid in Reason, which I probably would have never read except that it came to me via @pharmagossip. @pharmagossip is an excellent twitter follow and blog out of the UK, which follows the pharmaceutical industry. The article argues for block grants for health care for the poor, under the premise that Medicaid pays so poorly that it is very difficult for Medicaid patients to get care, so difficult that people without insurance are “better off”.  The article highlighted some physicians who do some pro bono care and insisted that states could do a better job on their own.
First of all the idea that if you have no insurance physicians, hospitals, are much more anxious to see you then if you have crappy insurance plan-well, no. “No insurance” does not get you in any door, especially if it is clear you have no money with you. It is true that the Medicaid program has a lot of problems but this is mainly due to underfunding. The idea that if you put it through a block grant it could magically do more, no, it can’t. “Block grant” is code for “do whatever you want”. So when “welfare” was put into a block grant--temporary assistance for needy families (TANF)--states could do whatever they wanted and in fact frequently to do use it for state items other then poverty. 
My thought was that in a civilized country, maybe block grants for Medicaid could work. A state that really wanted to give health care to all, regardless of financial means might sit down with health care people and try to figure out just how much money was needed and see how far that money could go. But, emphasizing the first definition of “civilized”, i.e. humane, we do not live in a civilized country.

Does a humane country venerate previous leaders-regardless of the level of harm they inflicted? 

Does a humane country imprison people who have been determined innocent of original charges-and give them NO hope they will ever be released? When said people engage in a hunger strike to take control of their lives does a humane country force-feed them?

Does a humane country allow citizens who film violations of the law be criminalized? 

Does a humane country allow needless cuts to social services but ensures that flights arrive on time? 

Does a humane country allow millions to go unemployed for years, to face discrimination for BEING unemployed, and then elected officials of said country demonstrate no interest in a hearing designed to help the situation? 

I could make a longer list, I know some people would argue that we never were a civilized country, but still I have found this week difficult to bear. On the other hand, here in Chicago hundreds of low wage workers went on strike this last week to call for a living wage of $15.00 an hour, and there continues to be constant push-back against the CPS school closings. There is always hope in the people, if not their rulers.

No comments:

Post a Comment