Sunday, July 22, 2007

Best argument yet for US public health care

Here's an FAQ from a coalition of US physicians who say it's time to have a single payer health care system like Canada has.

Scrolling down to the bottom, I found this nugget -- answering the latest dead donkey the neo-cons make against universal coverage; that a government run system would result in fiascoes like Walter Reed:

As we consider what we can learn from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center debacle with regard to government-run efforts, some clarifications should be made:

1) Walter Reed Army Medical Center is an Army hospital and is run by the Department of Defense. The VA hospitals are run by the Veterans Administration (Veterans Health Administration) and are a separate structure. The reporting in the news media has clouded this fact and has led the public to presume that all government-run health efforts should be tarred and feathered and run out of town. Nevertheless, the VA health system continues to hold the position of the US health system with the most satisfied patients and one of the highest quality ratings for its use of information systems, access of patients to their medical records, transparency and accountability programs for dealing with medical errors, application of AHRQ quality guidelines to patient care for both inpatients and outpatients, and it won the Baldridge Prize (2004) for quality and patient-safety improvements.

2) There is a lot we can learn from the Walter Reed disgrace. Its operation was outsourced to a Halliburton-connected company in 2002, over the objections of some Army medical personnel and leadership, with a subsequent loss of government employees with institutional experience and a drastic reduction in staff. There was also some hanky-panky with the contracting process when the government employees’ bid for the operations contract came in lower than the Halliburton company’s bid, and the bids were subsequently “recalculated” to make the private company the lowest bidder.

Remember who used to run Halliburton? That's right!

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