Keane observations about life, politics and sports.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

There she goes again

The subject title refers to Sen. Clinton being caught lying during her stump speech again. This is a little dated as I was out of town for a couple days. However, it is still worth commenting on since this one is fundamentally different than exaggerating the dangers she faced when traveling as first lady. The lie about being under sniper fire in Tuzla was inserted in her speeches to burnish her reputation as more experienced than her primary opponent, Sen. Obama. For those unfamiliar with the recent bit of fiction, here is a quick run down. In an attempt to demonstrate the need to nationalize a major sector of our economy, Clinton has been telling a story she heard that a pregnant woman here in Ohio didn't have insurance and died after she was turned away by a hospital because she couldn't pay. Unsurprisingly, that the story was false. Hospitals don't work that way. Additionally, it turns out the woman in question, Trina Bachtel, did in fact have insurance. The reason I said this one was different is because this fabrication was about advancing policy. You can't get consensus to enact major change, especially change that will cost trillions of dollars, without portraying the current system as not just expensive or broken, but down right evil. This is nothing new, putting a human face on a problem has long been in the politicians play book to convince the clueless that government is the answer to a perceived problem. That is the way to increase the size and power of government. Separately, lying to demonize the health or pharmaceutical industries has been done many times in the past. Most notably, in the 2000 campaign former vice president Al Gore repeatedly claimed that his mother-in-law and his dog took the same medicine (Lodine) and cited the large difference in price to show the need for greater government involvement. Beyond the oddness factor of his mother-in-law taking the same medicine as the dog, and him getting the costs for the pills from a information from a House Democratic study, and not from his family medical bills, was he saying he expects the same quality in a product made for his mother-in-law as that made for an animal? I hope not.

Oh yeah, back to Clinton's story. . . . Why didn't the campaign bother checking out the facts after being told the story second hand? The story fit in their warped view of our present health care system. They think it is broken and needs more government bureaucracy in order to run more efficiently. Crazy, huh? Truth is, medical professionals in our country do a very good job despite the efforts of our government and the legal profession. If anyone really wants to assign blame for health care being expensive for those who actually pay for their own care they have two directions to point. The biggest cause for increased cost of care is covering those unable to pay for their care. If we require hospitals to care for the indigent it doesn't magically happen for free. For example, if a hospital treats patient "A" for free and uses various medical supplies, then the cost of that treatment and those supplies gets added to the bill of patient "B" who has medical coverage. The other culprit is, of course, lawyers. Our overly litigious society has led to two "advances" in medicine. First, all physicians pay exorbitant insurance which in turn gets added to patient "B" bills. Secondly, because of fear of potential legal liability doctors frequently order medical tests not necessitated by the patients condition just to cover their six. Are there problems with our health care system? Sure, but more government involvement won't make it better.


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