Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Modest Proposal For Healthcare

For Providing Better Healthcare, Cleaning Up The Environment, And Saving Money
(Based on the Essay “A Modest Proposal”, by Jonathan Swift in 1729)

A new organization has been created on the West side of Manhattan. This is an organization dedicated to the betterment of humanity, the cleanliness of the earth and the causes of equality within and between all nations. The organization is called the Bastion of Urban Renewal and Progress (BURP).

This is a community organization which is staffed by people from all walks of life, as well as by experts in all areas of importance. We will be speaking to a variety of subjects throughout the coming months and years. The first issue that we wish to address is that of healthcare.

Our goal is to have universal healthcare for all people. People should not be without basic care, no matter what their circumstances. The biggest obstacle to this is money. Our President, Barack Obama, seemed to recognize this in his press conference in July when he spoke about healthcare. In that press conference, the word “money” was stated 21 times. Only four nouns were said more. Those were “health” – 72 times, “care” – 69 times (although the word “care” wasn’t always used as a noun), “insurance” – 34 times, and “people” – 31 times.

We are a bit disappointed about the obsession with money as we always felt that it was the republicans who were more obsessed over issues concerning money while our side was more concerned with issues dealing with quality of life, morality, and fairness. However, we recognize money as the necessary evil it is, at least for now, until we can put in place a more fair system and eliminate the need for this exchange of capitalistic greed.

So how do we provide healthcare for all people and how to we pay for it? We, at our organization (BURP) have devised a plan that will not only provide healthcare for all, but at the same time will not cost a cent! In fact, we expect our plan to make money! As a side benefit, we also expect our plan to go a long way toward cleaning up the environment and stopping the green house gasses that are heating our planet to such dangerous levels.

80% of healthcare costs are spent on the elderly. President Obama spoke to this issue when he said that he wasn’t sure if it was in everyone’s best interests that his grandmother got a hip replacement – we agree. Couldn’t the medical resources that went toward her hip replacement have been better served going to a child or a person with more years to live and contribute to society?

Much of the currently proposed healthcare reform comes from Tom Daschle’s book “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis”. Daschle says health-care reform “will not be pain free. Seniors should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them.” We agree with that statement as well, but we have some qualms about this and think that we can improve on its basic premise.

It is immoral to ask an elderly person to suffer. We don’t want the elderly to live with painful and debilitating conditions. At the same time, we don’t have the money to treat them because they will bankrupt the system and cost too much money. We can’t continue to spend 80% of healthcare costs on people who have nothing left to contribute but stories of bygone eras. We are a progressive nation and we must move forward.

As mentioned earlier in this proposal, we at our organization (BURP) have experts from all walks of life. One such expert is a chef in France by the name of Jean Aymard. Mr. Aymard assures us that an old person, if seasoned properly, can be cooked in a variety of ways to provide a most delicious and healthy meal. Old people provide a very tender meat because the muscular structure of their meat has diminished; creating a texture that is exquisite.

Old people can be served in a variety of ways. According to Mr. Aymard, the hips can make a T-bone steak that would be the envy of the finest steak house. Because there is so little muscle left on old people, a good portion of the meat can be made into an amazing filet mignon, far more so than in a cow, which contains a larger percentage of gristle and muscle.

There will be many ways of using this fine quality meat. Dipping an old person’s fingers in barbecue sauce will be a treat on a Friday night after a hard week of work. Boneless toe nuggets, either fried or baked, will be a tasty appetizer or hors d'oeuvres. Mr. Aymard also assures us that the breasts of an older woman can create a pâté that could be served at the finest cocktail parties. This pâté, served with green salad and potatoes, will be a delicacy to be envied and longed for. Other parts won’t go to waste either. There will be granny cold cuts sold in every supermarket. These cold cuts, we are assured by our resident expert, are lighter in fat content than turkey or chicken cold cuts.

Now we understand that this plan, however well intentioned it may be, could be criticized on certain moral grounds. So let us then look at the benefits of this plan. As Barack Obama said, we have to look very carefully at “end of life” decisions. We clearly can’t afford to give elderly people endless care and also provide universal care to everyone else. We don’t want our elderly people to suffer but we can’t afford to give them care. So by turning them into food, we are allowing them to do one last great thing in their life. Instead of becoming a burden to society, they become a benefit to society.

Old people, at the age of 70, can be taken to “Environmental Contribution Centers”. These centers will be located in beautiful beach front areas so that the old people can enjoy a last hurrah of life. They will be given only the finest foods, which will not only give them a great sendoff, but will fatten them up for the dinner table. They can enjoy a few rounds of golf (not too many, though, because we don’t want them to develop hardened muscular structure), ping pong, shuffle board and whatever else they wish to do. When their time comes, there will be a wonderful ceremony. Relatives will be invited to share in the gift of an elderly person sacrificing his or her life for the betterment of our country and our planet.

Putting this proposal into practice will not only free up 80% of healthcare costs for other, more productive members of society, but it will create a new enterprise that will make money. The Old People Meat market will be a multibillion dollar industry that will provide money for schools, infrastructure improvement and new jobs. It will be an economic boom!

The cruel and dirty business of slaughter houses will come to an end. There will be no need to raise turkeys, chickens, cattle, pigs and other livestock when we have an endless supply of healthy, wholesome meat. The environment will be better off. It takes a huge amount of space and resources to raise cattle. The grain to feed the cattle and the land that they take up can be used for our benefit, or it can go back to nature. In either case we will be better off for it as the raising of cattle takes up far too many resources. Cow flatulence, which is a huge contributor to global warming, will also be a thing of the past.

Animal activist groups, a number of which we have right here in our organization, such as PETA, will be happy that chickens and turkeys are no longer raised for food, suffering through their short lives to have a cruel destiny as food for some person’s selfish needs.

Of course there will have to be some exceptions to what we will affectionately refer to as “The Rule of 70”. For example, we have many resident experts right here in our organization (BURP) whose knowledge is invaluable to shaping the course of events and in creating the progressive society that we all yearn for. Because of the need for their skills and expertise, these people, despite their age, will be provided the full health care that will be provided to the society as a whole.

And so, dear comrades, you see how this proposal benefits society in so many ways. Sometimes it takes a good community activist organization to shine the light and show how to get things done. Our organization (BURP) is about making America a kinder, fairer and just country. Providing universal health care for all is just the beginning.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Life Under Obamacare

Johnny AveragePerson is 63 years old. He is in relatively good health. His wife passed away six years ago. He has a daughter living in Florida and a son who lives in New Jersey. Johnny lives in Brooklyn, New York and works at a bank, commuting into Manhattan each day.

Today is a pleasant spring day in May; Johnny has just gotten off the morning train and walks into the corner deli to get a doughnut and a cup of coffee. Let’s listen in!

Johnny: Let me get a chocolate doughnut and a regular cup of coffee with half and half.

Female Clerk: Can I see your medical ID card?

Johnny: Here you go (Digs in his wallet and hands her the card)

Female Clerk: Sir, I just scanned your card and it says that your cholesterol is high.

Johnny: I know, I just saw the doctor yesterday. He said it was a bit high but that it wasn’t anything to be concerned about.

Female Clerk: It’s above the limit to sell you a doughnut.

Johnny: That’s ridiculous! I always get a doughnut in the morning.

Female Clerk: I’m sorry (Hands Johnny back his medical ID card).

Johnny: Look, the doctor said my cholesterol wasn’t even high enough to warrant giving me Crestor. He said he would prescribe Crestor but he could only prescribe it if my cholesterol was higher!

Female Clerk: Would you like a bran muffin?

Johnny: No! I want a chocolate doughnut!

Female Clerk: I’m sorry. Look, there are other people in line. I can’t sell you a doughnut.

Johnny: So my cholesterol is too low to get Crestor and too high to buy a doughnut.

Female Clerk: (Getting annoyed) Sir, I don’t make the rules. Now if you’ll excuse me…

Johnny is so irritated when he walks out of the store that he trips on the door jam and falls awkwardly. He hurts his ankle and can’t get up. The clerk, with an annoyed look on her face, calls an ambulance which arrives an hour and a half later. They scoop Johnny up and take him to the hospital. At the hospital, they take x-rays. The doctor walks into the room holding a chart and smiles at Johnny.

Doctor: He puesto toda la información en su carta medica. Lleve la carta a una farmácia y ellos la prepararán la receta.

Johnny: I’m sorry I don’t speak Spanish

Doctor: Enfermera!!

Nurse: The doctor is putting all the information on your medical ID card. Take the card to the pharmacist and have this prescription for painkillers filled. He is listing this as a severe sprain so you should be good to go back to work in two weeks. It’s all down in your card so you shouldn’t have any problem with work compensation for lost time.

Johnny hobbles out of the hospital on crutches with a soft cast on his foot. He heads to the nearest pharmacy.

Johnny: Hi, I want to have a prescription filled.

Pharmacist: Well, let’s just see what we’ve got here. May I have your medical ID card please?

Johnny hands over his card...

Pharmacist: Let’s just put it in the scanner....

Johnny: Is there a problem?

Pharmacist: The scanner doesn’t seem to want to read your card. Did you put your card next to a magnet or some electronic device?

Johnny: No

Pharmacist: Well, I’m afraid you’re going to have to fill out this form to get a new medical ID card. You have to send the card and the form to this address, along with a $75 fee and you should have your new ID card in about 2 weeks.

Johnny: What about my pain killers. I’m in pain here!

Pharmacist: I can give you Advil, that’s it. I’m really sorry.

Johnny leaves the pharmacy and hobbles home. About two weeks go by. Johnny has not received his new card yet. He has not gotten paid anything from work or workman’s comp, or anything to cover his medical expenses. Worst of all, the pain in his ankle has gotten worse, not better. He can’t wait anymore and calls a number to get some help…

Johnny dials the phone: 1-8-8-8-U-S-A-H-E-A-L-T-H-C-A-R-E

Phone: Welcome to the United States Health Care System. Para información en español, marque ocho

Phone: If you would like to participate in a brief survey, please press 7 now.

Phone: If you are calling about finding a doctor, press 1. If you are calling about a claim, press 2. If you are calling about a lost or damaged card, press 3, If you are calling about our new super saver insurance plan, please press 4…

Johnny: Oh what the hell!…. Presses 2

Phone: Please enter you medical ID number, followed by the pound sign.

Johnny: Shoot, where did I put that claim form… Here it is. Presses: 02A9207C1-9965429B….waits….nothing happens…oh…presses #

Phone: Thank you. Please wait while we retrieve your records….OK, I’ve got your records here. What would you like to do? Press 1 if you would like to find a doctor, Press 2 if you are calling about a claim…

Johnny: I just did this!!

Phone: I’m sorry, I did not understand you. Press 1 if you would like to find a doctor, Press 2 if you are calling about a claim…

Finally after about 45 minutes, Johnny gets someone on the phone

Medical Rep: Good afternoon, this is Emir, how can I help you today?

Johnny: OK, I fell about two weeks ago. I hurt my ankle and they said it was a sprain but it’s been two weeks and it still really hurts. I haven’t been able to get any pain killers and I can’t get an appointment with the doctor because my card was damaged and I haven’t gotten any money back either and I’ve got bills to pay.

Emir: I think I can help you with that sir. May I have your medical ID number?

Johnny: 02A9207C19965429B

Emir: OK, I see your record. You sprained your ankle.

Johnny: I think it’s worse than a sprain. This is killing me!

Emir: Well, the x-rays were negative. I see that you’re 63 years old. Would you like to set up a counseling session?

Johnny: Counseling???? What the f#@% do I need counseling for?

Emir: We would have to schedule an MRI to see if there is any damage but that is very expensive and anyone over 60 is recommended to take counseling before we put them on the MRI waiting list.

Johnny: I’m really in pain here.

Emir: OK sir I can do that for you. I have to tell you though, that for people your age, I can’t guarantee an MRI for anytime within this month or next. There might be an opening in July. However if you take the counseling session, you might be able to get in there earlier.

Johnny: I’ll take the counseling session, if that’s the only thing I can do.

Emir: Very well. I can do that for you sir. Can you make it on Tuesday the 14th?

A meeting for counseling is set up. Johnny’s ankle has gotten very bad. He comes into the meeting sweating, not feeling well at all. He meets with a counselor by the name of Mica.

Mica: Mr. Averageperson, I’m very pleased to meet you! Please have a seat!

Johnny: Thank you. Listen I’m really not feeling well. I don’t need counseling. I need to see a doctor.

Mica: Mr. Averageperson, I think I can arrange to get you pills that will make you feel better.

Johnny: That would be great.

Mica: I’m going to be very frank with you Mr. Averageperson. Looking at you I can see that you are not well. The government just has so much money to spend on care and there are people who have a better chance of living longer, healthier lives than you do.

Johnny: I just hurt my ankle. This can be healed.

Mica: But at what cost Mr. Averageperson, at what cost?

Johnny: I’m not an old man!

Johnny disappeared soon after that. A couple of people in the Health Administration Department were reviewing some files and came upon that of Johnny Averageperson.

Person 1: We really didn’t handle this case well. This person should have gotten earlier treatment.

Person 2: Perhaps, but we must have saved, what, $50,000 all told? Maybe $100,000? Isn’t it our job to save money? I think we’ve handled this case extremely well!

In a small town in Arizona, a person by the name of Jonathan goes into his mailbox and pulls out an envelope from the government. It contains a check made out to Jonathan Averageperson for $106,000. Itemized for an MRI, x-rays, lost wages, medication and other incidental expenses.