Last night, I attended Tarryl Clark’s health forum. The panelists for this discussion were John Marty, Tarryl, Larry Haws & Larry Hosch. Steve Gottwalt also attended for the first half hour before leaving for another commitment.

The first thing that caught my attention was something that Loretta Linus said:

“The doctors are wonderful. You get good care. And it just makes me mad when they talk about how they have to come over here to get good care & that’s not true.”

After rambling a bit, Ms. Linus continued, saying this:

“Now they say that Canadians have to come over here for good treatment. Well don’t you believe it. Don’t you believe it one bit. That government is so good to all its people. I don’t care if you’re rich or poor. They take care of you. And so many of the people come & they talk crap about how awful their system is. Well, don’t you believe it. Single payer is wonderful if it’s run right.”

The funniest moment came when Larry Haws talked about all the different problems with our current system. At the end, here’s what he said:

“There, I’ve framed the problem but I haven’t framed the solution.”

Anyone can identify problems. It takes a man of depth to identify solutions. Rep. Haws is a nice man but a wonk he isn’t.

A significant portion of the forum was spent talking about how good single payer is. Another significant portion of the forum focused on mental health needs. Some of the stories were truly heart-wrenching. One gentleman talked about how he had to call into the state at 9:00 am on behalf of his son, who has a mental health illness. This gentleman said that sometimes the lines were all busy. Other times, he’d get through, then get put on hold for several hours.

When I heard that, I thought to myself “That wouldn’t be tolerated at a private company. Companies would go bankrupt if they did that day after day.” That’s why I take exception to Ms. Linus’ statement that “Single payer is wonderful if it’s run right.” This gentleman’s story tells me all I need to know about government doing things efficiently.

Another woman from the Greater Minnesota Health Care Coalition actually said this:

“We don’t need health insurance. We need health care.”

FYI- Greater Minnesota Health Care Coalition is a leading advocate for single payer universal health care. Here’s their mission statement & vision statement:

Mission Statement

The Greater Minnesota Health Care Coalition is a grass roots organization which strives to build a democratic culture, develop leadership from citizens, and provide opportunities for meaningful participation to address economic and social injustice. We seek to unite Greater Minnesota citizens and their organizations, to create positive social change on health care and other issues. We are committed to providing some service programs to our members in a manner that directly supports and enhances our efforts on issues.

Vision Statement

The Greater Minnesota Health Care Coalition represents the interests of all citizens in Greater Minnesota on health care and other issues of economic and social justice.

  1. We seek changes that promote the health and well-being of all citizens and correct the great economic inequalities in our society.
  2. We seek to help build a society that lives out the values of compassion, integrity, meaningful relationships, and mutual accountability.

TRANSLATION: We’re socialists. We believe that government has to correct the injustices, real or imagined, of the free market.

Finally, the last thing that caught my attention was John Marty’s statement that we had to view health care as a “community need” like we think of the police or fire departments.

Let’s work through that logically. If we accept the fact that some perscription drug prices are higher through the private sector, then the next logical question is why. The biggest reason is because the pharmaceuticals have to make up for the profits lost because of perscription drugs bought by the government. It’s the same principle that’s at work with the uninsured showing up in ER’s. Somebody’s got to pick up that cost.

Anyone that thinks that pharmaceutical companies will invest tons of R & D money on drugs with limited profit potential is kidding themselves. As I told Eric at Liberal in the Land of Conservative, the VA hospital system is socialized medicine. When they ‘negotiate’ perscription drug prices, it’s negotiation at gunpoint.

That’s what we’d have with single payer. The federal government would ‘negotiate’ at gunpoint. That’s what it’d be whether we’re talking perscriptions or doctors’ fees. Likewise, why would people sign up for medical school when they see the government telling doctors that they’ll regulate how much they get paid for each procedure?

Talk with a behavioral scientist sometime. They’ll tell you that the best way to increase good results & reduce bad results is to reward good behavior & punish bad behavior.

Socialism punishes everybody.

FYI– Before anyone accuses me of using the term socialism to scare people, let me poitn out that a woman who identified herself as a retired nurse at the St. Cloud VA Hospital told me it was a perfect example of how wonderful socialized medicine works. I’m accepting her word on it.

Frankly, I wish I’d thought of this followup question when I was talking with her:

Who says that it’s a wonderful system? Do the patients think it’s a terrific system? The doctors? The nurses? If the doctors & nurses think it’s a great system but the patients’ needs aren’t met, then how valid is this woman’s opinion? Isn’t this a purely subjective opinion?

How do we know that her opinion is accurate?

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