More About Culling of the Sick in TN. Also, Bush Weighs In


Two weeks ago I detailed the government’s offensive, destructive policy of slashing Medicaid in my post, Vigorously Insisting On A More Perfect Union: Fighting Cuts, Demanding Universal Health Care.

But last year and the year before that, I was blogging in posts like this, about the cuts to Tennessee Medicaid, the largest cuts in Medicaid history.

Their governor pursued the wholesale dis-enrollment of over 300,000 Tennesseans. Termination letters went out, and then the state stopped providing needed medications and home care people could not get elsewhere. Not surprisingly, when you remove life-sustaining aid, people begin to die. Visionary journalist Sharon Cobb documented the real stories behind these cuts, including the funerals, in the hard-hitting documentary 323,000. Everyone should watch it.

Also, a new documentary on the culling of the sick and poor in Tennessee has just been brought to my attention. It’s called Collateral Damage: Bad Medicine in Tennessee. Here is the trailer:

This is one of the most egregious betrayals of basic morality I’ve ever seen, and it’s provoked barely a yawn from the public, and the profit-driven news media is all “OMG Britney shaved her head!” and “LOOK! a stripper who had no impact on anyone ODed! we must cover what will happen to the corpse 24/7! it’s a slow news week, not like we have a war going on…oh wait….”

There is a deep spiritual sickness in this country. The media, the attacks on the weak, all of it is an outgrowth of this spiritual sickness among the population. It is a spiritual issue because none of this injustice would be possible if people weren’t so severely sick spiritually that injustice is a-ok to them (if they were spiritually repaired they would never allow injustice, they’d break the doors down to stop it.)

The TennCare crisis has gotten little response from the politicians. Letters from dying citizens went unanswered. But last week, buried in this story in The Washington Post, I found a comment on the situation from President Bush, who, if he were a responsible leader, would be running a TennCare war room 24/7 until he’d ensured all those devastated by the cuts were okay.

You’ll be shocked by his take on the issue:

Bush hailed the governor, Phil Bredesen, for his “innovative policies,” as he talked up his new plan to increase coverage of the uninsured by tinkering with the tax code and giving states more flexibility to design low-cost benefit plans for those who lack coverage.

That’s right, the president “hailed” hundreds of thousands losing their coverage and many losing life-sustaining care as a good “innovation.” Ugh.

Bush goes on to detail what he sees as the problem and the solution:

“Right now there’s a limited market for the individual; it makes it hard to find a product that either suits your needs or you can afford,” Bush told his Chattanooga audience….he bantered with several hundred audience members, arguing for greater transparency in health-care pricing. “I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember ever asking how much something was going to cost when it came to health care. I do when it comes to a car — or I used to,” Bush said…

The president honestly believes the problem is that health care is not free market enough, that if we only shopped around for health care like we shop for a car, costs would be lower.

It ignores totally the reality that most sick and disabled people needing medical assistance don’t have money or income to shop in the first place. He ignores the immorality of demanding protection money from dying people.

This belief in free market theology which I discussed earlier, the idea that we should cut back Medicaid as much as possible so the free market can create innovative solutions, has proven incredibly destructive to human life, but the idea seems more important to conservatives that the “collateral damage.”

Health care is life and death, it’s not something to be ceded to market forces. Public health is even more crucial for government to provide than roads, libraries and schools.

Given the mountains of evidence out there that Medicaid cuts devastate the community, given all the books that have been written and all the documentaries that have been made, our government should have moved beyond this by now.

We must demand we move forward in ’08.