Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Hard Sell Begins

I try to read the newspaper with an open mind. Not an accepting mind, but an open one for new ideas, challenging viewpoints, previously unseen perspectives and additional information. I've always read the major newspaper from the big city nearest where I live. When I was in Mesa, it was the Arizona Republic. In Alamogordo, it was the El Paso Times. In Colorado Springs it was both the Colorado Springs Gazette and the Denver Post.

Today, I live north of Dallas and that means the Dallas Morning News. That isn't a good thing. They are deep in the liberal tank. I've tried to be objective, but can conclude nothing else. One need only check their front page every day for a week or two. There may be huge issues afoot in the world, but what the DMN will offer you is a human interest story on the front above the fold. You'll find little about N. Korea's latest adventures. Not much about Iran's weapons program. Certainly nothing about Israel's challenges or Russia's resurgent adventurism.

No, you'll find a sad tale about a single mother of four who has no job, is eight months delinquent in her rent, faces eviction, will lose her children by court order because of impending drug charges and needs health insurance. Or, maybe there will be a deep analysis of the homeless wandering the streets of downtown Dallas and the nutritional content of the offerings of the soup kitchens.

This Sunday they've started the hard sell for Obamacare. They've got it localized, of course. There's the picture of a poor mother with lupus getting a treatment and not knowing how to pay for it when she reaches her maximum coverage point. Inside there is the self-employed couple working from home in a business selling "book holders". They are pinching pennies by using clamp-on reading lights on their laptop computers while working on the kitchen table with the overhead flourescents turned off! They opt for $6000 deductible health insurance and complain that they are paying a lot.

Inside there is five full pages of pictures and text of the need for a national healthcare plan. Take a look:

This Week We Focus on the Healthcare Problem in America

Now, let us stand back and try to detach the DMN's obvious bias. Dallas has an incredible network of quality healthcare providers in the city such as Baylor Medical Center or SMU. They've got a huge infrastructure of suburban medical center complexes. There is no care that you cannot receive in Dallas. If you expand to the entire state of Texas, the choices get even better. MD Anderson's Cancer Center in Houston is world renowned. The burn services available in the San Antonio area are best in the world.

What's the kicker headline of the DMN piece today? "Competition Drives Up Costs"!!!

Yes, despite monopoly being counter-productive to cost efficiency in every other enterprise in the world, the DMN found someone to say that competition doesn't work in healthcare.

Why? Well, the reason given is that when you have competition you will have doctors seeking to make profit...duh! Yes, and they do that by prescribing unneeded tests and examinations! Excuse me, how many times have you personally experienced a wrong diagnosis? I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when I was 26 years old. It was a wrong diagnosis.

Doctors prescribe tests for two reasons and neither of them are profit motivated. First, they prescribe tests to narrow the possibilities and rule out or confirm causes of symptoms. Doctors are not prescient. They can't say conclusively, "your acid reflux is caused by a faulty esophogeal valve, let's go to surgery." They have to scope you, x-ray, cat-scan, MRI and maybe ultra-sound you to insure they have found the cause. Thankfully the "exploratory surgery" of the 1950's is a thing of the past.

Second, they prescribe tests as defensive medicine. A mis-diagnosis can be damaging to a patient, but unfortunately our laws have made a physician's mistake disastrous for the doctor. Failure to conduct a relevant test can lead to loss of a malpractice suit which can result in huge damage awards, so doctors pay exorbitant premiums for malpractice insurance. If they don't also minimize their risks, they will see those premiums escalate still further.

Elimination of competition will only result in deterioration of healthcare. We will lose our defense against mis-diagnosis, doctors will lose access to necessary diagnostic tools, the monopolistic single-payer will control funding leading to escalating costs to meet infrastructure requirements while at the same time rationing what care we receive.

The Dallas Morning News is going to devote a full week to building the Obamacare case and since they are the only major newspaper in the area, the case for the defense will not be heard. We will learn during this week of more human interest cases, lots of bad doctors, scandals in our best hospitals, limited access for the "unfortunates" of our society, and the nasty ol' obscene profits of anybody trying to make a living.

We won't hear anything about the failures and impending financial collapse of Medicare or the squandering of Medicare funds on Medicaid. We won't get an analysis of the very economical and efficient Medicare Advantage programs that are on the chopping block. We won't learn about the tax impacts of Obamacare nor a relationship to that elusive "tax cut for 95% of working families." We won't pick at the dirty scab that is government VA care despite the cesspool of a major VA center in S. Dallas. Nope. We are going to learn that Obamacare is the solution to stamping out competition and profit.

I don't think I can read it all without gagging. I'll depend on my other newspaper for news this week, the Wall Street Journal. The DMN will be good only for sports and comics.


jjet said...

Um, why continue to subsidize a company with whose outlook, philosophy and politics you so obviously disagree?

Being "open minded" is a wonderful thing. But buying a subscription to this fishwrapper helps them to stay in business.

I cancelled mine over 15 years ago.

Ditto the Ft Worth StartleGram.

Ed Rasimus said...

I "subsidize" the company because:

1.) I believe in the intel maxim to "know our enemy".
2.) I approach issues with an open mind.
3.) I don't need reinforcement for what I already know, I need a source for what others may think they know.
4.) I get paid to teach State & Local government to college classes in TX and reading the Austin Statesman would be worse.
5.) I like local sports coverage, local business news, local enterainment reviews, comics and the daily NTY crossword puzzle.
6.) I've got a morbid interest in seeing which City Council members will be indicted next and if Lupe Valdez can remain sheriff despite failure to manager her department for going on eight straight years now.