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Proviso Probe

Thursday, August 02, 2007

How Stroger Hospital pinches pennies on health care

The U.S. health care system doesn't work.

Opponents of single-payer health care whine about waiting for health care in countries with national health care. But plenty of people are denied health care or have to wait for it in the United States. We just don't pay attention to how long Americans have to wait to receive basic health care services.

Kevin Drum (Political Animal) had a pithy quote for smacking down those who oppose national health care.
The only reason we even know [countries with national health care] have waiting times is because they measure it. We [Americans] don't. That doesn't mean we don't have waiting times. It just means we don't know how long they are, which in turn implies that we don't have any interest in reducing them. After all, if we did, we'd measure them, wouldn't we?

ABC7 (Leah Hope):
Cook County Board President Todd Stroger says the county is bearing too much responsibility for the uninsured and needed to take this step.

"Our hospital tries to make sure if we can't see people immediately, that we can connect them with hospitals that do, so when the list gets too long, we try to put something together where we'll talk to the other hospitals and see who they will take," said Stroger.

Stroger, who himself was had prostate cancer detected early, says other facilities should step up to help patients in need of preventive care.

"Unfortunately, we can't carry the full load for everyone who can't pay, so some of the other hospitals will have to take some of that," Stroger said.

The way U.S. society is supposed to work in the Chicago area is that if you don't have health care privately the Cook County system is your back-up.

But the back-up system is overburdened. One can make the argument that Stroger has blown a few million hiring cronies that don't need to be on payroll. And it's almost assuredly true, but how much extra health care could be provided by cutting waste?

And the demand that Cook County government eliminate all waste before getting more money for services is unreasonable. No big organization functions without redundancy and waste.

Let's get back to what real people face when they go to the Cook County health care system. Stroger is saying that to deal with the Cook County system being overburdened it is policy to deny people services and hope that other hospitals provide the services. Legally, hospitals are only required to accept patients who can't pay when the health condition becomes so acute that it would be a crime to turn them away.

So, people are expected to go from hospital to hospital until they get really sick. Aren't you proud to be an American?

BTW, breast cancer rates for Black women are higher than for "White" women. And Chicago Black women have it particularly bad. And that was before the cuts.

WBEZ's Eight Forty Eight:
Last fall, the Sinai Urban Health Institute found that the mortality rate among black women in Chicago was 68 percent higher than that of their white counterparts.

That’s far higher than the national rate -- and the gap is getting wider.

BTW, has anybody seen Sicko by Michael Moore?

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