Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Bush healthcare plan post-Katrina: Don't Get Sick.

In his state of the union speech, President Bush said about one paragraph about Katrina relief and pledged $18 billion to the effort this year. This is about the least he could say, and the money is a fraction of the $70 billion in new tax cuts that are being proposed right now in Congress. Let's be honest; the situation in New Orleans is no more a concern for this administration than it has been since the day they took office.

So we should perhaps not be surprised, though we may be apalled at the present state of health care in New Orleans, especially for the uninsured.

in this flooded city there is only one for the uninsured and it doesn’t treat broken bones....

In the same concrete structure where thousands of fleeing families waited in vain for food and water, they now wait for medical care, dispensed by a skeletal staff of doctors working out of a collection of military tents.

Inside their plastic and canvas walls, the doctors can only offer the most rudimentary care: They can X-ray bones, but not set them. They can draw blood and diagnose an ailment, but not treat it beyond prescribing pills. And with no ER and no capacity to operate, they can’t do much more than stabilize trauma patients before sending them by ambulance elsewhere, often far away.

These tents are all that remain of Charity Hospital, the 270-year-old institution which for generations was the medical epicenter of the city’s uninsured....

“If you have cancer, my advice is move. If you need dialysis, go. Get out of here. If you have any major illness and are uninsured, we cannot possibly accommodate your needs. You will die sooner if you stay here,” said Dr. Peter DeBlieux, the head of emergency services for what remains of Charity Hospital.

This is what you see typically in third world countries, not in America. Conditions like this may have been understandable (though not acceptable) in the days immediately after the disaster, but this is February! SIX MONTHS LATER! And not a dime has even been appropriated to build a hospital that caters to the uninsured here (I guess the next round of the GOP's unending parade of tax cuts is more important.)

What is really amazing to me is how the President bragged in his 2004 state of the union address about how much we were spending to build hospitals in Iraq, but they can't even come up with the money to rebuild one in New Orleans.

President Bush did not cause Katrina (the effects of global warming over the decades notwithstanding). But by turning his back on this situation, it is clear that what we see happening today in New Orleans is the President's vision for health care in America. If you are uninsured and break your arm, well maybe they can write you a prescription for it, and then hope you can at least pay the pharmacy. Does anyone doubt that a new generation of 'snake oil salesmen' and charletans with at best a rudimentary knowledge of medicine treating desperate people on the black market can't be far behind, if it isn't here already?


Anonymous said...

That must be an older article. As of last week we now have three hospitals open in New Orleans (2 for adults) with 2 ER's, along with the MASH unit in the convention center. It's not much but it is more than we had. Last I heard, in St Bernard, heath care consisted of a couple of trailers - thats it. Also, the stress levels so high that strokes and heart attacks seem to be happening every time you turn around. Since the storm, personally I know 5 people who have had strokes and 3 or 4 with heart attacks.

We are also being beaten up by fires. With 13 out of 26 trucks gone and 10 closed stations it's bad. Water preasure is often low and instead of working in 4 man teams they are doing 3 so firemen are getting hurt trying to do their jobs. The city can't afford overtime so every shift is short on manpower.

I could go on and on about all of the basic needs that are compromised. You would not believe.

If you want to help - write to your representitives in DC. Ask them to tour the area. Less than 30% of them have done so. It is impossable to grasp the scope of this without actually seeing it.


Eli Blake said...


The article is dated yesterday. It focuses on the uninsured (in fact it does acknowledge that there are several hospitals running, but that they don't treat the uninsured.)

I will ask my Congressman to tour the area but it is likely a waste of time-- he doesn't even live in Arizona, he is a Virginian who bought a house in Flagstaff and spent big bucks to get elected to Congress. In odd numbered years, he only sleeps in his 'house' about ten times, when he is in town for photo ops.

Eddie81 said...

I am so glad that I live in a world where I am responsible for taking care of myself and my family. Thank goodness I do not live in your world, where the government is responsible for everyone.


fosco said...

Eddie must be invincible, infallible, unable to become victimized by any circumstance, and must also be3 certified in a variety of disciplines including medicine and teaching.

I knew a man who spoke the same way, until his wife became terminally ill and he had to cope with three small children and working. I knew another person who had the same view, until he had an accident and was no longer able to do the construction work he did before and had to apply for a whole new career. For lucky people with unlimited resources and unlimited opportunities, who are immune from nature,accidents, or their own physicality... but who lives in that world?

its easier to blame people and forget that government is paid ALOT to care about the real world as it is, not what people argue it to be.

Eli, thanks for the post.

Eli Blake said...


This post dealt with healthcare for the uninsured. If you live in N.O., are uninsured, and break your arm, they will write you a prescription, and nothing else. Explain how this is a 'good world' to live in.