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Low Income? Please Die.
We've got plenty of money to wage war in a country that didn't attack us, and had no WMD, all the while ignoring a bunch of terrorists who did attack us and all the countries that are nuked up (North Korea and Pakistan). What we don't have is enough dough to test poor women for breast and ovarian cancer, writes The New York Times Bob Herbert, and never mind that it saves money to detect it earlier rather than late:

So what did this president do? He proposed a cut in the program of $1.4 million (a minuscule amount when you're talking about the national budget), which would mean that 4,000 fewer women would have access to early detection.

This makes no sense. In human terms, it is cruel. From a budget standpoint, it's self-defeating.

"The program is really designed to help working women," said Dan Smith, a senior vice president at the American Cancer Society. "They may be working at a job that doesn't provide health insurance, but they're not the poorest of the poor who would qualify for Medicaid."

In many cases, these are women who do not have family doctors who might encourage them to be screened. The program offers free mammograms, Pap tests and other early detection services. "If they're diagnosed," said Mr. Smith, "there's a complementary program that allows them to be immediately insured so they can actually have the coverage for their treatment. That's a great program, as well."

"The early detection program is a good program because it has saved lives," said Dr. Harold Freeman, a senior adviser to the Cancer Society. "The women who are served come from a population that has a proven higher death rate from cervical and breast cancer."

He added: "It's hard to get into the health care system when you are asymptomatic. It's much easier to get into the system if you're obviously sick, if you're bleeding or in pain. But the problem with cancer is, if you're going to be cured, you have to get in before those kinds of symptoms occur. So these women need to be screened."

Dr. Freeman, a New York physician who has long specialized in the prevention and treatment of cancer, made it clear that his first concern was the health and quality of life of his patients. But then he addressed what he characterized as the "shortsighted" economic rationale for the budget cut.

"It won't save money," he said. "You don't save money by not diagnosing cancer early. You end up spending more money because anyone who develops cancer will get into the health care system and they will be treated. And the cost at that point will be a lot more. The logic here is very simple: the later you diagnose cancer of the breast or cervix, the more expensive it is to the country."

Now, I'm not for national health care for everyone, but I think poor people should be given coverage. Why? It's simply the civilized thing to do.

Posted by aalkon at March 20, 2006 10:27 AM

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Nice setup for your arguement. The great thing is that if we establish that Iraq did attack us, and did have an extensive WMD program, testing poor women would still be a great idea.

Posted by: Terrence at March 20, 2006 9:18 AM

The Goddess writes:

Now, I'm not for national health care for everyone

Why not? I am. We're the only industrialized nation that doesn't have national health care.

Posted by: Patrick at March 20, 2006 10:05 AM

The Goddess writes:

Now, I'm not for national health care for everyone

Why not? I am. We're the only industrialized nation that doesn't have national health care.

Posted by: Patrick at March 20, 2006 10:06 AM

Yes, God forbid that anybody should have to shell out $100 for their own health testing. I know, they'd probably have to switch to a cellphone plan with lower minutes or something to afford it, but you have to start somewhere.

Posted by: mark-o at March 20, 2006 10:13 AM

That works out to $350.00 per woman... amazing what our country's Christian priorities are. How much are we spending on Saddams lawyers before we hang him?

In this age of the internet, wouldn't it be great if we could all vote where our tax dollars should be used? A form you file each year that allowed you to allocate a certain percentage to certain programs?

Posted by: eric at March 20, 2006 10:34 AM

Why just healthcare? Hey, I came over from USSR - there we had not just healthcare, we had education, pensions, jobs - everyhting was provided. Oh, what a joy that was. I vividly remember millions of Americans immigrating to our country. Of course, I was too stupid to realize how great and equal and glorious it was - to have no correlation between how much you produce and how much you spend - so I came here. I was all alone on the plave - nobody wante to go to capitalism, since to all but me it was clear - capitalism was trying to work against the Laws of Nature and was doomed. Doomed, I tell you!

Posted by: M.B. at March 20, 2006 10:41 AM

And the moral principle that allows you to take the produce of my labor to benefit you is what? So you want to donate your money to provide for others well-being - what is stopping you? In the meantime get your hands out of my wallet. I have two children, one of whom has had six operations which I have paid for by virtue of my hard work. I'll take care of mine and you take care of yourself. Otherwise, I get a lot more say in what you do and how you live than you want me to have.

Posted by: RKV at March 20, 2006 11:25 AM

Your timing was perfect. I just skewered this Saturday:

Patrick is still quoting from the 1970's playbook, I see. Clearly he doesn't followup the Pajamas Media articles that don't look properly templated.

Posted by: Assistant Village Idiot at March 20, 2006 12:45 PM

Your timing was perfect. I just skewered this Saturday:

Patrick is still quoting from the 1970's playbook, I see. Clearly he doesn't followup the Pajamas Media articles that don't look properly templated.

Posted by: Assistant Village Idiot at March 20, 2006 12:46 PM

Guess what? Your money is going to get taken for poor women's catastrophic health care after they come down with cancer that needs treatment -- but that could have been prevented with a rather inexpensive test. I'm not talking about paying for everbody's care -- I shudder to think of the government taking over care for everyone -- bad enough that I have Kaiser Communiste, uh, Permanente. What I'm talking about is giving the poor testing -- people who are so poor they can't afford the week's beans, for example, not the people dialing back from a Blackberry to a RAZR. Sure, they should have been more responsible, blah blah blah, but guess what, they weren't. And I'm a capitalist, but I'm not for capitalism entirely without humanity. And FYI, I've always paid for health insurance even at my most struggling.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 20, 2006 5:13 PM

Aren't you the one who said "Enough With The Govern-Nannying" yesterday? Why does "humanity" compel us to care for people's longest-term health, but not other aspects of their life?

Posted by: Crid at March 20, 2006 9:13 PM

Crid -- You don't have to be a great humanist to support universal health care. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to see it as just another type of infrastructure, along with good roads, transportation systems, public schools, a competent police force, etc. -- Weener

Posted by: Lena at March 20, 2006 9:44 PM

I don't support the war in Iraq, but we're a community as a nation, so I wouldn't withhold my tax dollars in protest, even though I think we should have flattened Afghanistan and left Iraq and it's WMDs in about the same condition we've left North Korea and theirs.

Are there really that many very poor people? What of their children? Should they suffer because their parents aren't financially flush? I am fiscally more conservative than probably most people who post here -- I don't think we should have to pay for the schooling of anybody who isn't dirt poor, for example. But, I'm not without humanity, and having humanity means giving basic health care to the very poor. Not people who overspent at Fred Segal, but the people whose kids go hungry from time to time, and the like.

I'm not talking about Cedars-Sinai level care. I'm talking about county clinics with basic preventive health care, including tests for breast and ovarian cancer and prostate cancer and AIDs, and other basic preventive health care.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 20, 2006 11:39 PM

That's proposterous! Say what you want about the Interstate Highway system, but eventually we stopped building it. Or at least it's growth never threatened fully to overwhelm the landscape. Health care's not 'infrastructural,' and there's no reason to imagine it can be... At least no more than food growth and distribution is.

Lefties, righties, old folks 'n' younguns, EVERYONE seems to cling to the fantasy that our crisis in health care economics can be cured by something other than bringing interested & individual consumer attention to each & every transaction. Like no one on Earth, Americans excel at finding bargains. The more socialist or compassionate the policy, the less likely we are to exploit this precious skill. The problem is not that people just aren't loving enough, or that we don't like Hillary's hairdos.

I'm tired of hearing how other nations handle these things so much better, when the United States sets the stage for the global economy (and global security). Canada wouldn't be Canada if it wasn't sitting under the American military umbrella, and enjoying the other benefits of our casual friendship. It's like asking Dad why he can't be as nonchalant with house payments as the 12-year-old is with video game money from his paper route.

Posted by: Crid at March 20, 2006 11:46 PM

WHoops, that last one was replying to Lena...

Posted by: Crid at March 20, 2006 11:47 PM

So you want the same government that runs Amtrack to provide your healthcare? The same one that couldn't provide body armor for all its troops? The one that is so efficient that even though they had a monopoly on mail delivery, every business uses Fedex and UPS instead?

In Canada, it is illegal to go to a private doctor. Gee, I wonder why?

Posted by: nash at March 21, 2006 5:52 AM

Hear tell that if you're in high government or big business, that whole "waiting lis" thing isn't such a biggie. And of course 90% of the population is witjn 200 miles of the Unitedv States of America. So there's always options.

Posted by: crid at March 21, 2006 9:22 AM

Until recent years I was not in favor of national health care. Like Amy, I did think that the very poor, especially the children, should be well cared for. I honestly don't know if I'm for some sort of national healthcare system now, but I can tell you something needs to change.

I have Kaiser Permanente. Like Amy I don't like it much. They often suck. For example, my birth mother died at 36, the same age I am now, of breast cancer, and I still have to fight EVERY damn year for my mammogram. The problem is I CAN'T change my health insurance.

Before I worked for myself, I had Kaiser through work. During an exam several years ago they discovered I have one kidney. I was born that way apparently, and it works great, my one big ole kidney. When I left the company I did the Cobra thing, which allowed me to pay for the same insurance myself for 18 months. This is when I discovered I couldn't get insurance elsewhere. I'm healthy, I don't smoke, drink or do drugs. But I have one kidney, so no one else will insure me. Kaiser has to keep me as long as I'm willing to pay my monthly $313, so for a family of four, the others being my healthy husband, my healthy 15-year old and my healthy 6 month old, we pay $700 a month.

Something needs to change somewhere. I don't know what has to happen, unfortunately, but I would hope there are people somewhere out there who are trained and paid to figure it out.

Posted by: Kimberly at March 21, 2006 9:05 PM

I, too, had to go through a disgusting fight with my doctor, Kaiser's Dr. Judith Mann, also known as Judy Mann, practicing out of the Culver-Marina Kaiser, to get an additional checkup in addition to a mammogram due to physical makeup and family history. It took me one office visit, two letters, two phone calls, including the final one in which I screamed at her to get to a breast surgeon who listened to my family history for 20 seconds, and not only gave me an ultrasound, but screened me for the BRCA gene. I sent Mann a number of studies -- and I know how to read studies -- to prove how high my risk factor is -- in addition to telling her my family history. Until I screamed at her, she refused to budge. The best, though, was when she actually wrote back and mailed me a bunch of studies she'd Googled -- which, actually, said what I'd been saying to her all along! -- that with my family history and other risk factors, I needed additional screening. Yes, it's THAT hard to get a fucking ultrasound, and from a health care provider I pay ($235 monthly, also after I was COBRA'd in by a company in NYC I used to work for). National health care can only be worse -- still, I think poor people shouldn't be made to suffer and die unnecessarily just because they're poor.

And just a note about my Kaiser struggle: I could understand if I was put off because I was some full-body-scan-demanding hypochondriac. But, I don't worry that my pancreas is going to fall out -- I just think it's prudent to keep an eye on areas you have an elevated risk factor for. Duh!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 21, 2006 11:12 PM

Everyone on the surface of the globe has a story about how health care didn't work out for them. The question is, why would spreading this responsibility MORE broadly make things go better?

Consider universal food distribution as implied above. If we nationalized our diets in the same manner some want for health care, do you think *your* lunch would be tastier and more nutritious? Don't you think this would be an equivalent effort in terms of government intrusiveness? Don't you think this would be an equivalent abdication of individual responsibility?

Posted by: Crid at March 22, 2006 2:37 AM

Assistant Village Idiot:

Patrick is still quoting from the 1970's playbook, I see. Clearly he doesn't followup the Pajamas Media articles that don't look properly templated.

Blabitty-blah-blah-blah. Don't blame me for the fact that you misrepresented nearly everything I said in our last discussion, and were unable to come up with a response once you were corrected.

Posted by: Patrick at March 22, 2006 2:44 AM

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