Archive for August 29th, 2009

by Jay Stevens

You won’t believe the latest from Bozeman’s PERC. Un-frickin’-believable. In it, Terry Anderson roasts the Indian Health Service:

Unfortunately, Indians are not getting healthier under the federal system. In 2007, rates of infant mortality among Native Americans across the country were 1.4 times higher than non-Hispanic whites and rates of heart disease were 1.2 times higher. HIV/AIDS rates were 30% higher, and rates of liver cancer and inflammatory bowel disease were two times higher. Diabetes-related death rates were four times higher. On average, life expectancy is four years shorter for Native Americans than the population as a whole….

Anderson rags on IHS for another four paragraphs – higher disease rates on reservations, personal stories of medical malpractice in IHS clinics, wasted equipment, etc & co.

You know, a lot of this criticism is valid.

Here’s the kicker, though. Anderson points to “tribal contracting” as a possible panacea to IHS’ woes, and ends his op-ed with this line:

At a time when Americans are debating whether to give the government in Washington more control over their health care, some of the nation’s first inhabitants are moving in the opposite direction.

A. The IHS is socialized health care. There’s no socialized health care in the proposed Congressional reform. Comparing IHS to the proposed reform is like comparing apples to math. It’s dumb. Or it’s deliberately misleading. Choose your poison.

B. PERC – another Bozeman “free market” “think tank” – just touted replacing one socialized health care system with another…that still uses federal dollars. Is Anderson’s point here that we should have socialized medicine for all, funded by federal dollars, but run by local government? Really? I suspect Anderson’s just using this op-ed to trash any federal involvement in health care, and going a roundabout way of promoting privatized health care systems. But…

C. The problems that plague IHS are much more complicated than simply that the federal government is involved. Why, read this June AP report from Clare Jalonick – which, apparently, Anderson liberally cribbed from for his WSJ op-ed – on the state of IHS, which points to a whole bunch of reasons for IHS’ failures that stem largely around funding. IHS simply is not funded well enough to do its job. (According to this AP report, IHS is only half-funded.)

And there are reasons. Native Americans, historically with little political clout, see their programs get cut first. Many Western reservations are in rural areas and suffer the same problems that all rural areas do: few doctors and staff to work at clinics. Rural medicine is also less efficient because of the distance patients have to travel to be treated – or sent by ambulance to be treated by hospitals that IHS contracts out to.

The point here is that it’s not federal bureaucracy that’s the only, or even leading, problem. Imagine, if you will, how healthcare treatment would work if the IHS were privatized, and Native Americans responsible for their own insurance and health care – when the poverty rate is triple that of the rest of the United States, and treatment would have to be more expensive in order to fully staff clinics. Oh, and private insurers’ administrative costs triple that of government insurance programs, and with pay-for-service medicine at private hospitals driving up health care costs. Sure, the IHS is working poorly – but does anyone believe a private system would be better funded and produce better results for Native Americans?

Or, as Gwen Florio writes of Anderson’s piece, “These arguments make us a little queasy because they’ll inevitably be used as support to continued underfunding of IHS.”


by jhwygirl

….go out to Dustin Frost and his family.

By all accounts, he is an all around very nice guy.

We forget in this political world sometimes that these are regular people that do this political stuff. Whether you are left or right, Republican or Democratic or Independent or Green or or conservative or liberal – we all care for our country and our neighbors and we all want to do the right thing.

It’s at least one thing we have in common. I tend to believe there is more…in fact, I know there is.

Frost and his family could use all the positive energy that can be mustered. Please join in and send positive energy Dustin’s way.


by problembear

is the worst over in the bush-crash yet?

banks are still going under with lots more to come as the dominoes continue to fall several tiers beneath the too-big-to-fail giants propped up by gov’t bail-outs.

but, i have no doubt that even though the FDIC is at its lowest level of solvency since the great depression, it is on top of things???

(place cynical eye roll here)


meanwhile, am noticing a lot of commercial space vacancies sprouting up while making my daily rounds here in missoula.  most businesses and the jobs they provide disappear without a whimper until you see the for rent and for lease signs.  it looks like it is getting worse around here to me.

what do you think? is the worst over?

by problembear

this is reality for many of montana’s self-employed who cannot afford health insurance. are you listening senator baucus?

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