And it came to pass in our country that late in his time of office Teddy the Bullmoose called forth from his Bully Pulpit, telling his people that “many diseases, notably tuberculosis, are National scourges. The work of the State and city boards of health should be supplemented by a constantly increasing interest on the part of the National Government.”
But Teddy the Bullmoose’s time in office ended, and little was done after that to make Americans healthy.
And it was not until Harry the Stalwart sat in the White House, having had the job forced on him by the death of Franklin the Caring, that serious efforts were again made to ensure that Americans had healthcare.
For Harry the Stalwart was a man of principle and a man of the people. And he looked about the country and found hunger, sickness, and injustice.
And so he signed Executive Order #9981 declaring that African Americans in the United States Armed Services were to be treated and promoted the same as White Americans.
And it was done. And since that time many dozens of African Americans have risen to become Admirals and Generals, and to lead the Armed Services.
And he looked around and found that many American school children were faring less well in their studies because they were hungry. And he created the National School Lunch Program. And it was done, and children were fed, and are still being fed.
And he looked around and found that many Americans were sick and going without medical care because they had no access to doctors or hospitals. “About 1,200 counties,” he told the American people,”40 percent of the total in the country, with some 15,000,000 people, have either no local hospital, or none that meets even the minimum standards of national professional associations.”
And he set about to make it better, as he had with other things. But it was here that Harry the Stalwart met the full might of the American Medical Association, which raised and spent mountains of gold to hire public relations people and many legislators in order to scare the American people away from any changes which might make the AMA and some of its members less wealthy.
Using terms like “socialized medicine” and speaking great untruths about his ideas, the AMA convinced many people that great evils would befall us if we put his ideas into practice. And the program was killed.
And after Harry the Stalwart left the White House, his successors did little to enable Americans to get and remain healthy except to voice platitudes.
Dwight the Ambiguous strengthened the US Food and Drug Administration and increased funds for medical research, but otherwise did little.
His successor, Jack the Adventurous, asked for a health program through the Social Security System, decrying the idea of “working men and women being forced to beg for help from public charity.”
But his time in office was brief and it fell to his successor, Lyndon the Practical, to create the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
Lyndon’s successor, Richard the Questionable, proposed major reforms, many of which have been embedded in the Affordable Care Act. He reminded the American people that, “America has long been the wealthiest nation in the world. Now it is time we became the healthiest nation in the world.”
But still nothing was done.
Richard’s successor, Gerald the Unsure, made several proposals, but fought for none of them.
Gerald was succeeded by Jimmy the Thinker, who put forth many specific proposals. But these were smitten down by his enemies when he tried to limit medical costs.
His successor, Ronald the Glib, spoke many words about healthcare in America, but these dealt mostly with reducing budgets and handing services over to private companies.
Ronald was followed by George the Tepid, who spoke words about making healthcare more available and more affordable, but then argued against his own ideas.
It was not until Bill the Lionheart entered the White House that noticeable progress was made. Despite 100 million dollars spent on ferocious and unrelenting opposition by the AMA and the pharmaceutical companies, Bill the Lionheart managed to extend health coverage to 5 million children.
Bill the Lionheart’s successor, George the Dim, son of George the Tepid, spoke many words about making healthcare more accessible and more affordable, but these remained words only, and no changes came to pass.
And as you have noticed, the common thread that runs through every Presidential healthcare proposal since the 1930s has been the unrelenting, massively well-financed, and frequently deceptive opposition of the American Medical Association.
If you’re like most Americans, you think of the AMA as the group responsible for setting and enforcing professional standards among its members, like the American Bar Association does.
You might also think that the AMA represents all or most of the physicians in the United States.
Both ideas are wrong.
What the AMA is, is primarily a lobbying group; and represents only about 17% of the 900,000 or so doctors in our country.
And despite its lofty reputation, the AMA fought every major effort at health care reform over the past 80 years. They threatened to scuttle Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs like Social Security if he pushed too strongly for universal healthcare.
They spent over $1.5 million (about $15 million today) to defeat President Truman’s healthcare program.
In 1961 they spent large, secret sums of money on “Operation Coffee Cup.” This project, never made public, enlisted doctors’ wives to host coffee gatherings for their neighbors so they could write “spontaneous” scripted letters to Congress members about the evils of “socialized medicine.” The words in quotes are AMA’s words, from the kit that came with the recording.
Dr. Loyal Davis, president of the AMA at the time, hired his son-in-law Ronald Reagan to be the voice on the recording the ladies listened to.
And so it was not until George the Dim was succeeded by Barack the Conqueror that widespread medical care became available to all the people. And for reasons not entirely clear, the AMA did not even lay moderate siege to Barack’s Affordable Care Act, so Americans finally were able to find medical care that would keep them well and healthy without driving them into bankruptcy.
Perhaps the AMA’s decision was influenced by their declining membership; perhaps by the growing shortage of physicians; perhaps by Congress agreeing to scrap the arcane Medicare reimbursement calculations.
Whatever the reasons, the Affordable Care Act seems to mark the end of the AMA’s hundred-year long expenditure of time, effort, and money to keep Americans sick, or broke, or both.
And whether the AMA chooses to stay a little cautious on its self-appointed role as Guardian Of The Bottom Line for its members and associated pharmaceutical makers and vendors remains a valid question.
But their days of subverting the tenets of the healing arts just so a few people and companies can make huge amounts of money, instead of just reasonable amounts of money, seem to be over.
And these past deeds go beyond simple dismay.
For what the AMA and its minions have done repeatedly over the decades is to force children to get sick, and in some cases to die because their families could not pay for necessary medical treatment; to force families out of their homes who could not pay astronomical medical bills; to force huge financial burdens on the public to pay for emergency room treatment for people who cannot afford these astronomical medical costs on their own; all this goes beyond being immoral or disgusting.
It borders on criminal.
Thursday, 24 October 2013
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