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December 31, 2008

Four Health Care Media Myths That Didn’t Go Away in 2008

Niko Karvounis

No matter how you slice it, health care is complicated—which means that the media has a vital role to play in helping the public navigate the ins and outs of the issue. Unfortunately, more often than not, reporters, commentators, and pundits don’t serve as trustworthy guides when it comes to health care. In fact, 2008 saw the media once again regurgitating myths that obscure the facts surrounding health care in the United States. Here are some of the most egregious offenders.  

Access Is Not a Problem

In August, John Goodman, president of the right-wing National Center for Policy Analysis, wrote a ridiculous blog post arguing that nobody lacks health insurance in the United States because “only people who are denied care are truly uninsured.” Thus, because hospitals are required by law to provide emergency services, every American essentially has health insurance. “Voila!” says Goodman: access to health care is not a problem.

Goodman’s ramblings would have been easy to overlook as right-wing nonsense if the Dallas Morning News hadn’t reported his comments twice and declared them “simple and logical.” Equally unfortunate was the fact that CNN.com uncritically parroted his absurd claim. From these high-profile news outlets, Goodman’s ludicrous argument trickled down to the punditocracy: in September, conservative commentator Glenn Beck smugly declared that, because it’s “against federal law to deny health care to someone who needs it,” we shouldn’t worry about issues of access.  

The Census Bureau probably would disagree. After all, its most recent report on health insurance in the United States puts the number of Americans without coverage at almost 46 million. Further, years of research have shown that even people with health coverage don’t necessarily have access to primary care doctors and only receive 55 percent of the recommended care for their medical conditions. It’s not nearly as easy to get the right care at the right time as people like Goodman and Beck would have you believe.
 

The Socialized Medicine Bogeyman

In a year of progressive renewal, you knew this one was going to make an appearance. In October, the Wall Street Journal editorial page warned that “a liberal supermajority” and “[an] unchecked left-wing ascendency” would institute an “inevitable” single-payer health care system in the United States. According to the Wall Street Journal, socialists-in-waiting will introduce their system gradually, “so as not to cause immediate alarm,” through the Trojan Horse of Barack Obama’s health care plan.
 

In reality, Obama’s plan isn’t single-player—in fact, he wants to introduce a new public health insurance plan to compete with private insurers, thus giving consumers greater choice and shaking up the stagnant, inefficient insurance market. If this sounds like a good compromise between progressive and conservative priorities, that’s because it is: progressives get more accessible coverage and conservatives get more competition.
 

So why are those on the right-wing so upset? They’re afraid that private insurers can’t handle competition and that people will flock to the public plan, thus instituting a de facto single-payer system. That’s why in August, the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire misleadingly declared that Obama “would consider embracing a single-payer health-care system . . . over time,” even though he explicitly said that single-payer didn’t make sense for America. It’s also why Sean Hannity bone-headedly decried Obama’s “nationaliz[ation of] our health care” on Fox News in October. I guess conservatives only like competition if corporations are guaranteed to come out on top.

Blame the Immigrants

Another ubiquitous myth that reared its ugly head this year was the idea that illegal immigrants are responsible for America’s skyrocketing health care costs because they lack insurance, can’t pay for medicine, and crowd our emergency rooms.

As it turns out, immigrants use less health care than citizens, but that’s not something you’d conclude from media coverage. In July, for example, CNN’s Kitty Pilgrim baselessly asserted that “illegal aliens likely make up 40 percent of the uninsured in this country” while filling in for Lou Dobbs on his show. This is a crazy claim: as Media Matters has noted, for Pilgrim’s numbers to be true, “18.8 million undocumented immigrants would have to be uninsured, but the National Institute for Health Care Management has estimated that there are 5.6 million uninsured undocumented immigrants.” Nice one, Kitty.
 
Reuters ran a less blatant, but equally misleading, headline this month: “Undocumented immigrants cost Texas $678 million in 2007.” Supposedly, this hefty sum is the amount that hospitals in Texas spent on health care for undocumented workers. Except there’s a catch: “[t]he report did not include estimates of how much these residents pay in state and local taxes.” In other words, the state may well have gotten back much of the $678 million it spent on health care through taxes.

Lo and behold, the Houston Chronicle—who, like Reuters, ran a misleading headline trumpeting the $678 million—dug a little deeper and found that “illegal immigrants in 2005 paid $1.58 billion in taxes while . . . local governments spent $1.3 billion on indigent health care.” If these numbers, or similar ones, hold for 2007—and there’s no reason to think they don’t—undocumented Texas immigrants actually covered their own health care bill and then some. In other words, there is no story here.
 
Pity the Employers
 
This last myth isn’t exactly pernicious, it’s just inaccurate. One of the most oft-heard justifications for health care reform is that it will take the burden off employers whose bottom line and competitive edge suffer from our cumbersome, employer-based health care system. During the Democratic primaries, for example, Barack Obama said that it’s a tragedy “when businesses have to lay off one employee because they can’t afford the health care for another” and Hillary Clinton noted that “large American companies [can’t] compete . . . against companies in countries that impose far lower health care burdens on employers.”

To be sure, the employers-as-victims meme is a beneficial one: the more businesses feel that health care reform is in their best interest, the smoother it will go. So it’s not necessarily bad that news outlets across the country and the Web consistently called attention to employer health care costs in 2008.  

But it’s important that we move forward with the right priorities—and in the end, the burden of businesses shouldn’t be our top concern. In March, two scholars from the National Institutes of Health and Stanford University published an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association arguing that workers—and not employers—ultimately foot America’s health care bill. Indeed, the authors cite data showing that employer health care costs and workers’ wages have respectively increased and decreased at roughly the same pace over the past few decades. Translation: what employers pay for health insurance they take out from workers’ wages.

Yes, our employer-based health care system is a mess and is less than ideal for businesses; but employers have the wiggle room to pay workers less as they shell out more for benefits. As health care costs increase, however, workers have no such recourse: they get less pay, which they have to spend on more expensive health care. They’re the real victims. By all means, mobilize the troops for health care reform—but let’s also keep in mind that our principle motivation for change is the average, hardworking American.


 

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Comments

HernandezUSA

We need the SAVE ACT and E-verify used for every business and to be sure illegals stay out of the market and American can get any Job they want or need.

E-verify does not discriminate against RACE, Religion, SEX or physically capability only your Citizenship and your LEGAL right to be and work in United States.


If we can stop Predatory business owners from hiring then the Illegal Aliens will not Stay and return to their native Countries.

This ISSUE is not about RACE, but ALL Governments Federal/State/LOCAL not doing their jobs, because big and small business owners want cheap workers and no labor laws to bother with.

Its called GREED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Both Liberals and Conservatives need to take some pride in our Country and protect it from all invading nations citizens and corporate greed. Please, NO IMMIGRANT BASHING or HATE Crimes.


HATE only feeds the single RACE agenda groups for Open Borders and the Liberal Media

zeezil

8 ways illegal immigrants are making you sick

By Dr. William Campbell Douglass
02/14/2008
http://www.douglassreport.com/immigrationwnd.html

I'll be the first one to step up and get a tear in my eye about huddled masses yearning to breathe free and live "the American Dream" in this "Land of Opportunity." But the cold fact is that today, too many people go around the system and sneak into America from countries with markedly lower and even non-existent health standards. But these people are bringing more than just cheap labor with them… In some of these countries - Mexico included - diseases that you only read about in Victorian novels (cholera, TB, typhoid, and even plague) are daily occurrences. It's no coincidence that all of these diseases are now on the rise right here in the U.S.

That's right: Diseases we did away with long ago are "mysteriously" beginning to reemerge. These are the same diseases that terrorized Americans for hundreds of years. Maybe it's been too long for everyone to remember what it was like when people lived in constant fear of diseases like these. Surely if they remembered, alarm bells would be sounding loud and clear-and people wouldn't worry so much about the need for cheap labor, and the fear of being perceived as racist. What a load of bull.

You can call me a racist all you want, but if turning a blind eye to (or heaven forbid, welcoming with open arms) these illegals means opening up my children's children to these awful diseases, you can forget it. I won't stand for what these moochers are doing to our land, our schoolrooms or our hospitals-and neither should you.

And keep in mind that coming into our country LEGALLY means you've been screened for these diseases. It's those that ignore the system and make their own rules that are putting us at risk.

Allow me to put some names to these faces of disease. I just hope that you never have to meet them.

1. Tuberculosis

As illegal immigration continues to run amok thanks to business and the government turning a blind eye, tuberculosis is making a comeback in the States. Reports say that over three-quarters of the TB cases reported in California were found in foreign natives.

Public health officials are not concerned enough by this. As for me? I'm terrified. Because the most frightening part of this is that there are emerging strains of drug-resistant TB being brought into the country by illegal immigrants who, of course, bypass the health screenings regularly conducted with legal immigrants.

2. Chagas disease

You've probably never heard of this "kissing bug disease," but Latin Americans know it all too well. And why shouldn't they? It affects more than 18 MILLION people there every year-and 50,000 of those die. In fact, it's the leading cause of heart failure in Latin America.

The bugs that spread it (triatomine bugs) are endearingly called "kissing bugs" because they prefer to feed on your lips and face. There's nothing sweet about their kisses, though. They nibble on your face while you're sleeping… then they defecate on you. If the fece* enter your body through mucous membranes or breaks in your skin, you'll contract the disease.

Some people present no symptoms, and others will only end up with common cold symptoms. But the disease can also cause local swelling, enlargement of your liver or spleen, and swollen glands. It can get progressively worse from there-leading to an enlarged esophagus, enlarged heart, heart failure, altered heart rate, and sometimes cardiac arrest. Up to 30 percent will eventually die… when their heart or intestines actually explodes.

This disease isn't contagious, and chances are you won't run into these little buggers-but that doesn't mean you're free and clear. Blood tainted with Chagas disease has turned up in our blood supplies, and some transplanted organs are infected with the disease as well. Right now, there are three proven cases of people receiving Chagas-infected organs. Two of them died.

3. Leprosy

Leprosy seems to be on the decline all around the world-everywhere, that is, except for the U.S. That's right, from 2005 to 2006, when the world was experiencing at 13.4 percent DECREASE in leprosy cases, cases in the U.S. shot up higher than ever.

Forty or so years ago, less than 900 people in the U.S. were afflicted with leprosy. But in just the last three years, that number has ballooned by 800 PERCENT-with over 7,000 new cases reported. What's going on here?

Right now, you're probably thinking: Leprosy, that Biblical disease? But disease of Biblical proportions is more like it. It's a horrific disease, the likes of which you can't fully understand unless you see it. (If you're not the squeamish type, try Googling the term "leprosy" and see what comes up.)

Just like the others, this is an imported disease. Dr. Terry Williams, who runs a clinic for lepers, says that most of the cases he sees are imported from all over the world…like Africa, the Philippines, China, and South America.

4. Dengue fever

This is another illness that most people in America have never heard of. But not too long ago, a Texas town that borders Mexico experienced an outbreak. Can you imagine why that could be? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that this mosquito-borne illness is on the rise in Mexico and throughout Latin America.

The classic form of the disease consists of fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, and rashes-and sometimes nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. But the hemorrhagic form isn't quite so vanilla. As the name implies, it causes both internal and external bleeding…including bloody diarrhea, vomiting blood, and bleeding from mucosa.

The only thing doctors recommend is "supportive therapy," such as staying hydrated and possibly a blood transfusion (just make sure it's not tainted with Chagas disease). In other words, there's no cure.

5. Whooping cough

Another "ancient disease" on the rise. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics is saying that it's worse now than it's been in the last 40 years.

This isn't just your run-of-the-mill cough, either. It's caused by an airborne bacteria called Bordetella pertussis. It attacks your breathing passages and narrows your airways, which leads to intense coughing and difficulty breathing. It's especially dangerous for kids, and it can be deadly for infants.

6. Cysticercosis

This is a parasitic disease caused by the pork tapeworm, and it's caused by poor food-handling practices. If you're infected, something as simple as not washing your hands after you use the restroom can cause you to contaminate food…and thereby spread it to other victims. The eggs will hatch in your intestine, and then take up residence at any given place in your body.

One man who had a chronic headache ended up having a cyst of tapeworm larvae in his brain. It could have killed him. This isn't a rare situation, either. Hundreds of others have developed neurological diseases because of this tapeworm. (Gives you something to think about when you step into a fast-food restaurant…)

Between 1990 and 2002, 221 people in the U.S. died from cysticercosis. Almost 85 percent of them were born in another country-and 62 percent of that number came from…you guessed it… Mexico. Of the 33 American who died, 60 percent were living in California.

But since cysticercosis isn't on the radar screen of most doctors and clinics, I'm betting that most cases go undiagnosed-which means that the severity of the problem is likely far greater than the numbers indicate. The easiest way to avoid this one…cook your own meals.

7. Morgellons

If it feels like you have bugs crawling under your skin, it might not be your imagination-especially if you live in Texas, Florida, and California, where a mysterious disease called Morgellons is crawling up from its neighbors to the south.

No one knows what causes it, how it's spread, or how to make it go away. The medical establishment has been quick to shrug it off. Victims wish they could do the same.

Victims complain of hair loss, skin thickening, fatigue and joint pain. But the worst part of all has to be unexplained black fibers that come out of their skin. One sufferer said, "It gives you the sensation that you have worms under your skin or rats crawling on you." Another said, "When you lay down, as soon as your head hits the pillow, your hair starts crawling."

8. Polio

We did away with polio back in the 1940s when the advent of the polio vaccine. Since then, you probably haven't worried too much about this viral infectious disease. But polio is nothing to mess with. It has a wide range of severity. It can be as minor as gastrointestinal problems and flu-like symptoms, or it can damage the central nervous system, leading to partial paralysis (as was the case with FDR).

Now, once again, it's on the rise in the U.S., thanks to the infected illegals who bring it across the border with them. Luckily, this is one we do know how to fight, but when was the last time you heard of anyone having to line up for a polio vaccine?

5 way to protect yourself from illegal immigrants and their diseases

OK. Right now you're probably thinking: To hell with being politically correct! How can I avoid these diseases?

I wish I could give you an easy solution, but the problem is just too big for a quick fix. It would be nice if we could ship all the illegals back to where they came from, but let's be honest: We know that's not going to happen. In the meantime, here are a few steps you can take to stay healthy and disease-free.

Your best defense is a healthy immune system. A few of my favorite immune-boosters include lactoferrin, elderberry, chamomile tea-and the cheapest one: sleep.

Wash your hands often. It might be the oldest advice in the book, but it works. And if you're traveling in close quarters-like on a bus or plane-wear a mask.

See if the restaurants you frequent check for these diseases. Do they have Hispanic immigrants handling food? Find out and act accordingly.

If you hire Hispanics, you'll want to see more than a green card. Get a recent medical certificate showing they are not infected with this or any other parasitic disease, such as Giardia lamblia or amebiasis. They should also be checked for TB. Check the fingernails of kitchen workers daily. If they resent it-fire them.

3 foolproof steps we'll never take to curb illegal immigration

Of course, I could go on and on, telling you about the rise of malaria, hepatitis A, B, and C, the increase in all sorts of parasitic infections, and even HIV. But I think you've got the picture. That's a lot of sick people and a lot of serious diseases that we're not quite prepared to fight.

I'm not a fan of political correctness, so I'm not afraid to tell you that I think it's high time someone in our government did something to stop illegal immigration before it brings this country to its knees-and puts us all in the hospital. It isn't all about Mexico, but that's where a lot of it stops-and could end.

I've got a few of my own ideas of how to stop the impending economic disaster illegals represent:

A BORDER FENCE - Politicians say it'll cost too much, but even at its most expensive (an estimated $8 billion, tops), it would be cheaper than the negative lifetime economic impact of just 1.5% of the illegals already in this country.
RESCIND BENEFITS - Simply by virtue of their presence in this country, illegal immigrants are entitled to emergency health care, police and fire protection, and every right to privacy, liberty, and due process of law that all American citizens are entitled to. Many states grant them driver's licenses, and many hold mortgages and credit cards. Beyond this, their children, even if born one minute after illegally crossing the border, enjoy full U.S. citizenship, along with all the perks.
EMPLOYMENT PROHIBITIONS - Making it a felony for anyone in America to hire an illegal immigrant could go a long way toward discouraging those bent on hopping the border to make a living. If the money river dries up, the "fish" will swim back from whence they came.

Doing just these three things would neutralize the illegal immigrant threat almost overnight. If we did these things, we wouldn't even NEED to make illegal entry or occupancy a crime (another measure being discussed by Republicrats). Nor would we have to go through the costly process of mass deportations.

If illegals found they couldn't work, get benefits, or guarantee their unborn automatic citizenship, they'd go home and make Mexico all it could be (which was the goal of the all-but defunct NAFTA).

Repeated surveys have shown that the vast majority (as much as 87%) of Americans favor the construction of a fence or wall along the entirety of the U.S./Mexico border. But all this evidently means nothing to our elected officials, including our President.

For them, the soul (and health) of America is secondary to votes, cheap labor, tax revenue, and the opportunity to expand government (and their own power) through entitlements like welfare, healthcare, and education assistance.

And so, instead of a return to the fairness and uniquely American concept of large-scale LEGAL immigration and assimilation-one of the pillars of greatness this nation is built upon-we'll end up with a morass of half-measures, none of them effective, and all of them inflating government power while at the same time watering down our once-great entrepreneurial culture into a massive welfare state as stratified by social classes (the "haves" and "have-nots") as any communist country ever was.

Anonymous

what about immunizations?

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