Friday, May 9, 2008

Neglecting Americans’ health needs is a national disgrace

The greatest asset of any nation is its people and their ability to function productively in society.

Increasingly, however, more Americans are flatly unable financially to provide for their health care because they lack any insurance coverage or they lack the resources for prohibitively priced medications and care not fully covered by insurance.

Costs are the inevitable villain.

This is a distressing anomaly in a culture that prides itself in meeting needs of families. It's a disgrace.

Americans were in an uproar over U.S. troops' being sent into harm's way in Iraq with insufficient armor for themselves and for their vehicles. Washington politicians and military leaders were also pilloried for the dismal shortfall of treatment for returning wounded GIs at Walter Reed Army Hospital.

If American soldiers supporting national policy deserve the best care, what of millions of Americans who keep the nation's economic infrastructure perking but are in jeopardy of dropping out because of failing health that goes untreated?

Where is the uproar?

The moral and diplomatic merits of the Iraq war may be debated, but one thing is beyond dispute: The war is a financial debacle that has led the United States into a black hole of unparalleled debt and borrowing and making indefensible cutbacks in vital domestic programs affecting the health and well-being of American families.

A study by the Harvard School of Public Health finds life expectancy has declined or stagnated over 20 years for one of every five women in certain parts of the nation due partly to lack of proper health and preventive care.

Alarmingly, the Bush administration is cutting $17.8 billion over five years from aid to hospitals. Critics assert this hampers the ability to handle a surge of emergency care in the event of a terrorist attack. A congressional study found that half of 34 hospitals in five cities considered vulnerable to terrorist attack, and the two cities hosting this summer's political conventions, are short of emergency room capacity for a major disaster.

Despite spurious charges that withdrawing troops from Iraq would constitute "retreat," worse consequences are accruing at home because of obstinate Bush-Cheney policies that pour billions of dollars each month into the Baghdad quagmire.

Public facilities are in disrepair, health care of Americans is suffering, education is neglected, military personnel deployed time and again into Iraq are tired and in questionable health, aid to states for law enforcement has been cut and more—all the direct result of spending on Iraq.

The need for dollars is far more desperate at home than in Iraq.

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