Monday, October 5, 2009

Ignorance vs. cynicism in the campaign of lies

It is staggering to me how out of touch some influential people can be. Or is it just more smoke in mirrors? Take the Op-Ed piece in today's WSJ by 3 former presidents of the American Medical Association Donald Palmisano, William Plested and Daniel Johnson. The first sentence of the second paragraph proclaims:
The United States has the best health care in the world today, and thanks to the ever-expanding frontiers of science and medical innovation the brightest days are ahead.
Really? Have they not heard of the nearly 100,000 potentially preventable deaths in the US hospitals exposed by the obscure body known as the Institute of Medicine in their report "To Err is Human"? What about the nearly 100,000 fatalities due to healthcare-associated infections? And since they threw down the gauntlet of comparison, what about our crappy standing among the developed nations with respect to infant mortality and life expectancy? What do these facts say about our healthcare?

They go on to concede that
It is true that there are Americans who fall through the cracks of our medical system every day
Must be some cracks, if they can accommodate nearly 50 million citizens! No, these are not cracks, they are crevasses, they are canyons, they are craters! And as for innovation, have they checked lately where that stands? And where innovation originates? Probably not. Had they done their homework, they would have realized that much innovation comes from within the walls of institutions of higher learning and is funded with -- yes, you guessed it -- our tax dollars.

Coincidentally, another story, this one in today's WaPo, brings to light a less rosy picture of our healthcare system, and particularly how it is viewed by the people. In seeking the reasons for why so many Americans are skeptical of the H1N1 vaccine, Rob Stein states
...the vaccine campaign is being buffeted by political and social currents: wariness of mainstream medicine combined with suspicion of big government and a general unease and complacency about vaccines. [emphasis mine]
So, if we really did have the "best health care in the world", why would there be such wariness?

The good doctors should stop the self-pity fest for not being invited by President Obama to the Rose Garden event today, where supporters of healthcare reform will help the President push for meaningful change. Seems to me this is not about being left out for disagreeing with the President. This is about the obliviousness to the reality among people who should be most in touch with it. Or is this just another installment in the campaign of lies by the opposition, this time wearing a mask of respectability through the sources? Could they really be that cynical?    

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