Stumbled on this little bit in Indian Country Today about Glenn Beck comparing Indian Health Service to the proposed health care reform. It is a little bit "one plus one equals a barrel of monkeys", but there is some genuine points made if you can weave your way through the commentary. Anyways, the video:
The thing is, it's not like there isn't a basis for argument here. Indian Health Services is not a good model of a government run agency, even a little bit. It sucks.
What they DON'T say is what pisses me off. Because Glenn Beck just discovered their was a problem with IHS, and would like to use the HUGE underfunding of that program to prove public options can't work.
But who are the people that are throwing road blocks in the way of funding the IHS in the first place? How is it that, despite "everyone" knowing how terribly underfunded the system is, politicians haven't been able to get any money to it? Was Glenn Beck speaking out against Bush when he was threatening to veto the (as yet made law) Indian Health Care Improvement Act last year?
You can't be a part of the problem, and then use the problem as an example of what the other guy is doing wrong. Well, apparently Beck can, I suppose.
From a RezNet article:
About one-third more is spent per capita on health care for felons in federal prison, according to 2005 data from the health service.
In Washington, a few lawmakers have tried to bring attention to the broken system as Congress attempts to improve health care for millions of other Americans. But tightening budgets and the relatively small size of the American Indian population have worked against them.
"It is heartbreaking to imagine that our leaders in Washington do not care, so I must believe that they do not know," Joe Garcia, president of the National Congress of American Indians, said in his annual state of Indian nations' address in February.
The White House sent out its own video response to some of these allegations, and makes good points as well:
Of course, there is some of the "glossing" as well. I think they are right to say that the two are very different things... VERY. Yet, right away she admonishes those critics who say that Indian health care is not "stable" as just passing on scare tactics. Uh... right. That it is not stable is a FACT. Anyone who went to the old, entirely IHS run, Native hospital downtown can attest to that. Waiting all day to be seen in emergency was not an exception, but a rule.
Alaska is not a great example for her to use as something in which IHS "works," and it is a pretty fine line she tries to weave. It can only work better than down south because the VERY different system we have (not reservation systems, for instance) allows the IHS to be supplemented by Native corps, grants, insurance, etc. MORE than supplementing - the majority of the money in the Alaska Native health system is NOT provided by IHS. And oh- by the way - it is NOT administered by IHS anymore. It's Native run. Soo...NOT so much an example of an IHS system that works.
Obama made a huge increase to the IHS budget this year, and has already made roads to try and make it a better, or at least better funded, system. What ticks me off is that opponents of the one are trying to use a problem they've ignored or spoken out against for years, and hold it up as the other guys problem.
I would love to hear actual debate going on about health care reform, but all I keep hearing is these outrageous, hypocrtical, off-point claims and examples that play on emotion rather than fact. Can't we all agree, at least, that health care is not working in this country? And can't we all agree that changes are definitely needed? And I KNOW we can all agree that the health insurance system needs an overhaul, or I'd like to meet the person who believes THAT system is sound!
Maybe there is a plus side to all this - now that so many media faces and lawmakers have "discovered" there is a problem with IHS funding, and are telling the world about it, all IHS's funding problems will be solved!