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How Big A Mess Is It?

Yesterday on All Things Considered they ran a piece, Cancer Society’s Ad Dollars Focus on Insurance , that highlights the problem for those without health insurance.

American Cancer Society CEO John Seffrin talked to Noah Adams about the decision to spend all of its advertising dollars to draw attention to the plight of Americans who lack health insurance. The Cancer Society realized that there was no point in trying to get people to have check-ups, when they can’t afford them, and all the expensive testing would tell people is how soon they were going to die, because if they can’t really afford the tests, they sure can’t afford the treatment.

As Jane Hamsher of Fire Dog Lake has written, having insurance is no guarantee of anything.

This is not a sane way of providing health care.

22 comments

1 whig { 09.16.07 at 11:10 pm }

Not one dollar for the ACS while they continue to suppress cannabis research. Do they want to cure cancer or not?

2 whig { 09.16.07 at 11:15 pm }
3 Bryan { 09.16.07 at 11:22 pm }

Whig, I know of your concern, but this is really about the things we know and can do now, that aren’t getting done because people don’t have access to health care.

The real problem is the anti-science attitude of the Federal government which isn’t just about funding, but the suppression of research in a lot of fields. The under regulate business and over regulate science, because business is political and science isn’t.

4 whig { 09.17.07 at 12:18 am }

Denying people health care is unconscionable, I don’t need the ACS to tell me that.

5 whig { 09.17.07 at 12:19 am }

I view this organization as one of the main prohibitionist mainstays, they are adverse to cannabis.

6 whig { 09.17.07 at 12:20 am }

Not. One. Dollar.

7 Michael { 09.17.07 at 8:38 am }

There was another story about the GM/UAW negotiations on NPR this morning as I was driving into work, in which it was stated that the automakers are insisting on some relief of their healthcare costs because otherwise they just can’t compete with foreign manufacturers. If ever there was an argument in favor of a single-payer system, I’d have to think this was it. Big Bidness is practically screaming for it, since that’s the system against which they have to compete in Japan and Europe. But apparently this is one time when the Republicans aren’t willing to bend over backwards to help bidness, since it smacks too much of “socialism.” As if.

8 Steve Bates { 09.17.07 at 11:04 am }

whig…

Your contributions are, of course, your own to direct to whatever organizations you wish. But your argument is a lot like that of people who claim they are otherwise supportive of greater access to women’s health care, but who refuse to contribute to Planned Parenthood because it is also an abortion provider.

“Denying people health care is unconscionable, I don’t need the ACS to tell me that.”

Maybe you don’t, but it’s not only about whether you need them to tell you that. There are other, less perceptive people toward whom such advertising is appropriately directed. If there were not people who needed to hear this message, the US would long ago have joined the community of civilized nations in providing universal health care.

FWIW, I fundamentally agree with you that governmental (and societal) prejudice against cannabis, in general and in cancer treatment research, is egregiously misdirected, and needs to be changed. My issue with you here is that I perceive your connection of cannabis issues to insurance issues as a sort of blackmail, much like that which the anti-choice community directs against women’s health care clinics. Of course you aren’t resorting to violence if you don’t get what you want… the only real victims of your approach are the cancer sufferers who cannot afford insurance, whose situation remains unchanged unless political pressure is applied. Whatever you may think of ACS, they are attempting to apply that pressure.

(Full disclosure: I have no connection to the ACS, do not contribute to them, and have occasionally had my own issues with them over cancer-related recommendations. But I have done contract computer work for Planned Parenthood and several different cancer research institutions, so I guess I do have a dog in this race.)

9 Bryan { 09.17.07 at 11:24 am }

The real issues are the availability of health care and prejudice against research which both cost lives. GM should have joined Ford in the push for universal coverage. The ACS is just another voice added to the mix.

We have been putting American manufacturing at a disadvantage for decades by making them responsible for health care, which is clearly a concern for society. Bismarck realized it was a national security issue at the end of the 19th century when he discovered that Germany couldn’t raise an army from the industrial workers because of their poor condition.

Every voice is important, whether I agree with them on any other issue.

I give to the Salvation Army for specific emergencies because they are very good at responding with kitchens. I won’t give them a penny for their regular work because of their discrimination.

10 andante { 09.17.07 at 12:51 pm }

This is one of my pet peeves. The AMA or whatever organization urges people to have x-number of preventative or diagnostic tests, but doesn’t have any solutions for paying for them.

I went to the hospital for a (minor) procedure several years ago and went through the initial visit with the financial office. The lady told me another lady had just left after being told her scheduled colonoscopy, recommended by her physician, would cost her $1400.

The Big Bidness guys can cry all they want about health care costs driving their profits down but they can’t bring themselves to say “single payer” or “universal”. Why? Because their solution is the “every man for himself plan”. In this, they are ably abetted by Republicans who scream “socialized medicine”.

But Bismarck was right – you can’t raise an army from an unhealthy population, and you can’t raise armies of employees for a healthy economy either.

11 Bryan { 09.17.07 at 1:18 pm }

I’m waiting for the great realization that insurance companies are the problem, not the solution. If tests could be routinely scheduled and performed, the cost of tests would drop. When the service provider has to fight to get paid, and knows it will have a problem going in, it jacks up the price.

The cost of most medical service has an invisible surcharge to cover people who can’t pay, and insurance companies that won’t pay. Single payer eliminates the need for the surcharge.

12 Jim Bales { 09.17.07 at 3:10 pm }

Perhpas you recall the story in 2005 about the decision to site a new Toyota plant in Ontario rather than Alabama?

One key reason was the fact that in Canada, Toyota does not have to offer health insurance.

I had thought that this would help shift the tide of opinion towards a single payer plan. Silly me!

13 Bryan { 09.17.07 at 3:25 pm }

All of the manufacturers are saying it, but Congress isn’t listening.

They need something to get behind, and Medicare for all is probably the easiest way to go.

14 andante { 09.17.07 at 5:01 pm }

…and now Hillary is out with her plan.

I’m VERY disappointed. She’s calling it *universal*, but the only thing *universal* I see about it is that it’s mandated for all.

15 Bryan { 09.17.07 at 5:06 pm }

That is garbage. The insurance companies are the problem. The insurance companies could have fixed this problem on their own if they had wanted, but they want profits. Tax credits are worthless to people who don’t make enough to pay taxes.

She has gone gun-shy and will never make the choices necessary.

16 whig { 09.17.07 at 10:27 pm }

Steve Bates,

Your contributions are, of course, your own to direct to whatever organizations you wish. But your argument is a lot like that of people who claim they are otherwise supportive of greater access to women’s health care, but who refuse to contribute to Planned Parenthood because it is also an abortion provider.

People who are anti-choice should probably not contribute to Planned Parenthood. Surely there are other organizations which support women’s health. That is not to say that one should or should not support Planned Parenthood specifically in any individual case, it is of course a matter of conscience.

My argument is nothing like that. My argument is that this is the American Cancer Society and it is denying people access to research that might cure them of cancer.

“Denying people health care is unconscionable, I don’t need the ACS to tell me that.”

Maybe you don’t, but it’s not only about whether you need them to tell you that. There are other, less perceptive people toward whom such advertising is appropriately directed. If there were not people who needed to hear this message, the US would long ago have joined the community of civilized nations in providing universal health care.

Sure, damn it. Support the organizations which are promoting that kind of advertising which aren’t at the same time complete hypocritical and betraying their own mission.

17 whig { 09.17.07 at 10:32 pm }

I believe the ACS should cease to exist if it denies the most promising cure to its constituents.

18 Steve Bates { 09.18.07 at 1:17 am }

“My argument is nothing like that.” – whig

whig, it is exactly like that. Everyone should direct their charitable contributions where they feel they will do the most good. But your arguments are precisely the same as those who deny money to an organization that is more than 99 percent a women’s health care provider and less than 1 percent an abortion provider, because of the abortion. Single-issue decision-making may be very personally satisfying, but it does not help you achieve goals in a world of multiple and interacting advocacies.

“Sure, damn it. Support the organizations which are promoting that kind of advertising which aren’t at the same time complete hypocritical and betraying their own mission.” – whig

I am glad to see you have made the scientific decision for the whole cancer research community based on a 2001 newspaper article. The damnable thing is… I am no fan of the ACS myself, and I agree with your conclusion: cannabis should, in fact, receive more attention in cancer research.

But it will not receive such attention, at least not from any major research organizations, as long as you and others “threaten” them not only with defunding but with nonexistence. It’s your choice, no doubt about that. But you will be ignored by the ACS, and probably by any other major cancer research organization, if you argue that the ACS should “cease to exist.” Defining away your opponent is not a good way to win an argument.

whig, you have to decide which you want more: the satisfaction of avoiding every association that may be “impure” but that has the potential ultimately to help you achieve your goal… or the greater satisfaction of persuading and eventually convincing those entities to support your goal. No doubt, the latter takes longer, and takes more effort.

I know you don’t want my advice, but here it is anyway: You may hate the ACS. But don’t eschew the ACS. Co-opt the ACS. It’s ultimately a more effective way to get what you want.

19 whig { 09.18.07 at 3:10 am }

Steve Bates,
I don’t hate the ACS. I deny they are furthering their mission by suppressing research on the cure for cancer. Perhaps I speak strongly, but I wish to make my own non-support as clear as I may. I do not take away your ability to support this organization, and if my approach seems “juvenile” to you, well as a blogger I’ve been accused of worse.

If you think that my approach makes them less willing to take cannabis seriously, then they really do deserve to go away. I’m not a member of the ACS and I’m not disrupting them in any way. They don’t have to pay any attention to me at all.

But they are not serving their clients. This is not about just a single study in 2001.

http://www.qmul.ac.uk/news/newsrelease.php?news_id=175

20 Steve Bates { 09.18.07 at 2:04 pm }

” I do not take away your ability to support this organization,” – whig

whig, if you can make that statement, you are not reading what I said. I do not support the ACS. I said that I didn’t. What part of that did you misread?

“… if my approach seems “juvenile” to you, well as a blogger I’ve been accused of worse.” – whig

Haven’t we all! But I did not accuse you of having a “juvenile” approach, only an ineffective one.

“If you think that my approach makes them less willing to take cannabis seriously, …” – whig

No, that’s not what I said, either. I said… and I’ll say it again in different words… that your approach will make ACS and other org’s ignore you utterly. They are big. You are one person. They have plenty of money to pursue their agenda. Your agenda is not included in their agenda right now, but there’s no fundamental incompatibility. Co-opting big org’s always, always works better than fighting them head-on.

If I thought this was really about a single newspaper article, or if I thought your mission was unimportant, I wouldn’t waste my time trying to make your efforts more effective. But I’ll defer to your determination of how best to pursue your goal, rather than risk evoking more misreadings or misconstructions of what I write on the subject. We must agree to agree on conclusions, but disagree on means. Matters could be worse.

21 whig { 09.18.07 at 5:24 pm }

You’re right, Steve. We have a diversity of approaches, and I’m not taking on ACS head on, just criticizing them from the sidelines. I was perfectly happy to take down the Republican party despite my family being Republicans. I am perfectly happy to take down the ACS if they don’t do what they should, or some other organization will take their place.

I’m certainly not against cancer research, I just want to help patients find what works and not only what is politically acceptable. We need more truth in medicine.

22 whig { 09.18.07 at 5:27 pm }

I should mention that I gave my family fair warning. 🙂