Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swine Flu and Socialized Medicine

Mexico, with nationalized health care, has received complaints about their handling of the swine flu epidemic from both patients and health care officials. The president of the Mexican epidemiological Association has criticized the endless regulations and layers of bureaucracy in the socialized system that has slowed down effective action during this emergency, just like during the massive 1985 earthquake.

Mexican officials urged patients to seek treatment quickly if they suffered symptoms of the flu, yet many were turned away from hospitals. Elias Camacho was forced to leave an ambulance he had called to take him to the hospital because the medics complained that he might be contagious. Family members then called a taxi to take him there, but once he arrived, the doctor told him that he wasn’t sick. The hospital only accepted him as a patient when another doctor notified state authorities.

Another patient, Jose Cepeda was turned away from two hospitals. One denied him access because the officials said he was not registered in the public health system; another refused to treat him because they were too busy. Others went to hospitals asking for vaccines, but were given masks instead.

The Mexican Health Care Department has been on the defensive since news of the outbreak of a deadly flu first broke. Despite an annual budget of over $5,000,000,000, it has not visited family members of the victims to find out how they got infected and thus, it has not treated the very people who are most apt to spread the disease. Now health departments in other countries are trying to quell the outbreak without vital information about how it started, how it acts, and how it’s being transmitted.

Obviously adding layers of bureaucracy between patients and physicians damages the whole healthcare system, no matter where it's tried. Why does Obama continue to push his socialized health care through Congress by not allowing debate on it? Does he really believe that it will work any better here than in the other countries that have implemented it?

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