Rush Limbaugh’s Health Care Experience and The American Health Care System

Many bloggers are mocking Rush Limbaugh’s claim that there is nothing wrong with the health care system based upon his limited experience from his recent hospitalization. I am glad for him that his cardiac status is sound. Unfortunately the same cannot be said about his cognitive abilities here.

The New York Daily News quoted Limbaugh:

Conservative radio loudmouth Rush Limbaugh learned this week there’s nothing wrong with his heart – and there’s nothing wrong with the nation’s health care system.

At a New Year’s Day news conference in Honolulu, Limbaugh said Friday that tests revealed nothing medically wrong with his heart.

Severe chest pains landed him in a Hawaii hospital Wednesday.

“The pain was real, and they don’t know what caused it,” Limbaugh said.

Doctors said he did not have a heart attack and he doesn’t suffer from heart disease.

Turning from his health to politics, Limbaugh declared Friday he got the best health treatment in the world “right here in the United States of America.”

“I don’t think there’s one thing wrong with the United States health system,” Limbaugh said.

Steve Benen responded:

…Limbaugh is deliberately obscuring what the debate over health care policy is all about. He received fine care “right here in the United States of America.” Well, of course he did. No one is saying that there’s something wrong with our medical professionals, our technology, our facilities, and/or our ability to treat the ill.

The point is who has access to this quality care, who can afford it, who’ll die because they lack the necessary coverage, who’ll get kicked out of the system under rescission, who’ll never get into the system because of a pre-existing condition, and whether families, businesses, and government agencies will go bankrupt trying to finance such a system.

Limbaugh felt chest pains, was admitted, underwent a series of tests, and received fine care. I’m glad. But to think that every American, regardless of circumstance, would receive identical treatment is to bury one’s head in the sand and pretend reality doesn’t exist.

Another difference is that someone affluent like Limbaugh could have received care in the past which to reduce his risk of heart disease, including treatment for problems such as diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia if present. An uninsured person might not have received medical care until they first showed up in ER.

An uninsured person might also have received the same care to rule out a heart attack, but there’s a big difference if Limbaugh or an uninsured person continued to have pain which was not found to be cardiac. As Limbaugh said, the pain is real but the cause remains unknown. Limbaugh could continue to receive testing to try to determine the cause after discharge, while the uninsured person could not.

So yes, in a very limited way, Limbaugh did receive the same care as others at the time of his hospitalization–but this misses the big picture and does not mean there are no problems with our system.

Alan Colmes also points out that, “Hawaii has been a leader in health care reform, having instituted the kind of reforms Limbaugh has railed against.  Ninety percent of the population has relatively generous benefits, and reform in that state has led the way to innovation.”

While not practicing in Hawaii, I often see individuals who are much poorer than Rush Limbaugh but receive comparable care, including more aggressive treatment if cardiac problems are found. A tremendous number of these people receive such coverage because of being over 65 and qualifying for Medicare–a government program. They would not have received the same type of care long term if younger unless they happened to receive coverage from an employer.

Republicans Rewrite History While Blaming Obama For Attempted Terrorist Attack

As the Republicans try to twist the facts to blame Obama for the attempted bombing on Christmas, Mike Allen notes how the Republicans also tried to blame a Democrat for the major terror attack which occurred on the first year of their watch:

The GOP is blaming Obama for the attack. But Republican lawmakers, candidates, pundits and commentators — and the Bush administration — blamed the CLINTON administration for 9/11. In September 2006, Secretary of State Rice told the New York Post editorial board, “Nobody organized this country or the international community to fight the terrorist threat that was upon us until 9/11. … We just weren’t organized as a country either domestically or as a leader internationally. But what we did in the eight months was at least as aggressive as what the Clinton Administration did in the preceding years…We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al Qaeda.” … Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), a few hours after the attacks: “We had Bill Clinton backing off, letting the Taliban go, over and over again.” … Then-Rep. Porter Goss (R-Fla.), later CIA director, in The New York Times, 10/22/01: “[T]he fact is that the Clinton administration was not very interested in our intelligence community, did not spend very much time worrying about, or using it, or investing in it. … It’s impossible not to go there if you really do an anatomy of why we are where we are today.”

The difference is that, as his column also notes, Obama has been paying greater attention to threats from Yemen and other areas. Rice was lying, as I’ve written before, when she denied the fact that the Clinton administration had passed on plans for dealing with al Qaeda which the Bush administration ignored. Documents obtained from the National Security Archive showed that such statements from Rice were untrue. The documents include a January 25, 2001, memo from counterterrorism coordinator Richard Clarke to national security advisor Condoleezza Rice and “Tab A December 2000 Paper: Strategy for Eliminating the Threat from the Jihadist Networks of al-Qida: Status and Prospects,”

The claims about Clinton are also false. It was the Clinton administration which paid attention to the intelligence on the planned Millennium terrorist attack and prevented it, while the Bush administration ignored warnings before 9/11. The Republican Congress also blocked attempts by Bill Clinton to fight al Qaeda. Bill Clinton discussed his record on terrorism in an interview on Fox News Sunday on September 22, 2006. Full transcript is here.

Atheists in Ireland Protest New Blasphemy Law

A new blasphemy law in Ireland show what it is so important to prevent further deterioration of the wall of separation of church and state in this country. The Guardian reports on actions by atheists to protest these laws:

Secular campaigners in the Irish Republic defied a strict new blasphemy law which came into force today by publishing a series of anti-religious quotations online and promising to fight the legislation in court.

The new law, which was passed in July, means that blasphemy in Ireland is now a crime punishable with a fine of up to €25,000 (£22,000).

It defines blasphemy as “publishing or uttering matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters sacred by any religion, thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion, with some defences permitted”.

The justice minister, Dermot Ahern, said that the law was necessary because while immigration had brought a growing diversity of religious faiths, the 1936 constitution extended the protection of belief only to Christians.

But Atheist Ireland, a group that claims to represent the rights of atheists, responded to the new law by publishing 25 anti-religious quotations on its website, from figures including Richard Dawkins, Björk, Frank Zappa and the former Observer editor and Irish ex-minister Conor Cruise O’Brien.

Michael Nugent, the group’s chair, said that it would challenge the law through the courts if it were charged with blasphemy.

Nugent said: “This new law is both silly and dangerous. It is silly because medieval religious laws have no place in a modern secular republic, where the criminal law should protect people and not ideas. And it is dangerous because it incentives religious outrage, and because Islamic states led by Pakistan are already using the wording of this Irish law to promote new blasphemy laws at UN level.

I hope that opposition there is not limited to atheists. While in this country we are often faced with attempts by the religious right to use government to impose their religious views on others, there are also many other religious individuals in this country who understand the importance of separation of church and state.

Here are some of the quotations which were posted by Atheist Ireland, demonstrating the type of free expression of ideas which the law attempts to prevent:

Richard Dawkins: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

Björk: “The Buddhists say we come back as animals and they refer to them as lesser beings. Well, animals aren’t lesser beings, they’re just like us. So I say fuck the Buddhists.”

Frank Zappa: “To hang all this desperate sociology on the idea of The Cloud Guy who has The Big Book, who knows if you’ve been bad or good – and cares about any of it – is the chimpanzee part of the brain working.”

Update: 25 Blasphemous Quotations from Atheist Ireland.