Saturday, September 03, 2011

Reconciling conservative "logic" is like pulling teeth

By Zandar

A pretty depressing story from just across the river from me in Cincy: a 24-year old man is dead because without health insurance he couldn't afford antibiotics for an infected tooth.

A 24-year-old Cincinnati father died from a tooth infection this week because he couldn't afford his medication, offering a sobering reminder of the importance of oral health and the number of people without access to dental or health care.

According to NBC affiliate WLWT, Kyle Willis' wisdom tooth started hurting two weeks ago. When dentists told him it needed to be pulled, he decided to forgo the procedure, because he was unemployed and had no health insurance.

Hundreds of people lined up overnight to receive free dental service. Woodstock First Baptist Church teamed with Georgia Mission of Mercy  to begin a two-day FREE, dental clinic for low- or no-income adults who cannot pay for dental care.
The line at a free dental clinic in Georgia last month
When his face started swelling and his head began to ache, Willis went to the emergency room, where he received prescriptions for antibiotics and pain medications. Willis couldn't afford both, so he chose the pain medications.

The tooth infection spread, causing his brain to swell. He died Tuesday

And yet that's the reality of the country we live in. America is the richest, most advanced, most powerful country ever according to conservatives, and if you don't agree you hate America. But at the same time, conservatives scream bloody murder that there's no way Americans can afford to help the least among us, because programs to do so immorally traps the nation's poor in unending poverty, where they are a drain on the "job creators."

Conservatives say only America can lead the world from a moral and military standpoint, American exceptionalism is our manifest destiny on the global stage. And then they turn around and warn that we are a bankrupt, destitute, third-world socialist hellhole where the "misguided efforts" to "bribe" the weakest among us with government assistance is the only way a Democrat could ever get elected.

God wants Republicans in power, they say. When a Democrat is elected, God hasn't failed, but the people have been fooled by the evil socialist liberals. America would be a shining utopia, and example to peoples across the planet, if we just got over our baser instincts to help the poor and simply left them to their own fate.

If that's confusing you, congratulations. You have a conscience and are capable of both complex logic and compassion. It also means you're probably not a Republican. Here's the worst, most tragic part of Willis' death:

"People want to believe there's a safety net that catches all of these people, and there isn't," said Dr. Glenn Stream, president-elect of the American Academy of Family Physicians. He noted that it is often young men who are the most likely to lack health coverage.

Dr. Jim Jirjis, director of general internal medicine at Vanderbilt University, said people, like Willis, without access to care often die of conditions that were much more common decades ago.

"He [Willis] might as well have been living in 1927," Jirjis said. "All of the advances we've made in medicine today and are proud of, for people who don't have coverage, you might as well never have developed those."

There are a number of free dental clinics in operation around the country, where dentists volunteer to provide care to those without health insurance. But even if Willis had access to a free dental clinic, Stream said he still may not have been able to get the care he needed for his infection. "The wait is often months at these clinics, and this young man died within two weeks of his problem," Stream said. 

According to the article one in three Americans forgo dental checkups because they can't afford them. Even if you have dental insurance, you have to take time off from work to go to the dentist, and the combination of the expense and lost work time puts even simple dental care out of reach for some 100 million Americans.

And yet the richest country on Earth can't afford to help its own poor. There's something deeply wrong with that. Trying to reconcile that "logic" that we're the best country ever and flat broke is not only quixotic to an extreme, but deadly as well.


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  • Did you even read the story?

    The poor man died because he made horrible choices, not because Republicans killed him.

    Not every human misery is an allegory for your political benefit.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:04 PM  

  • The man's wealthy aunt is "devastated"

    Collins said she intends to write to President Obama and Congress to tell them what happened to Willis.

    “We have got to make a difference with our health care,” she said. “With people losing their jobs, they’re having to make serious choices – do I eat, or do I get my medicine? It’s crazy. And this is America.”

    By Blogger RightKlik, at 3:13 AM  

  • It's a shame Patti Collins couldn't give her nephew $27, but can find the time to blame every other American for not accepting higher taxes to pay for her nephew's medication.

    By Blogger Leland, at 10:20 AM  

  • Enough money to buy Lortabs and cigarettes but not enough money to buy antibiotics?

    No, he chose to spend his money the way he saw fit. He chose...poorly.

    By Anonymous KS, at 11:20 AM  

  • He had to make a choice because we don't give away medicine for free. You and I don't know what other parts of our healthcare system would become disfunctional if we did. We do know medicine isn't free, and when something becomes free demand for it goes up. And I hope you know that there are people with spreadsheets at hospitals trying to figure out the sweet spot between treating each patient without regard to cost versus treating the most patients with available resources, right? Currently, that sweet spot falls short of giving away medicine. Perhaps if our doctors and hospitals weren't paying so much for liability insurance and forms in seven languages the meds could be free.

    We make a dozen decisions every day that can hurt us. I can try to make it through the yellow light and get T-boned. I can ignore that lump in my breast and die of cancer. I can treat school with no respect and live the rest of my life in poverty. We every day have choices. Jim Henson chose not to inconvenience his family on a holiday weekend and died of pneumonia. It is a sad fact that you make your choices, and then your choices make you. That's how life works in a world of finite resources.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:25 AM  

  • An alternative would be to treat Mr. Willis as a farm animal. His medication would have been purchased and administered by his benevolent owners. Once better, Mr. Willis would be put back to work. Mr. Willis would not be able to make the poor choice of pain killers versus antibiotics as he would have no choice in the matter at all. As his education did not arm him with the knowledge to care for himself, we could dispense with education all together. Freedom has costs and responsibilities. If you are arguing that he could not be responsible for himself, then you are arguing for taking away his free will. Once you have done that you have arrived at your liberal paradise, the Animal Farm.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:43 AM  

  • Here is a suggestion.

    If you want to be sure uninsured or underinsured individuals can get the pharmaceuticals they need, go to a clinic in your area and volunteer to pay.

    When the receptionist at the clinic motions you over and tells you, "This is X. He needs a ride to the pharmacy and somebody to pay for his prescription," do it.

    There is nothing stopping you.

    Or are you happier just to flap your gums about how doing it is somebody else's job?

    We'll see. Be sure to post the presriptions you paid for, and the cash register receipts showing you paid, on this site. After all, you wouldn't want us to think you are a "prescription chickenhawk."

    By Anonymous HeatSeeker, at 1:42 PM  

  • I'm calling BS as not affording antibiotics. Publix, CVS, Walmart will all fill an antibiotic prescription for free. The man made the choices and paid the consequences. Health Insurance or lack thereof had nothing to do with it. I have HI and I still must pay for my meds out of pocket.

    By Blogger Dan, at 5:56 PM  

  • Always great to see conservatives trying to justify America's horrendously unfair and unjust health-care system.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 9:58 PM  

  • You're an idiot, Stickings. No one's arguing the health system's perfect. Willis made stupid choices, and you're generalizing to the system? You play the blame game. You're not much smarter than the dead guy. Of course, Obama's health care bill --- which no doubt you backed --- is one more reason why this president's reelection chances are dead. It must suck, being a dumb progressive. The pendulum's swinging back, a little early for your side, unfortunately.

    By Blogger AmPowerBlog, at 3:15 AM  

  • Always great to see conservatives trying to justify America's horrendously unfair and unjust health-care system.

    Uh, he GOT health care. He was able to see an ER physician who did exactly the right thing (unless done under GA, you cannot remove a badly infected tooth), get the infection down and then see a dentist.

    Now do you mean "fair" like the UK, where there are so few dentists most people need to see private dentists for care or Canada, who doesn't even have "free" dental care?

    How "fair" is "fair"?

    By Blogger Tom, at 5:57 PM  

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