The Hightower Report

Exporting Patients; and Change the Course


EXPORTING PATIENTS

Good grief. Just when you think that globalization can't get any more ludicrous and that America's health-care policies can't get any more ridiculous – along comes corporate profiteers with a cockamamy scheme to globalize our health care!

Already, X-rays and medical tests are being offshored to India, but this scheme goes further, taking a flying leap into the surreal. Instead of sending your tests to India, they want to send you there. Corporations are now asking workers who need serious operations to fly 7,000 miles away to get their treatments done in low-cost Indian hospitals. I've heard of doctors being distant, but this is absurd.

Let's say you have a heart condition or need a back operation. Your company can get your surgery done in India 80% cheaper than your local hospital will do it – but do you really want to be loaded on a plane for a 20-hour flight to Bangalore? What sick person wants to be transported halfway around the globe to cope with a foreign culture?

And, what if something goes wrong? Who is responsible, and what are your rights under Indian laws? Interestingly, companies shipping ill workers there require the patients to sign a release that basically says you are "on your own" when it comes to medical liability problems.

Like it or not, however, corporations are pushing the offshore option. The U.S. India Business Council exults that sending patients abroad promises to "deliver big advantages for both Indian and U.S. business." Well now, isn't that just dandy for business? But – hello – what the hell about patients?

Luckily, the steelworkers' union has geared up to block the exportation of workers to hospitals in India, or elsewhere, calling the scheme a "shocking" abuse. It's time to fix America's sick health-care system – not ship our people abroad to get care. To learn more, call the steelworkers' office: 205/951-1212.


CHANGE THE COURSE

Excellent news, Americans! At last, BushCheneyRummy & Company have decided that they can no longer "stay the course" in Iraq.

No, wait … I got that wrong. They have decided that they can no longer say "stay the course." Apparently, Karl Rove has looked at some polls, consulted a fortune teller, and read some chicken entrails – all of which revealed to him that "stay the course" is not working as a political catch phrase. Thus, the bon mot that George W. has been hurling at us for months to explain his Iraq "strategy" is dead. "He's no longer using it," said Bush's chief PR flack, Tony Snow.

Instead, the new buzz word is "benchmarks." Bush – previously portrayed as an unretreating, stone-solid war leader – suddenly is being presented as having more moves and flexibility than a ballet dancer – a veritable Balanchine of modern, adaptable war strategy. Now the Bushites say that they are boldly setting benchmarks of progress that the Iraqi government must achieve to continue earning the "patience" of George himself.

Yet, the Bush language-twisters were quick to explain that these benchmarks are in no way meant to be perceived as ultimatums to the hapless Iraqi leaders. So, in other words, "benchmark" is just another way to say, "stay the course."

Bush, Cheney, and Rummy are playing their same old cynical game, using rhetorical bluster and BS as political cover for their failed and disastrous Iraq policy. If the Bushites feel the need for a benchmark about progress in Iraq, they should look at the fact that we'll soon pass 2,800 Americans killed there by their incompetence and arrogance.

These craven chicken hawks are continuing to play politics with people's lives, and they won't change. We the People have to stop their stupidity by throwing the bums out and bringing our troops home.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit www.jimhightower.com. You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.
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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

globalization, U.S.-India Business Council, Steelworkers' Union, Iraq War, stay the course

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