Is There Such A Thing As Republican Medicine? Meet Former Doctor Prem Reddy
Prem Reddy, Republican jungle predator
No doubt some of my progressive friends would dispute even this, but Sarah Palin does have some meager accomplishments to her credit, even if not remotely worthy of the adulation she gets from the rank and file of Idiot America. She is their goddess and probably few of them have ever heard of or been concerned about former Senator/former Governor Frank Murkowski, a particularly and outrageously corrupt Republican-- even by Alaska standards-- who she vanquished on her road to the top of the GOP shitpile. Maybe there's another accomplishment somewhere along the line-- by all means let me know in the comments section-- but ridding Alaska of Frank Murkowski, while laudable, is hardly worth a vice presidential nomination, let along the kind of full scale cult worship she enjoys.
Teabaggers might have a harder time-- attention span-wise, etc-- with another American author (that's right; I had almost forgotten: Palin is an author, kinda/sorta), Barbara Ehrenreich, but she speaks far more lucidly and directly to their pain and the roots of their discontent and anguish (but only the 20-30% of teabaggers who are not primarily motivated by racism, xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia and misogyny). Nickled and Dimed is the classic, of course but let's take Ehrenreich's latest book, This Land Is
Writing in 2007 or '08 when Bush was still occupying the White House fighting a last ditch effort to keep needy children from getting healthcare, Ehrenreich tells the story of one of the more repulsive of Republican law-of-the-jungle advocates, California ex-doctor (he's been barred from practicing medicine) Prem Reddy, an Inland Empire crook whose life is centered around ripping off vulnerable people in need of medical attention. He's the owner of Prime Healthcare Services, one of California's biggest hospital chains-- as well as it's most predatory and shady.
Critics say Reddy-owned hospitals routinely turn away uninsured patients, an allegation the company denies.
On four occasions since 2002, inspectors have found that Prime Healthcare facilities failed to meet minimum federal safety standards, placing their Medicare funding at risk.
Records show that in one two-hour period during 2003, three uninsured patients left the emergency room at Desert Valley Hospital in Victorville after waiting up to four hours without being treated. Two of them were under 2 years old, including a 16-month-old girl who arrived with burns on her left hand.
The same year, Reddy discharged an uninsured patient he was personally treating who was in kidney failure, suggesting that the patient go to a nearby county facility where he could sign up for free care. The patient waited until the following day to visit another emergency room, records show.
State regulators found that the medical staff failed to make sure that discharging the patient "would not create a medical hazard."
Prem Reddy and several members of his immediate family working for Primecare have donated thousands of dollars to extreme right wing Republicans and to organizations that back them. Some of the most corrupt of California politicians, like Jerry Lewis, Buck McKeon, Kevin McCarthy, and Ken Calvert, have been especially favored beneficiaries, although Reddy seems to have discovered the Republicanness of Blue Dogs and has also lavished donations on "Democrats" who tend to vote with Republicans, like David Scott (Blue Dog-GA) and Chris Carney (Blue Dog-PA). So Reddy may not be able to practice medicine himself any longer, but he's still in control of a hefty chunk of medicine that is practiced across Southern California. Ehrenreich finds this just plain egregious.
The Los Angeles Times has reported a particularly lurid case of medical profiteering in the form of one Dr. Prem Reddy, who owns eight hospitals in Southern California. I do not begrudge any physician a comfortable lifestyle-- good doctoring is hard work-- but Dr. Reddy dwells in a 15,000-square-foot mansion featuring gold-plated toilets and keeps a second home, values at more than $9 million, in Beverly Hills, as well as a $1.4 million helicopter for commuting.
The secret behind his $300 million fortune? For one thing, he rejects the standard hospital practice of making contracts with insurance companies, because he feels that these contracts unduly limit his reimbursements. (In a battle between Aetna and Reddy, it would be hard to know which side to cheer for.) In addition, he's suspended much-needed services such as chemotherapy, a birthing center, and mental health care as insufficiently profitable. And his hospitals are infamous for refusing to treat uninsured patients, like a patient with kidney failure and a sixteen-month-old baby with a burn.
But Dr. Reddy-- who is, incidentally, a high-powered Republican donor-- has a principled reason for his piratical practices. According to the Los Angeles Times, he believes that patients "may simply deserve only the amount of care they can afford." He dismisses as "an entitlement mentality" the idea that everyone should be getting the same high quality health care. This is Bush's vaunted principle of "private medicine" at its nastiest: You don't get what you need, only what you can pay for.
If government insurance for children isn't expanded to all the families that need it [now Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is threatening to kick hundreds of thousands of children off a health care program], there is no question but that some children will die-- painfully perhaps and certainly unnecessarily. But at least they will have died for a principle.
Principle? Oh yeah; only the strong survive. A letter-to-the-editor writer in Lakeland, Florida, Ray Kohler, had a letter published yesterday in The Ledger that explains how Reddy's Republican vision of the predatory society has infiltrated the outer fringes of the Democratic Party as well:
When the Republicans continued to vote no on everything, that gave the power to a few senators to write the bill according to them. There were 56 Democrats that would have given this country a bill that was not written by the insurance industry.
As most of you know, keeping health coverage for all and the cost down was what these 56 senators wanted to do.
For starters, there was the single-payer option, the public option, Medicare for all, or the same plan that Congress has. Later on, there was a proposal for people to buy into Medicare at age 55.
Did any Republican do his, or her, elected job to see that we got any of these options in the bill? No, they stood pat with their standards ways of no.
We had one senator who was all talk for Medicare for people to join under 55. Then Joseph Lieberman [I-Conn.] backed off his words. As most of you know he is owned by Aetna, one of the largest writers for health insurance.
Then you had Sen. Ben Nelson [D-Neb.], who wanted abortion language to his liking put into the bill or he wouldn't go along with it. He sold out America for Nebraska, all the while the Republicans sat there with their no hats on.
For America to compete with other countries that have coverage, will this work? I know that this bill could be changed if some senators get off their butts and do right for America, but if this is the best we can do, then I place the blame on the 40 Republican senators and not just on the four moderate-conservate senators who shaped this bill.
Is there any answer? Only one: campaign finance reform.