07/13/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Medical System Meltdown

Though video cameras were originally installed in hospital emergency rooms for security and protection against lawsuits, two videos captured on them do more to indict the hospitals they originate from than protect them. The June 19th death of Esmin Elizabeth Green, a 49-year-old woman who, while waiting nearly 24 hours to be seen in a Brooklyn, New York emergency room keeled over in convulsions disregarded by medical personnel, guards, and fellow patients dying before anyone took the time to investigate her distress, would be horrendous in its inhumanity as a lone incident. Yet it mirrors another instance of medical neglect that occurred in Los Angeles a year ago. In that case, Edith Rodriguez, 43, died of a perforated bowel on May 9 at Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital, while being ignored by hospital personnel though she was delivered to the facility by police officers bleeding from the mouth and in obvious distress complaining of great pain.

The fact that these two incidents occurred in America's coastal "liberal" cities might give those who live in middle and southern America a false sense of security thinking that their sense of community and shared moral values somehow insulates them from the problem. Shastri Swaminathan, MD, Illinois State Medical Society President states

"We are shocked and frustrated that Congress has not put aside its political differences to keep Medicare patients' access to doctors uninterrupted. The effects of a 10.6 percent Medicare payment cut for doctors' services could cripple the entire health care system because most health insurance companies base their reimbursement rates on Medicare. So when doctors say this Medicare cut will drastically reduce our ability to see patients, we're not exaggerating -- we're worried about keeping our doors open for patients."

The crisis in Texas and Florida Medical communities prove that we are all facing a serious Medical system meltdown in the near future if we allow the Republicans to continue to dictate who is deserving to live or die. Unless you condone the dumping of patients who don't have coverage on the streets of our cities as a way to keep your hospitals profitable, you should have a clear choice come November. Examine McCain's Healthcare proposal versus Obama's plan. Mayor Bloomberg got it right in his response to the Kings County Hospital Center's insane insensitivity.

"I can't explain what happened there... Does it say anything about our society? 'I hope not' is the basic answer."

If the election of 2008 has to be decided on one issue let it not be the economy or the war in Iraq though I have argued that they are in fact the same issue parsed separately by the media in a false set of choices. Let this election be decided on the issue of who will offer us a medical plan that will allow us to live into the future. The 18 billion dollars we waste each month in Iraq would go a long way toward alleviating this crisis.

The British are celebrating the 60th anniversary of their National Health Service (NHS) and though savvy politicians used it and the Canadian plans as reasons to scrap Hillary Clinton's National Health Plan back in 1994 and unless we recognize that the plan offered by Obama though criticized as falling short of Hillary's is at least a real attempt to offer every American healthcare regardless of income, race of preexisting conditions. The fact that the women who died in the above listed cases were of minorities should not go unnoticed. If McCain and Gramm are allowed to determine our medical future care, we will surely suffer from the finest medical care only the wealthy can afford. As Sean Tully notes in McCain's Econ Brain

"On the economy, McCain's most daring manifesto is his healthcare plan. Not surprisingly, it bears the Gramm imprint. In fact, McCain has been heeding Gramm's "power-to-the-consumer" approach for more than a decade. The two senators bonded when they linked arms to fight Hillary Clinton's ill-fated healthcare program in 1993. "We couldn't get any press coverage in Washington, DC, so we traveled all over the country, to the regional media markets," says Gramm. In 150 meetings at hospitals and clinics, McCain and Gramm relentlessly pounded the Clinton plan, helping fire the voter outrage that killed the plan in 1994."

To those who have not taken the time to investigate either of the candidates plans I say shame on you. You should be locked in a dark theater and forced to watch Michael Moore's Sicko until you see the light!