Sunday, July 5, 2009

Government and Healthcare

When I was working as a Foreign Service Officer in the Philippines, I had the opportunity to do a political reporting tour of parts of the island of Panay. At dinner one night, the mayor of the city, our host, proudly told me of his health initiative; there were specially assigned health assistants in the barangays (barrios, neighborhoods, etc....usually very, very poor areas) who could give people slips of paper entitling them to certain kinds of medical care and medicine. Here's the catch, though: the health assistants only gave out these medical vouchers to people who supported the mayor politically. If they hadn't supported him, they were out of luck. And he was using public money to support his initiative! He thought he was quite clever; I thought he was inhumane and criminal.

Having seen this on Panay is one of the reasons why I never want the U.S. government to become the major health provider in this country.

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