DICK BAYNTON: Healthcare U.S.A.


The total cost of healthcare in the US was about 18% of GDP in 2019; with Gross Domestic Product around $21 trillion, healthcare costs about $3.8 trillion; individual costs annually are about $5,000. If we continue paying about $780 million annually for illegal aliens’ healthcare, the additional burden will be paid by taxpaying legal citizens.

One or more of the Democratic candidates vying for Presidential nomination advocates single payer healthcare insurance for everyone in the U.S. V

Dick Baynton

arious ‘experts’ suggest that the ‘Bernie Plan for healthcare’ could cost from about $32 trillion to $49 trillion over years 2022 to 2031. Paying for it would reach into all economic levels of taxpayers with concentration on the wealthiest of us. This would be defined as ‘single-payer healthcare’ or ‘universal healthcare’ with responsibility for administration by federal and state governments.

The Snyder Act of 1921provided for healthcare for Native Americans; responsibility for Native American healthcare was transferred from the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of Interior) to the PHS (Public Health Service) in 1955. Healthcare is rendered to these Native American Indians and Alaskans amounting to about 60% of a total of 3.7 million AI & AN people. The 2020 budget for this care is $5.9 billion, increased by $392 million over 2019. This funding covers several thousand healthcare professionals, administrators and staff that are located in 36 states with 26 hospitals, 59 health centers, 32 health stations plus 33 urban health projects. A high percentage of workers are Native Americans / Alaskans.

Journalists from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Center had read some disturbing reports and made a visit to Rosebud and Pine Ridge Reservations in South Dakota. Stories were told about a baby born on a bathroom floor and about closure of an ER as tribal patients died in ambulances awaiting hospital entry. Other tales were told of a 12-year-old girl who tried to hang herself using a broken cord from the ‘call-light’ after being left alone in an emergency room. Another story was told of a man being restrained with pepper spray causing a fatal heart attack.

Recently a medical doctor was indicted on eight counts of sexual abuse on the Yankton Sioux Reservation in the southeastern corner of South Dakota. Although the doctor was relieved of his duties and placed on administrative leave he was later allowed to do administrative work in another office. Another doctor, a pediatrician who had served for 30 years in several locations was sentenced to five life terms for abusing Native American boys.

In 2014, a Veterans Health Administration investigation reported that 40 veteran patients had died waiting for appointments in Phoenix, AZ.  A target had been set for veteran patients to receive an appointment within 14 days. In order to avoid disciplinary action, records were falsified so they showed concurrence with the 14-day target. In June of 2014, an investigation revealed that 120,000 veterans were waiting or never received care; schedulers were making up ‘unofficial’ records that contained false information.

The V.A. spent $200 million on wrongful deaths in 2014 and one regional director received a $63,000 bonus in spite of an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease that led to the death of seven veterans and illness among 21 others at a Pittsburgh VHA hospital. Records for patients were altered and performance and unearned bonuses were doled out to supervisors and others who couldn’t be fired at the time. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, a retired Army General retired shortly thereafter.

The Veterans Health Administration employs about 400,000 professionals and support staff at 170 medical centers and 1,074 outpatient sites serving about 9 million out of a total of 18.2 million living veterans; the 2020 budget for the VA is requested to be around $243 billion. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs is Robert Wilkie who was appointed on July 30th, 2018.

Governments regulate commerce and enforce laws but are utterly incapable of operating business enterprises such as healthcare facilities for Native Americans and Alaskans and millions of veterans. The reason is that governments depend not on efficiency with positive patient outcomes but on the budget created by taxes paid by citizens. As shown above, government officials and workers are too-often not accountable.

So explain why we should entrust the healthcare of another 300 million citizens to ignoble politicians?

Dick Baynton