Friday, December 27, 2013

Will Capitalism Pervert Everything?

The Washington Post has a good article on profit-making in the hospice industry.  Apparently profits are good, largely at the expense of the public. 

My only experience with hospice was during my friend Mel's last days last June.  I was most impressed with the care provided for Mel and assistance to his family.  All in all, very good.  The hospice worker(s?) was a volunteer but was part of an organization (a friend also volunteered there) that scheduled visits, provided medical equipment and probably other services.   If I thought about the larger organization, I assumed it was non-profit.  This morning, following the link from the provider located at the address where I returned a stray part from the oxygen system, I found the home page of the LHC Group.  It does not look particularly non-profit. 

Profit status notwithstanding, the hospice care I witnessed during Mel's passing was everything I could wish for myself or anyone.  I wasn't in on all the details of the family's experience with the hospice but I have no complaint about anything I saw.  I also recognize that those services come at a cost.  Money will be involved. 

So it should not come as a surprise to learn that hospice care is big business.  More surprising, though,  to find that Mel is among the least welcome patients.  He died within a week; short durations are not at all profitable.  Reading the Post article, I find that idea of hospice care has  been turned on its head to create profits for investors at public expense.  The "recruiting" practices of the various companies bothered me.  I would think that the need for hospice care would be initiated by the individual or family, not in response to a sales pitch.  But that's all part of the for-profit business plan:  expand, grow and produce profits.

Maybe this system works--Mel was well-cared for--but I'm skeptical.  Our profit-driven health care system produces poor results at high cost so extending that model further is not wise.  In the short term, think of the additional care that could be purchased with what Medicare now pays for corporate profit.


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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

At War At Christmas

Here at Unsolicited Opinion thoughts of war are part of my Christmas.  That's why John McCutcheon's "Christmas in the Trenches" spoke so strongly to me when I first heard it in 1984.   McCutcheon writes and sings evocatively of human beings  in war.  Not a meaningless Christmas song but rather an honest lesson in the reality of war.

The story bears repeating.  Here 'tis on this Christmas Eve 2013 with all best wishes.

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

My 2013 Best Fiction

Of the fiction  I read in 2013 two titles stand out: Stalin's Barber by Paul Levin and The Taliban Cricket Club by Timeri N. Marari.  Both are tales of cleverness and chance in perilous times and places told with reasonable accuracy and imagination.  Stalin's Barber is set in the 1930's Soviet Union I know from studying Russian history in college; the story is not at all improbable.  The Taliban Cricket Club is from history that I have lived and, while the dire conditions under Taliban rule are all too real, the plot is a real stretch.  It's clever, though and to Marari's credit, he makes it seem possible. 

Both books were published in 2012.