Saturday, April 21, 2007

Infant Mortality Rising In The South As Government Aid Drops

Simply put: government can do things that no other entity can. Providing adequate health care to those who need it is one important example. That has been proved, all week, and Sunday's New York Times provides yet more proof:
For decades, Mississippi and neighboring states with large black populations and expanses of enduring poverty made steady progress in reducing infant death. But, in what health experts call an ominous portent, progress has stalled and in recent years the death rate has risen in Mississippi and several other states.

The setbacks have raised questions about the impact of cuts in welfare and Medicaid and of poor access to doctors, and, many doctors say, the growing epidemics of obesity, diabetes and hypertension among potential mothers, some of whom tip the scales here at 300 to 400 pounds.

“I don’t think the rise is a fluke, and it’s a disturbing trend, not only in Mississippi but throughout the Southeast,” said Dr. Christina Glick, a neonatologist in Jackson, Miss., and past president of the National Perinatal Association.
Of course, there is a racial component, with blacks suffering an infant mortality rate more than double that of whites; and, needless to say, poverty is also seen as a key factor. In Mississippi, Republican Governor (and former Chairman of the Republican National Committee) Haley Barbour's policy of cuts in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, along with a deliberately increased complexity of enrollment, are specifically blamed. Punish the poor. It's the Republican way.

This report comes after a week in which the Toronto Star reported that:
Health outcomes for patients in Canada are as good as or better than in the United States, even though per capita spending is higher south of the border, suggest Canadian and U.S. researchers who crunched data from 38 studies.

The findings were published in the inaugural edition of Open Medicine, a new online medical journal launching Wednesday in the aftermath of a rift last year between some editors and the publisher of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

"In looking at patients in Canada with a specific diagnosis compared to Americans with the same diagnosis, in Canada patients had at least as good an outcome as their American counterparts – and in many situations, a better health outcome," said one of the 17 authors, Dr. P.J. Devereaux, a cardiologist and clinical epidemiologist at McMaster University in Hamilton.
And Jerome a Paris, on Daily Kos, reporting about his own personal experience, lauded France's socialized system.

Our own wonderful system now has us ranked as having only the 42nd best infant mortality rate in the world, which puts us two behind our politically repressed and economically depressed southern neighbor, Cuba.

Of course, the Senate Republicans last week made their own contribution to our health care crisis, by blocking Democratic attempts to lower the price of prescription drugs for senior citizens.

For the young or old, on health care, as on everything else, it is abundantly clear: government help is needed, but the Republicans care less about the health of people than about the bottom lines of their corporate masters.

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