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Loving Lily. Debating with Dale on health care.

LilycoverFRIEND OF LILY

I recently read the interview you did with Lily Tomlin [“Classic Lily,” September 2007 OutSmart]. Like you I am a huge fan of Miss T. I wanted to tell you that I really loved that article. How fabulous it must’ve been to have talked and heard all those wonderful stories from Lily herself. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet Lily myself a few times, and she is indeed a very nice, warm, down-to-earth person who makes you forget you’re talking to a living legend.

Todd Jay
Minneapolis, Minnesota
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HEALTH CARE: ANOTHER VIEW

Dale Carpenter extols the virtues of a free-market, insurance-driven health-care delivery system as only a state university (Minnesota) employee who has seven different health plan options to choose from could [“OutRight,” “Propanganda, More or Less,” September (Part 1) and October (Part 2), 2007 OutSmart].

Carpenter writes of the private health insurance and associated free market delivery system as if it were an egalitarian agency on the lookout for the best interests of those—increasingly fewer—people who get access to care. I guess he doesn’t remember all of his friends in the ’80s who were denied coverage or reimbursement for services by Aetna, Blue Cross, et al., as the AIDS epidemic blossomed. Or those who lost coverage because they could now not work. These private companies and the employers who purchased their policies didn’t lead the way for AIDS coverage—they were dragged by activists and the courts.

And to tout the investment in research that would be lost from our pharma companies is totally disingenuous. Well over half of pharma research in the U.S. is funded by our tax dollars now. In fact over half of all health-care spending in the United States is government funded!

Mr. Carpenter expounds from the conservative right. These folks disdain government, so over the last seven years as they have ballooned the cost of government to record proportions, they brought it to its knees with incompetence. For decades, Americans could pretty much rely on the bureaucrats and the bureacracy to keep most things moving pretty well regardless of who controlled the White House or Congress: FEMA (“heck of a job, Brownie”); consumer protection (25 million tons of E. coli-ridden beef recalled this month alone); scientific research (NIH research edited by White House PR hacks); war (throw a dart on this one and you’ll hit an example); justice (Gonzales to Congress: “I don’t recall remembering”): This list could go on ad infinitum. But alas, the “conservatives” decided to make all things government political, and now we can have no confidence that over the long term things will work pretty well in our government.

So now indeed, we are left with two awful options: a possibly intermittent, incompetent, and corrupt government to assure a health-care system, or an equally greedy private system that has repeatedly shown its disregard for its insured clients while siphoning off as much as 30 cents of every health-care dollar to pay for bloated administrative cadres and multimillion dollar executive salaries.

Hope your student ratings remain high, Dale, as I wouldn’t want you to have to experience life without seven different employer-sponsored health-plan options. No offense, but at your age, if you still lived in Texas you’d have to resort to the state’s “high risk” insurance pool for individual coverage! Kind of ironic, isn’t it?

David Arpin
Houston

Editor’s note “OutRight” columnist Dale Carpenter is a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School. He began his column for OutSmart in 1984 when he lived in Houston.
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CORRECTIONS

In our Gayest & Greatest reader poll coverage, we listed the mainstream website URL for Concierge Travel, voted Best Local Travel Agency (“Everybody Scream!” October 2007). The website with information directed at GLBT travelers is www.conciergetravel.cc.

We published an incorrect phone number for the Montrose Counseling Center in our October 2007 issue (“News Briefs”). The correct number is 713/529-0037.

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