Real Americans in the South
Paraguay Does What the U.S. Can’t: Universal Health Care
by ROCKY NEPTUN
As 2009 drew to a close, U.S. Congressional members, each having one of the best health care policies on Earth for themselves and family, were backing down from the power of health care industry lobbyists, and with a wink of O.K. from Obama, gutted real health care reform in America.
While the wealth pimps in Washington, D.C. managed, over public opposition, to gut any fair, just, equitable public option and, instead, handed the HMO crooks a high-priced Christmas present in mandatory requirement for their extortion policies, the government of tiny Paraguay gave its citizens a gift of all public health fees being eliminated nationwide on Christmas Day.
Life over wealth won out, as President Fernando Lugo, a former bishop who took office in August 2008, instituted another round in his government’s efforts to provide free health care to everyone. “What we are doing is making health care a right, regardless of a person's ability to pay,” Diego Gamarra, director general of health services in the Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare (MSPBS), told reporters.
Seven percent of Paraguay's population of 6.1 million currently have private health coverage, 20 percent are covered by the health services of the social security institute, the Instituto de Previsión Social, and the rest depend on the public health system. But an estimated 40 percent of the population were unable to afford health care of any kind.
Unlike the United States and its big lie about health care “reform,” the New Year in Paraguay saw all 1,000 public hospitals and health clinics in Paraguay accessible and free to anyone.
The MSPBS gradually began to make some public health services free in September 2008, when fees for office or outpatient visits and emergency room visits were waived. Later, hospital admission fees were eliminated, along with charges for intensive care, post-op incision care, nebulizer treatments, treatment in an infant incubator, oxygen therapy, surgery and other services. In late 2009, fees were removed for diagnostic tests in all specialties, and for dental and ophthalmological services.
However, Paraguay has the same problem that the United States has — wealthy families and large powerful corporations who do not pay their fair share in taxes and, thus, public money to fund public projects is limited.
In the U.S., where government is owned by the rich, for the rich, with so many tax loopholes and deduction allowances written by lobbyists, lawyers, accountants and others who serve the elite, public projects are financed by deficient spending, borrowing from the those very fat cats the money they are withholding from the public kitty and then, adding insult to injury, paying them a high interest on that stolen money.
In Paraguay, corporations and the rich simply evade taxes. There is no system in place to detect, let alone enforce, these parasites pay their fair share. President Lugo hopes to institute laws which crack down on evasion, however, the Supreme Court — as in the U.S. in Franklin Roosevelt’s day — is made up of wealthy men, all members of the Colorado Party of former dictator Gen. Alfredo Stroessner.
Like the United States, where the conservative lackeys of the rich, Republicans, whore Lieberman and other bought Democrats, the Supreme Court and most of the corporate media, will fight justice in health care tooth and nail, likewise the Colorado Party and the former elite of Paraguay will selfishly cling to their wealth while children and the ill die of neglect.
The deference however, I suspect, will be that while we here in the U.S. snivel and whimper and in delusion try health care reform at the state level, where HMO wealth is even more effective in buying elections, the citizens of Paraguay will take to the streets and physically take control of their mandate of health care for all.
How pitiful — and embarrassing — to be a U.S. citizen today, especially since our southern cousins are showing the world of what it is like to be a “real American” — with justice and equality for all.