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Thursday, April 06, 2017

An example of government health care

Once upon a time, the United States government gave free health care to more than 600 black men.

Isn't that nice?

Let's see what happened next.

From NBC News:
It has been 45 years since the nation learned that more than 600 African-American men from rural Alabama were experimented on without their consent, and left untreated in a notorious federally funded syphilis study.
The participants in the "U.S. Public Health Study of Untreated Syphilis in Negro Males in Macon County, Ala.," have all since died. Ernest Hendon, who passed away in January 2004, was the last survivor. But this week, in the town where these husbands, fathers, brothers, and great-great grandfathers were recruited, they lived again through a great crowd of witnesses who gathered to tell stories.
The lives and fate of these men are now well-known through countless books and movies. And every first-year medical student learns about the syphilis study conducted from 1932 to 1972, in which a group of black men, some with syphilis, were given a placebo treatment and monitored while their health declined.
And of course, there is the Indian Health Service, as well as the VA hospitals.

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  1. No "Funny" or "Cool" in this one. Theoretically, that or something like it will never happen again. We've got the VA stories, and regardless of Paullie "The Beard" Krugman's statements, the British NHS has plenty of screw-ups.

  2. "A total of 600 men were enrolled in the study. Of this group 399, who had syphilis were a part of the experimental group and 201 were control subjects. Most of the men were poor and illiterate sharecroppers from the county.

    "There were no proven treatments for syphilis when the study began [in 1932]. When penicillin became the standard treatment for the disease in 1947 the medicine was withheld as a part of the treatment for both the experimental group and control group."

  3. Montesquieu said in discussing Augustus that the first ruler at the onset of a tyranny was at an advantage over those that follow in that those under his rule still have the habits of initiative and haven't developed the servile mentality that will mark those who follow.
    I read an article by Theodore Dalrymple several years back where he describes the transition into the National Health Service in Great Britain. The above held true. The first generation of docs generally worked the same way they had habituated themselves to in private practice, and each following generation showed progressively less initiative. He also noted that both Great Britain and the USSR never wanted for people wanting to be physicians because there are always young people who think that they can save the world. They end up being beaten by the system and jaded after a few years.
    In our case the increasing corporatization of health care has gotten our young physicians off to a faster start. The placeholder time clock mentality is already here. It's just a matter of taking the next steps and engaging in cost cutting and rationing of services rendered by people with no personal stake in how things work and the attitudes of bureaucrats.

  4. Just for the record, in case anyone asks: As bad as this study was (and it is one of the more shameful legacies of "progressive" governments), it must be pointed out that all the men in the study got syphilis the old-fashioned way. No, I'm not passing judgement on them or anything like that. But certain over-educated under-learned types have asserted that the men were deliberately infected by Uncle Sam. That's about the only thing in this whole sordid story that the Gubbmint ISN'T guilty of.