Minnich: Brace for feeding frenzy

Judging from the junk phone calls I get, we’re in for a feeding frenzy at the public trough if Medicare for All isn’t done right.

Just the other day, I received two recorded messages from that robocall lady instructing me to dial a certain number to get my free knee brace or whatever if I suffer from chronic pain. Or I can dial 9 to put her on the do not call list. I wonder how many people push the number 9 at the end of a recorded call. I also wonder how many people respond to the offer of a free brace only to be instructed once again that nothing is free.


There is little truth in the sales pitches that have invaded the privacy of our homes via phones and the ever-convenient answering machine feature. Modern access to our personal devices leaves us vulnerable to the lies of presidents and kings and those who would separate us not only from the contents of our bank accounts but our civic and human rights.

Their strategies are increasingly sophisticated. Sometimes a sales call shows up on my caller ID as originating from the post office or a local business — even city hall. Scruples are not problematic for professional marketeers or pollsters. They will call early in the morning and late at night, but their favorite time is at supper time because research shows them that’s when people are most likely to pick up the phone.

You can buy a phone with a button that lets you hit “block call” when you get a sales pitch, but it has its drawbacks. So far, I have blocked my cardiologist’s office, but the marketeers still find a way to get the call through.

A week or so ago we had four quiet days in a row, and I entertained hopes that government agents had found the secret cave of the emperor of unsolicited calls and sent all the offenders off to concentration camps. Turned out that I had forgot that I had unplugged the phone from the wall. It’s worth trying more often. I also forgot that most of the corporate kings play golf and lounge by the pool with the government people who might be in position to remedy the abuses.

I know people are yanking the land line out of their homes and relying on the ubiquitous cellphones they carry everywhere. But the marketeers are hopping right on that; I’m getting calls on my cell that I don’t want.

What bothers me most is that the escalating abuse of good technology and the corruption of good ideas is making it easy for the unscrupulous to profit from ideas like more accessible healthcare.

Earlier, less enlightened civilizations accepted privileges like public education, safe working conditions, and certain civil and human rights as the realm of those who were born with money or who had the luck and help and means to acquire a place of privilege.

Most of the world’s more advanced cultures now share values of inclusion and equality that we are still debating. Health care is no longer just for the wealthy or well-connected. It is and should be considered a right, at least for essential life-sustaining or life-altering issues. The ideals of health care should carry some weight in an advancing nation and world leader.

Medicare for All should be used to pay doctors to treat patients, not pad the wallets of marketeers, insurance company executives, and other hucksters or government bureaucracies. Some consideration should be given to reimbursing pharmaceutical companies for research and development for cures and finding new antibiotics, but not for charging exorbitant prices for inexpensive maintenance drugs used to treat chronic ailments. In short, pay medical professionals for what they know and what they do and leave the doctor/patient relations up to the principals.

Two obstacles stand between Americans and a leading health care system: Corporate greed and political opposition from those representing those whose only values are rooted in self-interest regardless of the consequences to others.