Irony with a sting

John Taylor: September 14, 20070 Comments

Do any of these fit your definition of irony?

POINT: The American Cancer Society has switched its advertising strategy this year from anti-smoking to advocating for universal health coverage. That spawned a Sept. 14 scolding op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by former New York lieutenant governor Betsy McCaughey who wrote, in part:

"Despite the large number of uninsured, cancer patients in the U.S. are most likely to be screened regularly, have the fastest access to treatment once they are diagnosed with the disease, and can get new effective drugs long before they're available in most other countries."

COUNTERPOINT: In its Sept. 13 edition, the WS Journal ran a front-page, heart-rending story about an uninsured woman's four-year battle with health-care bureaucracy that saw her denied care for cancer at least six times as she was termed either not sick enough or not poor enough.

The root of Shirley Loewe's problem? She went to a hospital instead of a nearby clinic for treatment of a rare breast cancer. What trapped her, the story said, was a loophole in the Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act of 2000 that allows states to provide coverage only to patients diagnosed at clinics funded by a federal cancer-detection program. Apparently 21 states still use that loophole to exclude patients.

Ms. Loewe died after horrific struggles -- was it the cancer or the lack of insurance?

POINT: How crowded is a hospital's emergency department? One yardstick is the acronym LWBS -- "left without being seen" -- patients who register, get fed up of waiting and walk out.

COUNTERPOINT: At hospitals in Texas, New Jersey and elsewhere, self-service computer kiosks are popping up in emergency departments allowing walk-in patients to register and briefly list their complaints. Call it "computer triage," if you want.

The Miami Herald said the kiosks shorten the check-in lines but don't eliminate the long wait before non-urgent patients are seen by a nurse. One patient was quoted as saying the process was impersonal, but quicker. Even so, she walked out after three hours without seeing a doctor.

'NUFF SAID:  "Salt and Pepper" cartoon in the Sept. 14 WSJ. Person eyeballs a sign, which reads: "Please take a number if it will make you feel any better."