Chair, DA Panama

After all of our arguments among ourselves are done, we are still all that's left to defend Americans and American values beyond US shores.


  • posted about Tales from 9°N, on the skinny part of Latin America #DAresists #Medicare4all on Facebook 2017-09-21 14:17:42 -0400
    Healthcare Stories: Tales from 9°N, on the skinny part of Latin America #DAresists #Medicare4all

    Tales from 9°N, on the skinny part of Latin America #DAresists #Medicare4all

    1. For starters, I grew up colonial, in a place with socialized medicine. That is, the former Canal Zone. When people object to calling the Canal Zone socialistic on the grounds that it was racially segregated, I have to agree, up to a point. The townsites were segregated but the hospitals were not, at least not among Canal Zone residents or PanCanal or US military base employees. But Panamanians without such ties could not get treated at Canal Zone hospitals. It was a tiny and odd microcosm, but it's a lie to say that socialize medicine could never prosper under the American flag. 2. My brother, who was not born in Panama and thus was not a Panamanian citizen like me, died a little more than a year ago. It was liver disease, and since he was not a citizen and had no Panamanian Seguro Social benefits, he went to Santo Tomas Hospital, on the Ministry of Health side of the dual public health care system here, and had to pay. He was there for two weeks, with all sorts of tests. It cost the family a little over $3,000. When they referred him to the Instituto Oncologico for further tests to see if it was liver cancer, at that point he was not allowed further access to the Panamanian system and had to go back to the USA for treatment. As in going on SSI and having Uncle Sam pick up the tab, at great expense. He was pretty sure that he was dying when he left and they pretty much confirmed that with a well advanced Hep C diagnosis. He spent the last six months of his life in Colorado, when his preference would have been to die in Panama. And Uncle Sam would have saved an awful lot of money had there been an agreement to reimburse Panama, maybe plus a surcharge, of the cost of what things are here, and treat my brother here. 3. The private side of health care here? The Seguro Social / Ministerio de Salud system drives private costs down, but the private hospitals are rapacious. One example of that was the first of three criminal defamation charges I have fended off over the years here. During the Mireya Moscoso administration one of her key aides was one Álvaro Antadillas, who owned a chain of private kidney dialysis clinics. So the public system did not invest in dialysis and referred patients to his private clinics. And for the US-funded health care plan for the Panamanian PanCanal employees from before the Carter-Torrijos Treaties, Antadillas had a monopoly and jacked the prices WAY up. A prominent nephrologist came to me about it with a story under a pseudonym. I got confirmation from a private hospital owner who told me that none of the importers would sell anyone any dialysis equipment for fear of being put out of business by the government. So I made an exception and published that story under that pseudonym. I got a call from Antadillas, who demanded that I identify the author. I told him that betrayal might be a fun sport in his political circle but that ain't me. I got slapped with papers charging me with criminal defamation. I told Antadillas that he could buy all the judges and prosecutors and stomp me down whatever the facts, but that I would first do my best to make a public stink on the court record about what he was doing in hopes that other media would cover it, and that he could then get his conviction -- and SEE how long his contract with a US-funded health insurance plan lasted once I went to jail -- because I would not be buying my way out with a fine. He dropped the prosecution when he figured out that I meant it, that I did not intend to be ruined with lawyer bills by his nuisance charge but would fight him in a most unorthodox and harmful to him way. 4. My nephew, a banged-up´and lacerated knee from jumping in the wrong spot off of a waterfall: x-rays, tetanus shot, stitches, bandages, medications fo rh pain and swelling and all? $13. 5. When I had a serious case of gout, so x-rays, bloodwork and all that, then medication (allopurinol)? $23. 6. When I had dengue, with a bit of bleeding? All the tests and exams, then palliative medications? $18. 7. I had a check-up and the doctor told me that I should have a colonoscopy as part of it. It cost me $25 at Santo Tomas Hospital. Had I been part of the Seguro Social system, all of the services I described would have been free. Had I been indigent, they would have been free regardless of whatever ties or lack of ties with that part of the public health care system. Such is the socialized medicine that the small part of corporate America that profits from the current system fears....


The editor of The Panama News is a Panagringo journalist - BS Eastern Michigan - JD Detroit College of Law