There are vampires among us. They prey on those who are mentally or physically ill, on the aged, the infirm and handicapped members of our society. They grow fat and healthy from the misfortunes of others. Once they waited for their victims to seek them out, for the help they claimed to offer; now they aggressively encourage people to fall into their clutches through television advertisements and other mass media methods. Newspapers, magazines, TV stations are happy to lend assistance to these modern-day Draculas, for they pay their helpers well—with the blood money they have extracted from honest, hardworking Americans like you and me.
I am talking about the people who run the so-called health care business in general, and about one man in particular—Bill “the Vampire” Frist. He can say his stock in HCA—the bloodsucking demon that actually does his dirty work—is in a blind trust, but he has devoted plenty of time and energy during his senate career to legislation that benefits the company his father and brother started—and that recently paid the largest fraud settlement in history, 1.7 BILLION dollars, for bilking the government, aka you and me, the taxpayers– through medicare overcharges. Due to the intervention of the Bush Whitewash, I mean White House, no one was indicted for this crime. Bill Frist’s brother and father who as directors were certainly liable, are not Martha Stewart, if you know what I mean.
Bill the Vampire is a prime example of what’s wrong with America’s so-called healthcare system. There are millionaires in the health care business because honest, hardworking Americans like you and me have been overcharged for health care. There is no reason for Bill the Vampire Frist—or Phil the Vampire Bredesen—for that matter, to be as obscenely rich as they are. It’s extortion, pure and simple. You need healthcare, they have a monopoly, you’re gonna pay what they tell you—or else you can suffer and die.. Your house, your land, your retirement savings, your childrens’ inheritance? Too bad! Fork it over—Bill the vampire is hungry for your blood.
I just about gag when I consider how many people have accepted Bill the Vampire as OK because he was clever enough to get so obscenely rich. “Look at the nice art museum he gave us, “ they say. I say he built it with money he stole from sick people in Tennessee. And eight bucks a head to get in? Some gift!
I am dismayed that there are enough fools in this state to elect Bill the vampire to two terms in the United States Senate. He and his vampire brother and father (whom Bill the vampire himself has likened to don Corleone) should have been stripped of their wealth and put to work doing something real—like maybe helping out Mother Teresa’s clinic in Calcutta. Bill’s brother Tom is probably the second richest man in America, with a personal fortune estimated by Forbes Magazine at two BILLION dollars. That would fix Tenncare!
The whole idea of for-profit healthcare is obscene. Healthcare needs to be non-profit, and oriented towards maintaining wellness rather than pill-peddling. This is a personal issue for me. I has a co-worker, a kind, gentle, conscientious man, who put off going to see a doctor—he had no health insurance, and most of these things clear up on their own,.right? His didn’t. He died from a curable infection, racking up tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in debts for his family in the process, because the so-called health food supermarket we worked for and the corporate culture it’s just another part of were both too cheap to give him access to medical care and time off to go see a doctor and then rest and recover.
It’s obscene that medical care is so expensive that people don’t seek it because of cost concerns. It’s obscene that the for-profit system is oriented towards peddling more and more pills and treatments to more and more people, when the right thing to do is to work to create general wellness through diet and lifestyle, but hey, there’s no money in that, nothing to patent or franchise. Bill the Vampire is going to do everything in his power to prevent that from happening. And don’t look to him to ask the federal government to bail out Tenncare, either. The for-profit medical system doesn’t care if there are people who can’t afford it—it’s doing quite well off those who can, thank you.
But his conscience is uneasy—that’s why he’s building a bunker into the basement of his new house. “Just what does he think is going to happen?” wondered the neighbor of his who told me about what she had seen at the construction site. Hey, this is a guy who pretended to adopt cats from animal shelters, took them home and was nice to them for a night, then practiced surgery on them until they died. He says he regrets it—but talk is cheap.
Now, I bear Bill the Vampire no personal ill will. I wish him no harm. I hope he sees the error of his ways, the gravity of his sins. I hope Bill the vampire repents and spends many years doing the right thing, promoting real public health, atoning for all the harm he’s done—after all, the Hippocratic oath enjoins physicians to “Frist—I mean First—do no harm.” He has done a lot of harm, from preventing people from suing Eli Lilly for putting poisonous Thimerosol in childhood vaccines and causing autism to preventing people from suing their HMOs (like his own HCA) for failure to provide adequate treatment. But I’m not holding my breath. I don’t know what the future holds—I have no crystal ball—but I do know there are vampires among us, and Bill Frist is one of them. Watch your neck.