Monday, July 21, 2008

Dr. Bill Roy

I have permission from the good Dr. to post Dr. Roy's articles. I will post these on a weekly basis. Archives can be found in our local paper. Bill's column follows .. you're welcome Bil.

Column for week of July 2-9 2008//692 words//from Bill Roy

Father Time is doing what the Germans, Japanese and their allies could not do, taking the lives of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II. The Department of Veteran Affairs estimates only 2,5 million are living, and others estimate WW II vets are dying at the rate of 1,000 a day.

Whenever I see the obituary of a male over 80, I look to see if he served. Almost without exception, he has. Many served twice, being recalled for the Korean War that began less than five years after Japan surrendered on August 14, 1945. And, some served only in the Korean War, "the forgotten war," which was just as deadly and just as miserable, and had less national support than WW II, setting pattern for future wars.

World War II was gung ho. It was everyone’s war. How could it be anything less with the 16 million in uniform coming forward from a nation of 120 million. Which has always led me to wonder why we, a nation of 304 million, have been able to muster at tops 160,000 soldiers and Marines in Iraq, which our president tells us is as important as WW II?

The Sunday, June 29th, Topeka Capital Journal carried the obituaries of eleven men, ages 81-93. Ten had served, nine likely in combat, and the 11th may have served; his obituary was a very brief death notice.

What was totally remarkable was three had served as prisoners of war. Only 130,000 Americans--less than one in 120, were prisoners of war. And nearly 63 years after that war, three former POWs died in and around Topeka, an amazing coincidence. The roll of honor.

Hardie M. Schweigen, Sr., 90, Hoyt, served in the U.S. Army "in North Africa and Italy, and was captured and held as a prisoner of war for 29 months."

Carl E. Moore, 84, Overbrook, "served in the United States Army Air Corps as a turret gunner and radioman on a B-24 during WW II. He and his crew were shot down over Austria, and he was held as a Prisoner of War for over 14 months."

Robert Donald Fox, 84, died at Colmery-O’Neil Veteran Nursing Home Unit. A native Nebraskan, he "served as a gunner and flight engineer on a B-24 Bomber during WW II…on his 20th mission his plane was shot down; he was wounded and taken prisoner by the Germans. He later escaped …with the aid of the French Underground and was returned to the American sector." Equally remarkably, six of the other seven served in war zones. Martin Dean Stover, 81, was the youngest memorialized. He was a Marine "stationed near Okinawa," the only Marine among the ten.

Ivan H. Lolley, 83, "served as a 1st Class Bostwain’s Mate, " and "was a part of the Tarawa to Japan Theatre." A short description of a long journey.

James F. Davidson was also 83 at death. He was 20 when Japan surrendered, and may or may not have used the Japanese he learned at the Navy’s Oriental Language School. But this war-time experience launched him on a distinguished academic career.

Jack Lindley Sweeney, 86, "served as a P-47 fighter pilot…in the Pacific Theatre, and in Korea." He remained in the reserves--as did many who were recalled for Korea--and retired as a U. S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and decorated intelligence officer.

Austin Victor Spencer, 93, also had extended service. He served in the Army in WWII, and in Korea, and only retired in 1965, apparently after 20 years service..

Clarence W. Risebig, a longtime hospital accountant and auditor, died at 86. He served " in the field artillery of the 95th Division, which liberated Metz, France…a fact Clarence was very proud of."

Marvin S. Chilcoat, 90, Nemaha County native, "served in the U.S. Army from 1944-1946...and was stationed in the South Pacific and the Southern Philippines, where he earned the Bronze Star," and a passel of other medals and ribbons. Like so many others, he was active in veteran organizations.

These men missed this Fourth. But they made it possible for the rest of us to celebrate our nation’s liberty.

Dr. Roy may be reached at


Blogger Myron & Sally Holter said...

Column for week of August 8-15 08//679 words//from Bill Roy

Regardless of what you have been led to believe, there is a straight-forward way to built an affordable, universal, uniquely American health care system from the multiple parts and diverse interests that make up today’s health care jumble--which is inadequate, wasteful and producing unsustainable cost increases.

The new system will work because each state will administer its own health care system under minimum requirements set forth by the federal government, which also will share the burden of financing the system.

Before I reveal this road to reform, permit me a caveat based on a 1950’s Tom Lehrer song:
"Plagiarize, why do you think the good lord gave you eyes?" Which is a way of saying the principles recommended here are lifted directly from Canadian health acts of 1957 and 1962.

Yes, yes, yes, I know no American with eyes to see and ears to hear wants a Canadian health care system. Its horrors, real or imagined, have been broadcast by frightened American special interests for decades and have penetrated most Americans like the Kansas sun on a July afternoon.

But then, I am not recommending the Canadian health care system for us. I am recommending five basic principles that have worked for them--who began vaguely where we are--and can provide us with a health care far superior to any other in the world today because they will help us use efficiently the huge investment we are making and the exceptional resources we have.

How can we have an American system, not a Canadian system, if we adopt their principles? Very simply.

It’s not 1962, and we are not Canada. Nearly everything is different, but most spectacularly the amount of money available for health care in this country today versus Canada, 1962, or anywhere in the world in 2008 or 2009.

As late as 1970, we were spending $70 billion, 7% of our gross national product was spent for medical care; today we spend $2.2 trillion, nearly 16% of our GNP.

With this spending we have made great advances in biomedical science and quality medical care, and systems, not implemented, for efficiently running a health care system that can serve everyone. For the most part and most places, we have an over-built physical plant in place.

What we don’t have are enough health professionals, a problem temporarily and partly ameliorated by importing people from other nations that need them more than we do. This problem must be addressed soon regardless the non-system or system we have.

Anyway you score it, the medical care system we will be reforming today is light-years different than that anyone had 40-50 years ago. Which makes it critical, we adopt some good sense principles will make it work for everyone without going broke.

In a state-administered system, there will be a best system and a 50th-best system. But its excellence or shortcomings will begin and end at the state capitol, not Washington D.C.. So if you are one of those crazy liberals who thinks Washington has to run everything, like Medicare Part D, forget it.

To get going, the federal government puts forth five requirements a state must meet to receive federal money to help run its unique medical system--something states have been bursting to do for years.

First, the state plan must be administered on a non-profit basis by a public authority (bingo, a savings of $300 billion). In our state, Kansas Blue Cross Blue Shield could easily be modified to do this. Private insurers may cover non-insured individuals, or non-insured services.

Two, the plan must be comprehensive. The services covered will take some defining, and would change with experience and as medical science changes.

Three, the care must be universal, that is cover all legal residents not otherwise insured by other legislation, such as the Veterans Health Care System.

Four, the insurance must be portable; easy enough.

Five, people must have access to defined services. This requires good planning, especially in large, rural states like Kansas. Demand also insures reasonable compensation for providers.

Please notice services will be provided privately; choice is preserved.

Dr. Roy may be reached at

Column for week of July 30-August 5 2008//681 words//from Bill Roy

The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics will present a program entitled "Reforming the U.S. Health Care System: Supporting the Role of Individuals." The by invitation only event runs from 12:30 to 5:00pm Monday the 4th, and Senator Dole will preside over a series of panels consisting of mostly Midwestern academics, foundation gurus, and health administrators.

This event is sponsored by The Bipartisan Policy Center founded last year and headlining four former U.S. Senate Majority leaders, Republicans Dole and Howard Baker, and Democrats George Mitchell and Tom Daschle. Their salutary goal is to find bipartisan acceptable solutions for problems like energy, environment and health care. And then pass them on to their old colleagues for implementation.

Just as windy Topeka was the first site of oilman T. Boone Pickens’ first public meeting pitching his solutions for America held-hostage by foreign oil, health-conscious Lawrence will be the site of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s first forum on health care.

The role of individual responsibility in protecting one’s own health is not controversial. How to get people to lose weight, exercise, have periodic medical checkups and follow healthy life styles is controversial. It involves questions like how much public money to spend, and the roles reimbursed health care providers should play in educating and supporting individuals.

Every day we see people who are morbidly overweight, and often smoking. We wince at their suffering, projected short life spans and the load they are placing on the health care system. Change such destructive behavior, and America’s health statistics, which aren’t very good, will become much better.

To the extent "the role of supporting individuals" means helping them establish healthy living, the conference can and should have plenty to say.

To the extent "supporting the role of individuals" means helping people prudently shop health insurance and the health care system, agreement is far less likely. Making prudent purchases in our complicated health care milieu is difficult at best and impossible at worst.

To be a bit picky, he program is in part misleading because our country does not have a single health care system to reform. We have many health care systems, the sum of which leaves out 47 million Americans, nearly one in six.

It is a combination of private and public financing and private and public services. Nearly 60% of the cost of American medical care is paid for by government, an amount similar in both proportion and total costs to national systems that guarantee financial access to services for all residents.

We have our own large system of socialized medicine, the bogey man of those who oppose universal coverage.

The federal government pays for a surprisingly well-liked Veterans Health Care System that covers 8 million well-deserved veterans at the costs approaching $40 billion annually. It is 100% socialized medicine; the facilities are owned by the government, and employees are government employees.

Two other government-financed programs cover many of the nation’s neediest citizens. But services are privately provided.

Medicare is a program for the elderly and disabled that has been bastardized by recent Republican congresses, but is still effective and presently irreplaceable. It covers 44 million people at a cost of $374 billion, 13 percent of the federal budget in 2006.

Medicaid is a federal-state financed and state-administered program for the poor and selected children (SCHIP). It has 60 million beneficiaries and costs $300 billion. The government also provides health care for members of the armed services, their dependents, and defined others.

The biggest piece of the entire bizarre system is employment-based health insurance that covers 160 million working people, their families and some retirees. Nearly 10 million individuals and families buy private health insurance, or pay out of pocket.

So nothing is simple. How you gain financial access to health care is decided by your employment, age, health status, financial status, military service, prudence and luck of the draw--all of which change from time to time.

The multiple systems cost $2.2 trillion, one-sixth of the gross national project, and $7000 per person. Costs increase at about twice the growth in the GNP each year.

Dr. Roy may be reached at

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August 6, 2008 at 10:36 AM  

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