Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Nationalized health care is politicized health care

Another reason why nationalized health care ain't such a great idea: Hamas arrests prominent doctors and Fatah sympathizers.

Hamas forces on Tuesday arrested two ousted officials of Gaza's largest hospital after they entered the building to talk to their former colleagues - the latest sign of Hamas' heavy-handed tactics against supporters of the rival Fatah movement.

Dr. Hazaa Abed, who was dismissed as director of Shifa Hospital last month, was detained along with Dr. Jomma al-Saqa, another ousted hospital official, colleagues and al-Saqa said.

"We were visiting Shifa to greet our colleagues for Ramadan," al-Saqa said in a telephone interview from a police station. "We were asked by the Hamas Executive Force to leave. When we asked why, they put us in a jeep and took us here. I don't know why."

Hamas officials were not immediately available for comment.

Hamas fired Abed and al-Saqa early last month. Both say the dismissals were because of their affiliation with Fatah.

Hamas seized control of Gaza in June after five days of battles against Fatah forces. Since then, Fatah officials say, Hamas has harassed, fired or detained many Fatah officials and installed Hamas sympathizers in key positions. A Hamas supporter was recently named the new director of Shifa.

Al-Saqa also was briefly arrested last month, leading Gaza doctors to launch a slowdown that crippled the coastal strip's medical system. Doctors suspended the slowdown on Monday out of respect for the current Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

While promising to bring law and order to Gaza, Hamas has shown little tolerance for dissent - violently breaking up protests by Fatah supporters in recent weeks.

For all of you who wish for a single-payer system in the USA, reflect on this: The "single payer" will be tempted to institute a political loyalty test for its employees -- you know, to weed out the ones that might disrupt efficient patient care.

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