Sunday, June 07, 2009

Another Voice On Health Care

To follow up on Ruth's last post, lots of people are beginning to voice their support for a universal, government run health care system. The Boston Globe printed an op-ed piece by Stephen J. Bergman on why such a system is necessary and a good thing for doctors as well as patients.

He notes that health insurers have gamed the system in all sorts of ways, including pitting doctors against doctors, especially specialists against family care primary doctors. Unfortunately, many doctors, including primary care doctors, don't understand that they don't have to buy into the game the for-profit insurers are playing, with the endless paper work, the fee-cutting disputes, the refusal to authorize tests and referrals to specialists. A single payer, government run system like Medicare and the Veterans Administration works just fine for doctors who really want to spend more than eight minutes with each patient.

The issue isn't that primary-care doctors get paid less than cardiac surgeons, but that the system of healthcare rests on insurance companies and their CEOs making huge profits. No amount of cost-cutting can save enough money to support a for-profit system. The only solution is a universal, government-run healthcare system. Surveys suggest that a majority of Americans and doctors desire this. Any plan that puts private insurance in anything other than an optional, "concierge" system for the rich is just whistling past the graveyard of American healthcare.

The administrative cost for a private, for-profit health insurance system is approximately 33 percent ($300 billion annually); the administrative cost for the two government-run health systems, the Veterans Administration and Medicare, is about 3 percent. The level of satisfaction with these two nonprofit systems is high; that of for-profit is low.

Why in the world should healthcare be for profit?

Why indeed?

Stephen J. Bergman brings an important voice to the debate because of what he does: he's a doctor, one who practices under the odious system currently in place. If he's correct, and I have no reason to believe he isn't, then doctors also would welcome the kind of radical change a single-payer government run system would bring. However, with that change has to come a change in the cost of educating our doctors, many of whom enter their first year of practice with over $200,000 in education debt. Instead of sending trillions to the Pentagon for weaponry that even the military doesn't want we should consider sending billions to the National Institute for Health to help offset the costs of educating our health care workers.

Dr. Bergman concludes his essay with a rather shocking (but long overdue) warning:

How to get this done? The insurance industry is a powerful and ruthless lobby. Congress has an exquisite susceptibility to fear - in this case - "socialized medicine," which we already have in the VA and Medicare. If all else fails, we may have to do what workers usually do to get bosses to give: organize doctors and other health care workers and plan a nationwide strike.


Right on, to use the parlance of my youth. Right on!

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Anonymous jacksmith said...


Howard Dean and the Democrats are correct.

"a" (Toothy, Robust, Affordable, Immediate, Triggerless, Medicare-Like ) "public health insurance option" (For All Who Want It) "is more important than bipartisanship, and Democrats should pass health-care legislation that includes the option with 51 votes if necessary."

"Democrats should have "no intention" of working with Republicans if it's not the strongest possible legislation that could be passed with a simple majority." (Howard Dean)

CONTACT CONGRESS and your representatives Now! And tell them you demand ALL of the minimum requirements above. This is the time for maximal, toothy, sustained pressure on Congress to get this done. Be creative. But be relentless.

This is what WE THE PEOPLE gave the Democrats all that power to do for ALL of us.

In medicine and healthcare there is only one acceptable standard. And that standard is the HIGHEST level of EXCELLENCE! you can provide for everyone. Nothing less is acceptable for a precious human life.

And the White House is right. "Good health care reform is essentially good economic policy." (Christina Romer)

BUT HEAR ME WELL! Just as I warned you before 911. Before the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And before the US and Global economic crisis.

I must tell you now that healthcare reform is now a critical matter of NATIONAL SECURITY. A-H1N1 (Swine Flu) was yet another loud WAKE-UP! call. And there is MUCH! worse lurking, and poised to strike at any moment. Working against the clock, many of us have known this for a long time now. And this is why we have been pushing so hard for so long without fully saying why. But Congress and the American people are literally running out of time.

I'll tell you more later. But get healthcare reform done NOW!.


God Bless All Of You

jacksmith -- WORKING CLASS

10:20 PM  

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