Doctors Criticize Obama’s Health Plan
A group of over 15,000 U.S. physicians has called on President-elect Barack Obama and the new Congress to “do the right thing” and enact a single-payer national health insurance plan, a system of public health care financing frequently characterized as “an improved Medicare for all.”
“Our country is hailing the remarkable and historic victory of Barack Obama and the mandate for change the electorate has awarded him,” said Dr. Quentin Young, national coordinator of Physicians for a National Health Program.
“In large measure Sen. Obama’s victory and the victories of his allies in the House and Senate were propelled by mounting public worries about health care,” he said. “Yet the prescription offered during the campaign by the president-elect and most Democratic policy makers – a hybrid of private health insurance plans and government subsidies – will not resolve the problems of our dangerously dysfunctional system.
“We’ve seen such hybrids repeatedly fail in state-based experiments over the past 20 years in Oregon, Minnesota, Washington and several other states, including Massachusetts, whose second go-round at incremental reform is already faltering,” Young said.
“The only effective cure for our health care woes is to establish a single, publicly financed system, one that removes the inefficient, wasteful, for-profit private health insurance industry from the picture,” he said. “Single payer has a proven track record of success – Medicare being just one example – and is the only medically and fiscally responsible course of action to take.”
(Full Article at Political Affairs Magazine)
Despite what many of his supporters allege, and despite what the McCain campaign tried to depict, Obama has never supported single-payer healthcare—a system which a majority of American physicians and a majority of American citizens support. Instead, he supports costly, inefficient, and minuscule reforms to the current pay or die system. And it is indeed pay or die for the nearly 18,000 Americans who die each year from lack of healthcare and the countless more who go untreated or even undiagnosed.
For those who claim that there’s no support for this, I would direct them to HR 676 in the House (a proposal Obama, for all his rhetoric, has never introduced or even endorsed in the Senate), as well as the link in the previous paragraph showing a majority of American patients and physicians want a universal system.
For those who claim single-payer is expensive and/or less effective than the current for-profit system, it’s worth noting that the US currently pays twice as much as any other industrialized nation for healthcare (over $7,000 per capita) and that over one third of all healthcare dollars are spent in needless bureaucracy generated by the “efficient” private sector (source). In spite of all this the US still lags far behind countries like Canada and the UK (which have national care systems) when it comes to health issues such as life expectancy, equity and evenness of care, information technology, and overall quality of healthcare. And don’t even start with that long-discredited canard about “waiting times in Canada“. Recent studies show we have longer wait times, too.
For those who are still stuck in the McCarthy era and tremble at the very mention of “socialized” medicine, I would point out that single-payer is actually not “socialized” at all. “Single-payer” means public funding but private delievery. In other words, you get all the efficiency of the free market but the government picks up the tab (hence the label, “single-payer”). Really, it’s the best of both worlds.
For those who claim we can’t afford it, here’s a simple yet elegant solution: cut our defense spending (which currently is greater than the rest of the world combined) in half. Redirect that money into healthcare. It’s not like the obscene military budget is helping us “win” our multiple wars around the globe, and given whom our purported enemies are, there’s little use in boondoggles like the $2.5 billion Virginia class subarmine. Thanks to the mentality of the military-industrial complex, defense budget is designed to combat an enemy who has quite literally ceased to exist. We can re-direct this money toward the health of our own citizens without even needing to raise taxes.
Lastly, for those who are wondering what they can do about it, here are some basic steps you can take for healthcare equality:
* Talk to your Congressional Represenative(s). If they haven’t endorsed HR 676, let them know this is a serious issue.
* Join the November 5 Movement, which has taken the implementation of single-payer healthcare a primary concern.
~ by Kimchi on November 12, 2008.
Posted in Barack Obama, democracy, Fact Checking, Healthcare, Hope, politics, Progressives, Social Justice, working class
Tags: democracy, Healthcare, HR 676, Obama, politics, Single-Payer Healthcare, Social Justice