At the annual meeting of the Kentucky Medical Association in Louisville last September, during a discussion of a resolution related to providing health care for the uninsured, one of our elected delegates attempted to read a brief comment to the rest of the delegation. Surprisingly to me, he was ruled out of order by the leadership and not permitted to finish. I thought what he was saying was rational and deserved to be heard. I asked him if I could place his comments on this website. I include them just below.
The usual objections made by organized medicine to anything sounding remotely like single-payer health care is that it represents "socialism." The paranoia is such that the subject is hardly ever broached, and it allows an easy way to avoid difficult considerations about how to cure the illness of our own houses. Such Medical McCarthyism may have had its roots in that era, but it reached a high-point at the time of the introduction of Medicare. (To my understanding, the introduction of Medicare coincided with a soaring of physician incomes and it has been very good to hospitals, particularly teaching hospitals.) In my opinion the discussion we physicians should be having is, "What is best for people who are ill?" If physicians keep the interests of their patients foremost, which is the essence of what it means to be in a profession, then we will have the best constituency in the world to support what we do.
Please feel free to comment in our Health Policy Blog.
Peter Hasselbacher, MD
Jan 30, 2009
Comments on KMA Resolution: “Principles for Reducing the Uninsured.”
by Ewell G. Scott, MD
Fellow physicians, thank you for allowing me to make a few comments about health care reform. In the next two years our country will have a window of opportunity to rectify a terrible social tragedy in our nation. We physicians have a choice. We can continue the status quo by supporting private health insurance companies and pluralism, or we can call for an efficient, cost effective and affordable system of single payer national health insurance. Market reforms, transparency and pluralism will not accomplish our stated goals of health insurance for all. Allow me to read to you the definition of pluralism as defined by Webster: “A state of society in which different groups (as ethnic or social) maintain their traditional cultures or special interest within the confines of a common civilization.” If we continue with the strategy of incremental change and pluralism we really mean we want the status quo.
As you are aware our current system is collapsing leading to 22 thousand unnecessary deaths annually and one million bankruptcies with mounting bad debt and charity care leading to severe financial stress in our practices and hospitals. The hospital in which I practice has experienced a doubling of bad debt and charity care in the last 4 years, from 12 million to 25 million dollars during this last fiscal year.
Gentlemen and ladies, sickness does not discriminate and we should make the collective decision that health care will not discriminate either.
We as physicians should reassert ourselves as advocates for our patients and join the growing chorus of groups supporting a single payer concept. A single payer plan is more equitable, more efficient and more effective than any other system. Recent polling indicates a majority of physicians and a huge majority of our patients support such a system. Additionally the American College of Physicians in a recent white paper recommended that single payer be strongly considered as the ultimate solution. More recently the National Conference of Mayors, the Presbyterian Church USA, the City of Louisville, Morehead and the KY State House of Representatives have all endorsed “Medicare for All”
Let us be the leaders in the change sure to come so that thinking and listening to our patients is properly rewarded.
There is a Chapter of "Physicians for a National Health Program" in Kentucky. [Webmaster]