By Paul Post
The Saratogian (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.)
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Who are you?
I’m Patricia Reed of Saratoga Springs, a retired nurse practitioner. A nurse practitioner does 85 percent of the things a doctor does — evaluate, diagnose, treat, prescribe medication and order diagnostics. Plus, I did a lot of education and counseling.
What’s your opinion about proposed health care legislation?
I think it should be defeated in its current form. I belong to a group called Single Payer New York. We promote the concept, “Medicare for all.” Under proposed legislation, only half the people without insurance or the underinsured would actually be covered. The rest wouldn’t. We want access. Health care should be for everyone. Also, health care quality should be improved, based on evidence-based medicine, and it should be “portable.” People shouldn’t have to change insurance providers when they change employers. Sometimes there are gaps and waiting periods. God forbid you have a serious illness during one of those times.
We also think health care should be paid for with progressive taxation such as income tax instead of a regressive tax like property tax. Medicare is successful. Let’s expand it to everyone. It would save $400 billion.
When did Single Payer New York organize?
In September 2008. We’re a statewide organization composed of a cross-section of people — doctors, nurses, clergy, labor, the public. The term single-payer describes the kind of financing system in which one entity — in this case the government — handles all billing and payment for health care services. Right now, there are thousands upon thousands of payers — HMOs, PPOs, bill collection agencies. The sheer volume of paperwork required by our current system means that administrative waste accounts for about 31 percent of the money spent on health care. The single-payer system would eliminate waste and direct more dollars to providing care.
Where have you worked?
I spent 12 years with the Veterans Administration in Albany. I did home care, and in 1999 I set up and managed a primary care office in Clifton Park. Before that, I was executive vice president for nursing services at Albany Medical Center Hospital, in charge of all nursing services. I had a $75 million budget. I also led a program to help nurses earn bachelor’s degrees through non-traditional learning, such as distance learning.
Why did you leave Albany Medical Center for the Veterans Administration?
I really love patient care. I had a master’s degree in nursing administration and education, so I went back to become a nurse practitioner. I specialized in gerontology, caring for older people. That’s why I went to the VA. I wanted to do home care.