The Charleston Gazette
August 28, 2007
The pursuit of profit has always been the principal motivating driver that sustains the American economy. Few would argue this because it strives to provide an economic lifestyle essential to America’s work force, small businesses and large corporations and the overall viability of local, state and federal government. However, the delivery of basic health care to all Americans should be removed from the “profit equation” at least as we relate it to the corporate bottom line.
Implementing a single-payer (universal) health-care system for all Americans is long overdue. It is a basic right of citizenship. Any attempt to hasten the dialogue in this regard has invoked the instant wrath of the universal health-care naysayers. Over the years, we have stood idly by and allowed the status quo barriers to become much more formidable than need be. The time is now to attack the real and imaginary barriers with fresh innovative thought as to how best achieve a viable single-payer system.
Rather than bow to naysayer resistance, it’s time for a full-court press. The longer we hesitate, the longer we continue to hesitate. To paraphrase Hedda Haning’s remarks in an Aug. 12 Sunday Gazette-Mail commentary, we as Americans are no less capable of developing a national health-care plan than the many other industrialized nations around the world who have already done so with a high degree of success.
A single-payer system would naturally be a quantum change in the way our health care is delivered, but not an impossible change. How would it work? How would it be managed? How do we bring the key parties to the table? How would it be funded? It would require a dramatic shift in the paradigm of health-care delivery and payment. The precedent has been established with the likes of Canada, France and Great Britain among others. Certainly we can find a way to model that which has performed well for those countries in their respective systems and improve upon those aspects which have not.
Opposition forces have thus far relied on rhetorical “scare tactics” to protect the status quo. The primary risk to the opposition would be any action taken that may result in a reduction of profit. For many of us who have experienced the denial of medical service or medication, or the unreasonable delay in providing timely medical decisions, or at the very least, health-care coverage that is less than satisfactory, do you really believe that our well-being is of paramount concern to those overseeing the full spectrum of insured services? How many of us (having any form of paid medical coverage today) can honestly say that we’re confident that our insurance company or third-party provider has our health-care interest at heart? Premiums, co-payments and deductibles continue to increase each year yet we must still fight for our medical needs. Unfortunately for many, waging these battles becomes far too exhausting or they’re simply not equipped to challenge the status quo.
Health-care decisions must be made solely by health-care professionals, pure and simple. Each and every insurance company and third party provider has a phalanx of front-line clerical personnel programmed with a checklist of “reasons” why your claim is to be denied or that the surgery ordered by your doctor is unnecessary or that medication “A” prescribed by your doctor is not right for you and that you should be using medication “B.” The fox has been in charge of the henhouse far too long.
We should not let allow inertia to be our albatross. A well-thought-out single-payer health-care system is well within our ability to define and implement. It won’t be an easy challenge; nor should it be. Yes, the barriers are formidable but not insurmountable. We deserve much better as a nation. As we approach the 2008 congressional and presidential election, we need to closely scrutinize the proposed health-care position put forth by each candidate and allow that to be a critical factor in guiding our voting decision. We must be persistent and vocal. Our voice will be heard at the ballot box.
There is a quote from the late Robert Kennedy that is perhaps befitting our challenge: “There are those who look at things the way they are and ask why … I dream of things that never were and ask why not?”
Gossard, of Charleston, is a retired supply chain manager from Union Carbide and Dow Chemical.