The New York Times
August 7, 2001
by Jim Yardley
“El Paso – For the last year, an ambitious campaign by this border city focused on a critical if not particularly glamorous role: enrolling poor children for federal health benefits.”
Dr. John Guggedahl, an El Paso pediatrician: “The good news is that these children do have some access to the delivery system. The bad news is that we don’t have an adequate pediatric delivery system, because of chronic underfunding for so many years.”
Dr, Gordon McGee, chairman of the Border Health Institute: “A physician who takes nothing but CHIP and Medicaid can’t make money.”
Sara Rosenbaum, a professor of health law at George Washington University: “What El Paso is experiencing is a look into the future for all of us if we don’t come up with a national health policy.”
Comment: With the $1.1 trillion that we spend on health care each year, we have more than enough funds to provide high quality, comprehensive health care for everyone, while providing very comfortable incomes for the providers of care. What we do not have is an effective method of distributing those resources such that we can assure that the delivery system is funded fairly and waste of our resources is minimized.
Our current system is designed on a business ethic that mandates pulling resources out of the system, away from patient care. We clearly need to adopt a national health policy that rewards providers for maximizing the utilization of resources for patient care. There is absolutely no question that a publicly administered, universal insurance program would provide the requisite framework. Representatives of the various components of our health care system certainly would continue to advocate for larger allocations of the available funds. But at least this form of “allocation shifting” would be shifting resources between various patient care needs based on priorities, rather than our current fragmented system that shifts allocations unfairly, resulting in excess funding of some sectors, a clear waste of resources, and grossly deficient funding of others, especially those sectors attempting to meet the needs of the most vulnerable members of our society.
We have the resources. Let’s now adopt a rational national health policy to properly manage those resources.