Portland Press Herald
July 8, 2001
by Allan Drury
An interview with Howard R. Buckley, Mercy Hospital administrator:
Q: How has your thinking evolved over time on the single-payer issue?
A: I have watched the number of uninsured in Maine grow to 150,000 or so. I have felt the atmosphere and environment of distrust grow. I am seeing the rise in concern about health-care costs from small businesses. And the people that we serve no longer trust payers or providers.
People are drawn to work in health care because of its mission – helping patients and families. They become discouraged by the bureaucracy that we have built around that fundamental provider-patient interaction. And finally, I feel that health care isn’t a privilege, but a right that belongs equally to everyone. In the end, only a single-payer system will truly change the system for the better.
Q: Maine lawmakers have gotten high marks for extending access to low-income residents, but they haven’t done much to contain costs for most people with insurance. Is there anything the state can do about insurance costs for the middle class?
A: I don’t believe that anyone can contain costs unless here is a unified delivery system, providing the same health-care program to everyone and paid for by a single payer. If you can’t control the system, you can’t control the cost.