By Chinh Le, M.D.
Corvallis (Ore.) Gazette-Times, Letters, May 10, 2020

Ms. Bailey used Italy’s COVID crisis as a reason to say “I don’t want the government taking over our health care system” (April 26).

May I point out that the countries that have best responded to the pandemic so far are Taiwan, South Korea, Ireland and Singapore, which all have government-run health care.

Such a system allows nations to better focus on public health and universal access to preventive and medical treatment, and to allocate resources when and where needed for the common good. There are many reasons for the tragic human losses in this pandemic, but please don’t blame the Italians for incompetence.

Here in the U.S., where we have the best concentration of scientists, innovative technology companies and the highest health care expenditures in the world, we failed miserably to prepare for, and still have a hard time reacting to, the crisis. The reasons are obvious: a fragmented, uncoordinated system built on social inequalities, driven mostly by profit motives; and a current leadership that puts Wall Street over public health.

Yes, politics and wealth over health. American exceptionalism at its worst.

During this pandemic, not a single person in Europe or parts of Asia where there is “government-run” health system lost their insurance, and the same applies to Medicare beneficiaries in this country. With millions of Americans suddenly unemployed, this should be a wakeup call that employer-based insurance is no health care security at all. There is no better time to rethink replacing private medical insurance with an equitable publicly funded health care system.