Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Why Not Single Payer?

On my way home last night I was listening to Amy Goodman on DemocracyNow! (Thank Odin for WETS). She was interviewing a couple of doctors who were fed up with the American Medical Association and critical of President Obama for slamming the brakes on single payer health insurance. Check the transcript.
Dr. Chris McCoy: It’s the fact that the AMA’s sole focus in the last ten years on Capitol Hill has always been, you know, the SGR and physician reimbursement, to the point where they—when they meet with members of Congress, that’s all they ever talk about. They aren’t talking about public health issues, and they aren’t talking about what we need to do for patients. It’s, you know, what can we do for getting providers paid enough...
It is time for these physicians to be ashamed. Our healthcare system is not working.
Dr. Quentin Young: America’s difficulties, indeed the crisis in healthcare, is due to one big thing: the multi-payer and private insurance companies. Everybody knows that. Obama knows that. He said he was for single payer not that many years ago, and if he was starting from scratch, was the way he put it, he would go with it. Well, he is starting from scratch, and the failure to grasp the nettle and really give America the kind of healthcare reform system it deserves is very painful and very dangerous.
Not all physicians are against single payer insurance.
Dr. Quentin Young: Mr. Obama would be wisest to challenge the American people to support single payer, which, I might point out, America’s doctors, in a poll in the University of Indiana last year, April, showed 60 percent of our doctors now support a tax system that provides for healthcare. Doctors have learned there’s something worse than government; it’s called corporations. And we must trade on that insight. And the American public wants it. So, why is there this hesitancy and this currying favor with the reactionaries who talk about socialized medicine? It’s nonsense. It’s American medicine, and it can only grow and serve the people if we have a single-payer system.
Single payer is NOT government provided health care. It is government provided health insurance, like Medicare.

Amy Goodman: We have to break. And when you say, Dr. Quentin Young, single payer, you mean government paying for healthcare, not providing the healthcare.

Dr. Quentin Young: That’s very important. A private system of delivery, such as we have, hospitals and doctors, and primarily in the private sector, but a government-sponsored insurance plan, which works so marvelously in Medicare. And we have to just make it universal, and we’ll get out of this morass.
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  1. In other countries like Japan who does capitalism more efficiently than Americans, healthcare is not a business, it is a service. Until we reverse the fundamental philosophy of what healthcare means, we will be beholden to the whims of grossly unregulated insurance mega-conglomerates that work with one another to maximize profit and minimize risk. "Risk" to them is defined by people.

    It's BS and because so many politicians are making money off of it, they refuse to change it. We don't vote people into office anymore, companies do.

  2. **healthcare is not a business, it is a service.**


  3. A monopoly on the payer of health insurance? I thought monopolies were bad.

  4. "Mr. Obama would be wisest to challenge the American people to support single payer [healthcare]".

    Yes. Exactly. Instead of giving in to what people think they want, help them understand what they need.

    As I said elsewhere, the insurance industry should not be set up as a profit making industry. No agency that deals with the lives of people should be considered an "industry".

  5. Paul - "Monopoly" is not the best word to use. Monopolies generally prevent competition in order to drive up and protect profits for an individual or company. We need to eliminate profit from the model.

  6. Snad,

    Thanks for the note. Eliminating profit by government decree will, in my opinion, reduce supply and increase cost even worse than a market monopoly. From my Econ 101 class, a natural monopoly is still subject to the supply-demand curve. A natural monopoly that raises prices too high because it then would allow competition and no longer be a monopoly.

    A government monopoly can guarantee no profit for the government but it can increase costs and reduce supply without any natural correction like the market supplies.

    In my view, a government monopoly is worse than a natural monopoly.

    Note that when people try to take out the personal incentive (profit) you can end up with disaster. One great article on this about the pilgrims and how working with no profit incentive endangered the whole colony!

    The question of health-care is important. If people are able to get the care they need it can be life-saving. If they don't people will die! So understanding the problem and how proposed solutions will work is literally a matter of life-and-death.

  7. If a single payer system would increase costs simply beacuse it would be a monopoly, why has this NOT happened in other countries which in so many cases get adequate to excellent health care for far less money than it costs us here in the USA?

    love, john + + "The spirit of liberty is the spirit of not being too sure you are right.” – Judge Learned Hand

  8. John,

    Great question. One aspect is rationing. See the article:'NHS+should+not+treat+those+with+unhealthy+lifestyles'+say+Tories/
    about how the UK rations healthcare. Note that STDs are considered a product of unhealthy lifestyles as the proposal includes sex-health teachers in schools. Note also that the civil liberty groups are the ones opposing this.

    This is not a sufficient answer to your question, though.