First, we must acknowledge that we do not have a healthcare system, we have an industry, with the profit motive making basic care unavailable to many citizens.
I support a single-payer Medicare-like system for all. Universal health care is a basic human right.
We have no hope of resolving any of the many health care challenges facing Americans until we understand that in the United States health care is an industry.
This distinction is critical – just ask anyone seeking quality time with their physician, looking for an insurance company that won’t demand that their doctor discharge them from a hospital earlier than medically appropriate, and playing the pharmacy lottery forced upon them by the pharmaceutical companies.
The difficulty in accessing health care is apparent to anyone who has had need of it. We believe that health care is a fundamental human right, embedded in the “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” phrase of the United States Declaration of Independence. Hence, we support universal health insurance with a single-payer system.
Some have argued that the United States has the best health care in the world. It may be true that outstanding providers of health care can be found in the U.S. But it is certainly not true that we have the best health care system in the world.
The absence of any real system can be seen in the lack of any structured plan for systematic care of the population.
It is evident in the nation’s depressing health statistics, where, e.g., the life expectancy for adult males has actually declined in recent years, the only advanced country in which that happened, reversing what had been a steady advance in life expectancy over the past century.
Or, perhaps more importantly, where the rate of childbirth mortality is so high that the U.S. ranks 45th in the world in that category. Mothers in the U.S. are twice as likely to die in childbirth as are mothers in Canada.
Currently, far too much time, effort and money is expended on cost shifting – playing games with peoples’ lives in order to minimize expenditures from each competing source, whether that be the individual, one or more private, for-profit, insurance or pharmaceutical companies, or local, state or federal governments.
Cities and counties bear much of the expense of indigent care; state budgets are severely impacted by costs of health care, and the federal budget allocates a great deal of money to health care.
With all that money spent, the lack of timely and appropriate health care sends many people to the emergency room, with a lowered likelihood of good outcomes (compared to early, preventative care), utilizing the most expensive entry point into health care.
Additionally, the lack of universal prenatal care results in unconscionable and unnecessary outcomes such as a higher percentage of premature births and prolonged stays in astronomically expensive neonatal intensive care units.
Our current approach to health care delivery makes no sense fiscally, and is morally bankrupt. It is absurd for a country such as ours claiming to be an advanced civilization to exhibit so little care for our fellow citizens. And it is even more disturbing that those claiming religious affiliation and allegiance permit such a situation to persist in conflict with Matthew 25: 35-40.
It has been our experience, as professionals in health care and with spouses who have devoted their lives to providing loving, exceptional care, that almost all caregivers are motivated by a desire to help people.
For the sake of the people needing such care, it is incumbent upon political leaders to quit the posturing, acknowledge that our current industrial approach to health care delivery is inadequate, and replace it with universal, single-payer coverage.
We already know how to do it. It’s called Medicare. And, it is what the majority of Americans want.
Art Sherwood is running for NC Senate to address the critical issues of public education, health care, and employment.