Letters to the Editor is a periodic Kaiser Health News feature. KHN welcomes all comments and will publish a selection. We edit for length and clarity and require full names.
Unsolicited Advice For Corporate Titans
I am a retired health care consultant who has been involved in health care financing and delivery since 1973. I read with keen interest how these three titans of Industry are going to increase quality and reduce costs simultaneously with technology and effective business systems (“Expert Advice For The Corporate Titans Taking On Health Care,” Jan. 31). Well, I wish them luck. First of all, quality health care is about 60 percent technology and 40 percent art (knowledge). Secondly, experience shows you can quantify the technology, but you can never quantify the art. If you make mistakes, people die. We cannot now allow computers to make life-and-death decisions on humans. Leave that to the professionals.
— Thomas J. Garvey, Merrick, N.Y.
We were disappointed KHN’s “Expert Advice” did not include input from advocates for a single-payer system. So, here is an open letter to the CEOs of Amazon, JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway.
Dear Messrs. Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Jamie Dimon:
We agree with you that health care is among the greatest issues facing society today. Your tremendous resources provide a unique opportunity to advocate for a health program to benefit all Americans: a universal, single-payer system.
Mr. Buffett describes our profit-based health system as a “tapeworm,” a parasite whose survival depends on its ability to drain nutrients from the host. How did our health care system reach that sorry state?
Our nation faces a catastrophic failure on two levels. First, the market has failed to deliver affordable health care to those who need it most. More importantly, our elected officials have failed to enact the reforms that could remedy health care’s woes because they are unwilling to offend big donors from the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. Instead, they’ve nibbled around the edges with incremental reforms like the Affordable Care Act. The ACA not only failed to kill the tapeworm of profit-based health care, it fattened it up with government subsidies, fueling the twin drivers of health costs — profits and administrative bloat.
Adding one more well-intentioned layer to our labyrinthine health care financing arrangements cannot fix them. We must move to one simple, nonprofit financing system, known as single-payer or “Medicare for all.” Mr. Buffett recently said that as a nation “we can afford to do it.” Medicare for all would bring desperately needed financial stability to the lives of everyday Americans, to every unit of government, and to businesses large and small.
We urge you to meet with policy experts who have studied this problem for decades, as well as the health care professionals operating at the front lines. Physicians for a National Health Program is a 22,000-member nonprofit research and education organization that advocates for single-payer health care. Our “Physicians’ Proposal for Single-Payer Health Care Reform” is a research-based plan for expanding health coverage to all Americans while eliminating the waste and profiteering of private insurance, and the inefficiencies they inflict on doctors and hospitals.
— Carol Paris, M.D., president of Physicians for a National Health Program, Chicago
Steering Readers Wrong?
Thank you for your articles and education for our senior population. But your article “No Car, No Care? Medicaid Transportation At Risk In Some States” (Jan. 30) makes it sound as if transportation fraud is rampant. My concern is that people read stories like this, and then make up their minds that because there is too much fraud we should eliminate the benefit. Someone needs to pressure Medicaid and Medicare to explain why they are not scrutinizing claims or bumping the names up to the Social Security Death Index. If they did that, they could catch the cases in which dead people’s identities were being used.
— Linda Chavez, Claremont, Calif.
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