The Great Debate over how to fix America’s critically ill health care system is being microscopically examined throughout the media. As the world anxiously watches to see if the major “bailout” surgery by the U.S. government performed on Wall Street has saved that patient, health care has returned to the crucially important attention it demands. The question is, will the emergency care Americans need to produce a revolution in health care be enough to save this patient?
In the time since I originally wrote this post, the presidential candidates have revised their talking points about access to health care for Americans, but their overall plans have not changed. What has, is the public’s demand for a solution that will actually provide access to medical services while not threatening the financial survival for those who have health insurance, or the very lives of those who don’t.
One thing is certain. The status quo is not acceptable, and whichever candidate takes the White House better move quickly to implement what he has promised. That plan will determine the degree of medical access for years to come, virtually determine the level of health Americans will be able to achieve, and whether we will be able to compete economically and socially, through the 21st Century. Failure to take this action would be the equivalent of political suicide for the new president, his administration, and his party in Congress.
My hypothesis for what constitutes the most beneficial health care system is simple: Each healthy individual adds to a healthy community, which adds to a healthy society and nation, which provides for a higher quality of life and, therefore, allows those individuals to optimize their personal potential and creativity, reducing the cost of health care by hundreds of billions of dollars across generations and generating trillions in productivity.
If I can figure this out, not being a physician, one would think that the American Medical Association, combining the experience and insight of tens of thousands of doctors would have a plan for health care reform that would be medically astute, financially creative, in short, a work that reflects the highest possible standards for evidence-based patient care. The AMA calls their plan “Voice for the Uninsured.” Here’s the link: http://www.voicefortheuninsured.org/. Read what they state in the synopsis: In short, the AMA advocates a clear role for government in financing and regulating health insurance coverage, with health plans and health care services being provided through private markets, as they are currently. The AMA proposal gives patients more control over our nation’s health care dollars, while increasing affordability and choice. It reflects important social values and traditions, such as assistance based on need, freedom of choice, market innovation and fairness.
When I read the AMA’s full statement my immediate reaction was “we’ve been here before.” Look at John McCain’s proposal for his health care policy: John McCain Believes The Key To Health Care Reform Is To Restore Control To The Patients Themselves. We want a system of health care in which everyone can afford and acquire the treatment and preventative care they need. Health care should be available to all and not limited by where you work or how much you make. Families should be in charge of their health care dollars and have more control over care.
When you read the AMA’s proposed plan, “Voice for the Uninsured,” the similarities between it and John McCain’s is undeniable. McCain’s proposal (at least as presented on his website) is very short on details, but it’s no particular problem for him because the AMA’s plan provides that detail, and so, all he would have to do is bring in the AMA lobbyists and in one afternoon it would be a done deal ready to send to Congress.
But what astonishes me is that the AMA program, despite its provisions for wellness and prevention, still focuses first on the cost and not on a coherent set of health goals for all Americans. There is little evidence that the logic behind their plan even approaches or improves on my hypothesis. And why is that? My assessment is that this plan, like most others, is designed to impose as little change as possible on their slice of the industry. It appears that the AMA and its thousands of physicians propose a plan that forces change on everyone else while protecting themselves from the amount of change required to radically and effectively create a health care system that would truly move Americans toward specific goals for health. It doesn’t lend to one sleeping well at night if you are one of the 46 million (according to the AMA) without health insurance. My vote is that I prefer not to have the AMA be that voice for me (and I have health insurance) or for the 46 million. The AMA, looking out first for its own, fails to uphold that sacred trust given to the physician to be the healer to all who are in need.