Health Care to the Max

  • by: |
  • 10/08/2007
Grace-Marie Turner, Galen’s Grande Dame reports that ...

“In Rome last week, I debated Italian politicians on national radio, tried to explain our health system to government and industry leaders, and spoke at a conference at the Vatican about the fundamental values of health care and the common good.

Some take-aways: Europeans truly believe that we have a permanent underclass in the U.S. of 47 million poor citizens who have absolutely no access to health care. They are shocked at how barbaric we are and that any civilized country would tolerate such a thing. When I tried to explain the facts -- through a translator -- to an Italian senator on RAI radio, he was incensed.

He didn't want to hear that we spend nearly as much as a percentage of our GDP on public programs -- to cover about one-third of our people -- as many European countries spend of their GDPs in total on health care. Or that almost half of our more than $2 trillion in health expenditures are primarily through these public programs that cover the poor, the aged, the disabled, veterans, and lower-income children. Or that many of the uninsured are temporarily without coverage in a system that ties health insurance to the workplace. Or that the uninsured do get care -- albeit in a far from ideal system -- through hospitals, private physicians, community health centers, charity clinics, and other means. Or that Americans value private coverage with its broader access to new technologies and medicines and faster access to surgeries and treatments.

It seemed almost as if he wanted people to believe that there is nothing at all to be learned from Americans so as not to crack the veneer of socialized systems.”

Attention must be paid by American officials – particularly by thoughtful legislators such as Senator Max Baucus (the Chairman of the Finance Committee -- with jurisdiction over the major public health insurance programs) -- whose “five broad principles of reform” are, whether you agree with the basic premise or all or none, worthy of intense scrutiny and robust debate. They are:

Universal coverage. (“We cannot address the health care system, and leave a growing portion of the country behind. Though this much be a public and private sector mix.”)

Sharing the burden. (“The way to ensure affordable coverage is to create pooling arrangements.”)

Controlling costs. (“Any serious proposal must reduce the rate of growth of health care costs.”)

Prevention. (“By making prevention the foundation of our health care system, we can spare patients needless suffering. We can avoid the high costs of treating an illness that has been allowed to progress.”)

Shared responsibility. (“Health coverage is a shared responsibility and all should contribute.”)

Note: Parenthetical quotes come directly from Senator Baucus' website.

The one thing we should all be able to agree upon is that there are no easy solutions … America’s SiCKO Apologists notwithstanding.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

Blog Roll

Alliance for Patient Access Alternative Health Practice
Better Health
Biotech Blog
CA Medicine man
Cafe Pharma
Campaign for Modern Medicines
Carlat Psychiatry Blog
Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry: A Closer Look
Conservative's Forum
Club For Growth
Diabetes Mine
Disruptive Women
Doctors For Patient Care
Dr. Gov
Drug Channels
DTC Perspectives
Envisioning 2.0
FDA Law Blog
Fierce Pharma
Fresh Air Fund
Furious Seasons
Gel Health News
Hands Off My Health
Health Business Blog
Health Care BS
Health Care for All
Healthy Skepticism
Hooked: Ethics, Medicine, and Pharma
Hugh Hewitt
In the Pipeline
In Vivo
Internet Drug News
Jaz'd Healthcare
Jaz'd Pharmaceutical Industry
Jim Edwards' NRx
Kaus Files
Laffer Health Care Report
Little Green Footballs
Med Buzz
Media Research Center
More than Medicine
National Review
Neuroethics & Law
Nurses For Reform
Nurses For Reform Blog
Opinion Journal
Orange Book
Peter Rost
Pharm Aid
Pharma Blog Review
Pharma Blogsphere
Pharma Marketing Blog
Pharmacology Corner
Pharmaceutical Business Review
Piper Report
Prescription for a Cure
Public Plan Facts
Real Clear Politics
Shark Report
Shearlings Got Plowed
Taking Back America
Terra Sigillata
The Cycle
The Catalyst
The Lonely Conservative
Town Hall
Washington Monthly
World of DTC Marketing
WSJ Health Blog