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Cure for health care woes is single-payer system

08/27/2009

By Henri de Marne

I feel compelled to reply again to Olin Potter's continuing harangue about the single-payer system.

Here we go again! Olin Potter's latest harangue about "Say no to the single-payer system" is plastered with misstatements and incomplete information.

First, Medicare (of which he is beneficiary) and the Veteran's Administration are both single-payer systems and have not led us down the path of socialism, which Olin and others with similar political agendas keep harping about. A case in point is the VA, which has a stellar record of excellent cost effectiveness and equally outstanding health outcomes for arguably one of our most challenging chronically ill population.

His repeated statements about the failed single-payer system of the UK and Canada are made without any factual proofs. What experience does he have with either of them? On the other hand, I can speak from experience about the single-payer system in France, having several relatives and friends who benefit from it and are completely satisfied with it. Both my parents, when they were alive, were admirably cared for by this system and would not have wished any changes to it.

Olin's claims that the U.S. system is the best in the world is highly questionable. We have a less than perfect score on a number of health issues, including adult and infant mortality, when compared to other developed countries -- even Cuba is ranked higher than us! It's easy to pound on our chests and clamor that we are the best, but reality is otherwise.

His claims that what drives the cost of medical care in this country is frivolous malpractice suits and unnecessary tests ordered by doctors to cover their backsides are, again, the clarion call of those who see the issue with blinders. The true high costs of the medical care in this country are the indecent and outrageous salaries and bonuses paid to a bunch of bureaucrats managing our care when that should be left to the medical profession.
The true high costs are driven by insurance companies spending millions to lobby against any system that would jeopardize their huge profits, pharmaceutical companies gouging the U.S. consumer and the high costs of medical procedures enriching the specialist physicians who order them.

Denial of care by these bureaucrats for some legitimate illnesses or manufactured "pre-existing" conditions is unconscionable and not worthy of a civilized nation. The cure to our failing health care system is to get rid of those with vested interest in business as usual, return to a focus on primary care under a universal/single-payer system as it is done in most civilized western countries -- a system similar to Medicare that is not dictating what care can or cannot be granted or denied, and that is operating quite efficiently without government intervention.

Olin has not answered the question I posed last time I felt compelled to answer his misguided letter: Are you taking advantage of Medicare or, following your line of thinking, have you chosen to not sign up and, instead, are you practicing what you preach and covering yourself with the private insurance you claim to be the answer to all our ills? If not, it smells of hypocrisy.


Henri de Marne lives in Waitsfield.

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