Mad As Hell Doctors

The Mad As Hell Doctors came to the University of Oregon campus the other day as part of their campaign for single payer health care. There were nine speakers, all but one of them doctors. Paul Hochfeld, an emergency room physician, started off. He pointed out that, in a sense, we are already paying for health care for everyone. One of the reasons for the high cost of medical treatment is to pay for people who are uninsured. He said that under current conditions, the population is divided up into different “risk pools”: medicare recipients, medicaid recipients, veterans, employed people, etc. This makes managing health care in this country unnecessarily complicated and expensive. Under single payer, there would be one single risk pool that would include everybody. Michael Huntington, another emergency room physician, talked about how he sees people with advanced cancers. They delay seeing a doctor because they don’t have insurance. When they finally do see one, their cases are too far advanced to be treated successfully. Joseph Eusterman said that what we are seeing is “an American Holocaust”.

One point that was made repeatedly was that the number of primary care physicians is declining. This is because under current conditions, it is more profitable to be a specialist. It was also pointed out that the U.S. has the highest administrative and billing costs for medical care of any developed nation. This is largely because hospitals and doctors’ offices have to use separate software and billing forms for each insurance company. By contrast, they pointed that only two to three cents of every dollar spent on Medicare goes to administrative costs. They also argued that health care costs will go up under the health care bill that was recently passed by Congress. As for the “public option”, the doctors pointed out that this would be just another insurance company. It is not a solution.

The doctors urged people to organize to fight for a single payer system. “We need to be Egyptians,” one of them said.

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One Response to “Mad As Hell Doctors”

  1. Paul Dean Says:

    It’s probably worth noting that doctor go in for a specialist field because of the huge loans they pick up becoming a doctor, probably $60,000 or a lot more per year.
    So we really need not just a ‘single payer’ system but a fully nationalized health care system that would include all the hospitals and teaching hospitals.
    And we need to take over the drug companies that just suck the life blood out of the health care system.
    Once the profit system is out of the way we can truly have a first class health care system, but it must be fully funded.
    Money for health care, not for war!

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