March 27th, 2009 By | News | Posted In: Healthcare Reform, President Obama

U.S. Needs Major Healthcare Reform, Not Band-Aid

In their typically overheated and sensationalistic manner, some conservatives are actually blaming “socialism” and our northern neighbor for the recent death of actress Natasha Richardson.

Several conservative pundits are pontificating about Richardson’s skiing accident in Canada and using factually inaccurate information to bolster their case that deficiencies in Canada’s government-run healthcare system might have contributed to the actress’ death.

Columnists and Op-Ed pages at The Chicago Tribune, The New York Post and other outlets have questioned whether the Canadian hospital where Richardson initially was taken had a CT scanner, and whether a helicopter flight — instead of the actual ambulance drive that was used — to another facility might’ve resulted in a timelier diagnosis and treatment which could have saved her life.

The reality is, the hospital Richardson was first taken to did have a CT scanner. And there’s no evidence that the drive to another hospital contributed to Richardson’s death.

What is clear is the current U.S. healthcare system, which relies on profit and treats medical treatment as a commodity rather than a public service, hasn’t served its citizens well and continues to get worse with each passing year as politicians bicker about what reforms are needed.

A recent study shows that one out of every five American workers is uninsured, up from one in seven workers just a decade ago. A total of 26.9 million workers are uninsured, even though they are productive citizens and pay taxes.

Conducted by the University of Minnesota’s State Health Access Data Assistance Center, the study found that insurance premiums have increased six to eight times faster than wages.

The study was sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which provides money for healthcare research.

Perhaps more troubling, another recent study — conducted by The Lewin Group and sponsored by Families USA — found that 86.7 million Americans were uninsured at some point during the past two years. That’s much higher than the U.S. Census update in 2007, which reported 45.7 million were uninsured.

Although President Obama has said healthcare reform is a top priority and has convened a group of experts to study options, he’s essentially ruled out converting to a single-payer system.

Single-payer national health insurance involves a system in which one governmental agency controls healthcare financing and negotiates prices but the actual delivery of services remains handled by private providers The government provides insurance, but people keep their choice of private physicians, who continue to provide services.

Most industrialized democracies use some form of single-payer, and numerous studies have shown their systems to be more efficient and produce better overall health results than the U.S. system.

Still, the highly profitable insurance industry exploits Americans’ fears about having to wait for some services to stymie serious reform. Unfortunately, the overly timid Obama has bought into this thinking.

Obama’s no socialist and, despite what conservatives say, a single-payer system isn’t socialized medicine.

But it was a true socialist — Billy Wharton, editor of Socialist magazine — who posed a pertinent question to the president earlier this month in an Op-Ed piece in The Washington Post, one I’d like to hear Obama answer.

“Can you sell a health-care reform package,” Wharton wrote, “that will only end up enriching a private health insurance industry?”

03.27.2009 at 05:54 Reply
Good article Kevin. Bernie Sanders just introduced a single payer bill in the Senate. http://www.cincinnatibeacon.com/index.php/contents/comments/single_payer_health_reform_bill_introduced_in_senate/ It's too bad John Fox didn't ask Obama why he flip flopped on this issue. You guys could have at least covered this issue during an election season. There were twon candidates talking about this issue and you guys shut them both out. I can understand why you endorsed Obama, but failing to cover the real progressive candidates was a diservice to our community. Hopefully you guys will start holding Democrats like Driehaus more accountable in the future. Who's interest is he looking out for? It will be interesting to see what Sherrod Brown does.


03.28.2009 at 07:55 Reply
If you would like to help pressure Congress to pass single payer health care please join our voting bloc at: http://www.votingbloc.org/Health_Bloc.php If we stand together on this issue we can make it happen!


03.29.2009 at 11:17 Reply
Canada cares responsible for Richardson's death? FY (Canadian reply) youtube.com/watch?v=HQ4McUQs8yQ


03.31.2009 at 12:00 Reply
If that hospital had a CT scanner then why wasn't it used? Only 15-20% of patients die from epidural hematoma (Wikipedia). But I guess thats not the case in a nation with SOCIALIZED healthcare. When you have to navigate beauracracy in order to approved an expensive procedure like a CT scan this can be the result. Do a little more research before you write your articles Kevin.


03.31.2009 at 12:08 Reply
Seriously only 15-20% of patients die from an epidural hematoma (Wikipedia). It is a very treatable injury if you diagnose it quickly. The problem was not that the hospital didn't have the equipment, it's the beauracracy you must navigate in order to use the machine. It is a very costly procedure, and when the government is fronting the bill the request to use it must travel up a chain of command. You really need to consider exactly what your asking for. By the way a single payer system is a form of socialized health care.