HEALTH CARE ACCESS: Stymied by Capitalist Approach?
Calling for a halt to "legislative tinkering" as a means of curing America's health care access ills, former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop and Dartmouth College medical school Dean John Baldwin propose the de-privatization of health care in a Washington Post op-ed. Despite the 16% of Americans who lack health insurance, the authors write, the public has "been lulled into a false sense of confidence that the real worsening crisis in American health care can somehow be solved by implementation of 'reforms.'" They cite HMOs' deference to stockholders and fault "exceedingly profitable health care corporations" for forcing health care into the realm of the business world -- a world where "[p]eople with AIDS, most children with congenital, chronic or catastrophic illness, poor people, old people and most truly sick" are left behind. Koop and Baldwin note that America's forays into biomedical research have earned the nation a position of international leadership, yet "[o]ur problem is a failure of distribution." They attribute this failure to "our tacit acquiescence in the notion that health care access rightly depends on ability to pay," a point of view that "has become, for many, a point of philosophical and ideological zeal." In sum, the authors urge their readers to abandon "cliches about 'socialized medicine' and hackneyed references to overly bureaucratized, centralized inefficient postwar European health systems," and to build public consensus that considers adequate, accessible health care "an appropriate goal for this country and a vital national investment" (Koop/Baldwin, 5/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.