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Archive for May 2nd, 2009

Congressman Jim McDermott predicts single-payer health plan!

rep-jim-mcdermott
Congressman predicts single-payer health plan

By John Sammon
The Herald, Monterey County (Calif.)
April 27, 2009

 

National health care for all Americans is an idea whose time has come, a visiting lawmaker said Sunday at CSU- Monterey Bay.

“It’s in our face,” Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., said. “We can’t avoid it. That’s why something is going to happen.”

A physician serving his 11th term in the House, McDermott has long championed health care reform and supports “single-payer” legislation guaranteeing affordable coverage to all Americans.

McDermott said the election of Barack Obama is among the most fundamental change in the effort to get all Americans health care.

“The first thing that has to happen, is that you have to have a president who will lead,” he said.

McDermott spoke to about 100 people in the CSUMB University Center at an event sponsored by the Compassionate Care Alliance.

He said 45 million Americans do not have medical insurance, while another 30 million are underinsured. But, he said, several influential groups, including doctors and unions, recognize the need for national health coverage.

“Industry also wants a national health plan,” he said. “They want to divest themselves of health costs. Health care costs are the number one cause of bankruptcies.”

McDermott predicted that drug and insurance companies will resist change.

“People never had a problem with taking care of roads and schools,” he explained. “But some of them still have the idea that when it comes to health care, it’s your private responsibility.”

An earlier attempt to institute national coverage bogged down when the Clinton administration tried to sponsor a 1,600-page plan, he said.

“The president (Obama) is saying this time, if you’ve got good coverage, if you like it, it’s OK, there won’t be any change in your system,” he said. “But the problem is, we’ve got too many people today who have no coverage at all, and they’re just crossing their fingers hoping nothing happens to them until they can find a job.”

McDermott described a dysfunctional health care system beset by soaring costs. As an example, he noted a patient who during a one-day visit, had an MRI and two CAT scans costing $11,000. The reading of a couple of X-rays generated another $1,500 charge.

“You can’t tolerate a system that operates that way,” he said.

Added to high costs is the often bewildering array of separate payment plans, resulting in a mountain of wasteful, time-consuming paperwork, McDermott said

New doctors, McDermott said, face a make-big-money-or- else quandary.

“You’ve got a medical student who comes out of college $150,000 in debt, maybe $250,000. This doctor has a family with children and says to himself, ‘I’ve got to make a lot of money.’ … You don’t go into primary care in an underserved (poor) area because it isn’t sufficient to pay off the debt.”

He said a possible solution would be to give free or low-cost tuition to medical students if they agreed to provide primary care in an underserved area for four years.

McDermott indicated that part of the problem is America’s reverence for the free-market system: It’s hard for us to visualize a national system.

He cited France as an example of an effective health care system. “The French are rated the best in the world, and we’re No. 18,” he said. “In this country, it depends on who you are and what plastic (credit card) you have. The idea of us learning from other countries is a hard concept for the U.S. We say to ourselves, ‘how could they know more.’”

Nevertheless, McDermott said single-payer national health care will be adopted here.

“There will be a campaign to support this from the grass roots. You need to place pressure on your congressman. They will react to people asking them, why don’t you do something? There’s no question people can make a real impact.”

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Written by jointefforthost

May 2, 2009 at 1:40 am