Health care is not the only matter about which I care. I promise. But, I do care about it.
You likely do not realize it, but 70% more women die at childbirth in the United States than in Europe. Wonder why? I expect it has something to do with our amazingly high uninsured rate and with our inadequate access to proper care for everyone.
A few days ago my personal physician, Dr. Cliff Fullerton, sent me an article published in The New England Journal of Medicine ("Do We Really Want Broad Access to Health Care?" by James J. Morgan, MD and Thomas H. Lee, MD, March 24, 2005, pp. 1260-1263).
You can get to the essay at: http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/extract/352/12/1260.
The authors ask a simple question or two of us.
Why so little conversation about the uninsured in the national "values discussion" of the last election?
Why our relatively recent and ongoing obsession about not raising taxes no matter what the need or outcome nationally?
The fact is, they instruct us, our market-based solutions have failed in controlling costs and in seeing that everyone is cared for appropriately in our nation.
Let me give you a quote or two.
"The anti-tax movement should be recognized for what it is, the main enemy of those who truly seek to meet the needs of the 45 million uninsured Americans. Admitting that we are living with two irreconcilable values--we want to see ourselves as a caring people, but we don't want our taxes to go up--is unpleasant. For that reason, we work hard to protect our self-image by means of elaborate fantasies.
"We tell ourselves that the uninsured have only themselves to blame for their situation, whereas the truth is that about 80 percent of them are either employed or dependents of those who are employed. . . .
"We tell ourselves that they are actually getting care despite our flawed system. . . .We are willing to pay enough to move the [acute] care indoors and out of sight. But we are not willing to provide the coverage for the chronic conditions and preventive care that might enable the uninsured to lead more productive and happier lives.
"How can a country as idealistic and generous as the United States fail repeatedly to accomplish in health care coverage what every other industrialized nation has achieved? One explanation may be that we are not so idealistic or generous as we would like to believe we are.
"Over the past 30 years, . . .we have become a relatively affluent nation of consumers who are focused more on the rights and desires of individuals than on the needs of the community."
I'll share more from these good docs in a day or so. But, I am convinced they speak truth to us.
More importantly, they speak truth to the power that is failing millions of our fellow citizens in the nation.
Doctors who sound like prophets.
I know some preachers who ought to go to school on their wisdom and their courage.