February 27, 2006

Doctor Favors Nat'l Health Care

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“I believe that we need to expand Medicare to all individuals,” said Rudolph Mueller M.D., author of As Sick As It Gets: The Shocking Reality of America’s Healthcare, A Diagnosis and Treatment Plan, last Friday to students interested in careers in medicine. Mueller spoke about what he believes to be the “good, bad and ugly” of both being a medical professional and the state of health care in this country. The event was sponsored by Cornell Career Services.

Mueller is a member of the Physicians for a National Health Care Program, a non-profit organization which, according to its website, “believes that a single-payer system where the government finances health care, but keeps the delivery of health care to mostly private control is the only solution to solving the United States’ many health care problems.”

Medicare is the federal government insurance plan which covers certain medical expenses. But the program is restricted to Americans over the age of 65 or individuals with disabilities. Currently, 43 million Americans are without any health insurance, but Mueller believes that the number without satisfactory health insurance actually hovers around 100 million.

“The system is simply ugly. The United States has the lowest life expectancy of the wealthy democracies, right around 70 years of age. Some individuals lose insurance when they turn 19 simply because they are turning 19. Not enough doctors are speaking out against this,” Mueller said.

But other doctors disagree that a national health insurance program is the way to go. First of all, the system could become huge and unmanageable for the federal government if 300 million Americans are all covered under the same umbrella. Additionally, more money would be going to the private companies hired to “deliver” the health care instead of the doctors who are actually providing the health care.

Other financial problems for physicians include being sued more often. President Bush has tried to push tort reform through the government in order to protect doctors from being sued for simply trying to perform their jobs. But opponents say doctors should be held accountable for their mistakes just as individuals in other professions.

Doctors seem to be in agreement that while advancements in technology have made care of patients better and better over recent years, the current system for providing care has become worse and worse. Some physicians like Mueller in fact believe that failure is costing American lives. But those in the medical profession do not agree on how to change the system. Until changes are made though, the number of uninsured Americans will continue to rise.

Archived article by Alex Lebowitz
Sun Staff Writer