Some Doctors Urge New President to Change Health Care Coverage

The United States spends more money on health care than other country, yet the outcome does not reflect the amount paid.

"We have the lowest life expectancy of any of the industrialized countries, the highest infant mortality f the industrialized countries, the highest maternal mortality, we don't have as many MRIs, CTs, we don't do as many bone marrow transplants, etc, etc. So, what I'm saying is that for the amount of money that we spend, we're not getting our money's worth."

Ana Malinow, a local pediatrician, is president of Physicians for a National Health Program, a group of over 15-thousand doctors from all over the country. She says we spend way too much on our current health care system.

"Right now, our health care system costs 2.1-trillion dollars a year, and if you think about that in billions, that's two thousand billion dollars a year. We're all worried about the 700-billion bailout which is a lot of money, but think about it. Two thousand billion of that every single year for health care."

P-N-H-P supports a single-payer national health insurance program. Dr. Malinow says some call it a Medicare for all.

"And it's publically funded. So, already we have a mechanism for funding Medicare for those over 65. We would just have to expand that and fund it for those under 65 as well."

She says the current system in place is so expensive and fragmented to finance because it is for profit.

"That 2.1 trillion dollars, somebody takes that home at the end of the day, and the people that are making money off of this health care system, are not willing to give that up very easily."

Dr Malinow is convinced a single-payer system would eliminate administrative costs and be able to fund coverage for everyone.

"I really do believe that if Congress were to pass a bill such as House Resolution 676, which is improved and expanded Medicare for all, that he would sign it."

Houston Democratic Congressman Gene Green says he's familiar with House Resolution 676, which is backed by 90 lawmakers.

"I think that would do it. That would be the ideal plan but, the biggest concern I think a lot of us have is we want to cover everyone, and if we change the system all of a sudden to single-payer, we would have all of the problems that you have with trying to turn around a huge health care system in a short time."

But he says health care reform won't be changed overnight.

"Obviously, I would love to see a single-payer in our country someday, but I think we have to get there incrementally, so we don't lose a lot of the benefits of our current system."

Pundits say the three things President-elect Obama should address are the economy, the war and health care.

Pat Hernandez, KUHF...Houston Public Radio News.
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