August 3, 2009 9:59:00 AM
We need a new approach to healthcare reform. Not a bipartisan approach, but a non-partisan approach. Not a liberal or conservative mindset, but a thoughtful and objective one. Not a rich verses poor mentality, but one of Americans helping each other. In the past 14 months I have talked with thousands of patients who deal with healthcare problems daily. I have talked with dozens of legislators, many political pundits, and scores of medical industry "thought leaders," I have come to believe that very few of the latter have any real grasp of the problem, much less a solution. Tragically, the vast majority of those individuals seem to be looking out for their own interests. In the current rush to get a reform bill passed by an arbitrary deadline, I am very afraid that it will not represent reform at all, but will be such a disastrous mix of pet provisions and compromise that it will be little better than what we currently have. Increasing the number of people covered by a poor system is not reform!
There is a way to accomplish true reform of our healthcare system. There is a non-profit web site (www.OurHealthReform.com) dedicated to a discussion of the problems in healthcare and of a way to approach reform. It describes a way that we can build, in a step-wise manner, on what we already have in place in America. We could have full universal coverage over three to five years utilizing existing funds. It is not complicated. It is not difficult. It is fundable, sustainable, flexible, and it favors no one. It requires a public plan, not a government run plan, as a way to capture some of the $200-$400 billion wasted each year by just the seven largest private insurers in America. We already spend enough money in America on healthcare each year to fund universal coverage. We just need to redirect how it is spent.
I am sending this letter to 150 U.S. newspapers in an effort to prod average Americans to educate themselves and become active in healthcare reform. I need input from average Americans. They are the very people that will be utilizing whatever plan Washington manages to produce. I need no more input from politicians mired in there own preconceptions and party rhetoric. I need no input from the self-serving special interest groups that are currently spreading money and influence over our elected servants. If we are not successful in getting average Americans to make up their minds and then to make themselves heard in Washington, we will deserve the disaster that will be handed to us. Please be active. Please help. Please call the senators and representatives for your state or district and demand true healthcare reform with a public option.
Mark E. Green, M.D., Maryville, TN