I recently received an email from a friend asking me to sign a petition listing the following principles for health care reform as set out by President Obama:
REDUCE COSTS — Rising health care costs are crushing the budgets of governments, businesses, individuals and families and they must be brought under control
GUARANTEE CHOICE — Americans must have the freedom to keep whatever doctor and health care plan they have, or to select a new doctor or health care plan if they choose
ENSURE AFFORDABLE CARE FOR ALL — All Americans must have quality and affordable health care
These principles, though pithy, are much too general. Who defines “quality” and “affordable”? Here’s what I propose as the real principles for health care that we should be following:
The REAL PRINCIPLES
HEALTH IS A HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUE Access to health care is a human right and recipients should not be subject to market pressures or personal financial considerations in their pursuit of good health.
MEDICAL EXPERTS AND THEIR PATIENTS SHOULD HAVE CONTROL OVER MEDICAL DECISIONS Doctors, nurses, and patients together — not insurance companies — should determine medical treatment.
WE SHOULD BE WORKING TOWARD A PATIENT-CENTERED — NOT PROFIT-CENTERED — SYSTEM A majority of Americans (a NY Times poll from June 20, 2009 reports 72%) are in favor of a public option. Our current system lags far behind those of other developed countries, in terms of health outcomes, convenience, and cost. (Check out our dismal ranking here.)
OUR POPULATION’S HEALTH IS A COMMUNITY RESPONSIBILITY We pay for public education with taxes because we believe that an educated citizenry is a benefit to all. We pay for our judicial system, our military, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food & Drug Administration, our airports, roads, and bridges — and many other critical items — in the same way, because they make all of us stronger. Is health care less important than these other essential services?
A BAD BILL IS WORSE THAN NO BILL We need major reform, not a re-jiggering of the current system. We must not settle for less. A complicated incremental bill will not help anyone, except the industry lobbyists who are working so hard toward that goal.
And I like to think that Frances Perkins would agree.