Monday, October 8, 2007

"'Socialized Medicine' Quakery" discussed in Washington Post

Ezekial J. Emanuel, an oncologist and Chair of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health, succinctly discusses the issue of 'socialized medicine' as it relates to the ongoing debate surrounding healthcare reform.

And with this statement:
"Apparently, this old bogeyman is just too tempting."

I suspect that Dr. Emanuel may have read my little article:
"Single-Payer Health Coverage: Scary Boogey Man or Super Process-Improvement Force in Health Care Reform?"

"'Socialized Medicine' Quakery"-Washington Post, October 8, 2007, by Dr. Emanuel, excerpts below
Properly speaking, socialism is when the state owns or controls the means of production. Thus "socialized medicine" is when the doctors are state employees; when the hospitals, drugstores, home health agencies and other facilities are owned and controlled by the government.

Only one part of the U.S. system really is socialized medicine: the veterans' health-care system, which is wholly owned and operated by the federal government. Veterans love the system and vigorously oppose any suggestions of dismantling it and integrating them into civilian health care.
I have an aunt who is a nurse working in the VA hospital in Oklahoma City. She has served in many capacities over the years in various hospitals, including working in a neonatal ward. She loves her job at the VA and the patients are quite appreciative of the care they receive. The VA system works.
None of the proposals by the three major Democratic presidential candidates can be characterized as socialized medicine. None calls for government ownership or control over U.S. hospitals, drugstores or home health agencies, or for making doctors employees of the federal or state governments. Indeed, the proposals by Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama retain and even include measures to expand the private employer-based insurance system.

Let me reiterate....the proposals for universal health care are NOT, I repeat, NOT seeking to establish 'socialized' healthcare. Private insurance will still be in business. Doctors will still be in private practice. Pharmacies will still be staffed by licenced pharmacists. Ok, you get my point.

When discussing policy, philosophy, and reform, please stick to the facts and refrain from fear-mongering and stirring up unfounded controversy.
It is absurd to call an expansion of government payments for health care in the existing private delivery system socialized medicine. Politics may be full of hype, exaggeration or partisan bickering, but there should be no place for overt deception. A serious debate about whether and how to reform the American health-care system requires that we eliminate comments whose only purpose is to mischaracterize and misinform.

Those who invoke the specter of "socialized medicine" should answer this question: Do you think the government should help fund medical care for those who cannot afford it, just as it funds education for children whose parents cannot afford to educate them? If not, say so explicitly and justify your position. But, please, spare us the derogatory language.

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