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One health insurance plan for all Ohioans urged



Published: Mon, August 15, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



One health insurance plan for all Ohioans urged

EDITOR:

Robin Cook, author of medical thrillers such as "COMA" and a medical doctor, declared himself in favor of universal health care in a May 22 op-ed piece in The New York Times.

Prominent Ohio physician Dr. Johnathon Ross, a former president of Physicians for a National Health Program, is slated to deliver a major address in September in Dayton. Some insider speculation has it he'll call on Ohio's physicians to publicly endorse SPAN-Ohio's Health Care for All Ohioans Act. Why should Ohio's physicians step forward to strongly support this universal health care bill?

Popular opinion has been very generous to our medical elites. Most people are insured; physicians and surgeons do important work.

Political insiders and well-informed academics have a less sanguine view of the medical establishment. The current pattern of super-inflationary cost increases and devastating health care shortages for many of us was set by none other than physicians themselves. As early as 1970, our physicians inadvertently but effectively thwarted the better angels of Congress and the American public when they responded to Medicare's inflationary pressures by screening out the uninsured cash patient from their medical practices. Medicare was flawed from the outset by being restricted only to seniors. Our physicians aggravated that flaw.

When popular opinion catches up to insider opinion, we may reasonably expect Congress to entertain proposals that seem wild now, such as, government expropriation of private medical practices, Federal seizure of drug companies and the voiding of drug patents, nationalization of hospitals and medical equipment manufacturers, and the delicensure of medical professionals.

Fortunately there's a less drastic alternative for Buckeye State physicians. That is the proposed Health Care for All Ohioans Act, now being promoted throughout Ohio by SPAN-Ohio through a citizens' petition initiative.

SPAN-Ohio stands for Single Payer Action Network (Ohio). "Single payer" is a sort of activists' shorthand for a unified health insurance risk-premium pool comprising all Ohio residents. Compare with the current system of more than 1,000 commercially managed and commercially defined risk-premium pools in which there's a 1-in-3 chance that you or someone you know will be left out altogether.

Many of our primary care physicians, such as internists, pediatricians, and OB/GYNs, already instinctively favor the continuity and comprehensiveness of care offered by the proposed Health Care for All Ohioans Act. They are the medical doctors who are most keenly aware of our current system's shortcomings.

Medical specialists and surgeons are a bit more distant. We'll have to rely on primary care physicians to persuade their up-market colleagues of the importance of Health Care for All Ohioans.

We'll also have to count on our medical doctors and surgeons to treat with due skepticism the inevitable opposition to Health Care for All Ohioans. The attorneys and public relations specialists of the Ohio State Medical Association, our physicians' own political lobby, will be among the most vigorously opposed to Health Care for All Ohioans. Cloaking their arguments in a sort of bogus scientific objectivity, and trading on the public's fear of change, OSMA's political operatives will be joined by those from commercial health insurers, drug companies, hospitals, and medical equipment makers.

The Health Care for All Ohioans Act will normalize cash flows to ailing medical practices and dying hospitals, increase the timeliness and efficiency with which medical transactions are conducted, drastically cut administrative overhead, and, perhaps most important, restore the integrity of medical counsel and the prestige of medical licensure.

JACK LABUSCH

Niles

X The writer desscribes himself as an activist with SPAN-Ohio.

Insurgents have free rein

EDITOR:

It is more than apparent that the insurgents in Iraq have free access to motor vehicles, explosives and the road system in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq.

It is also apparent that our military in Iraq are spread too thin. The local Iraq military have not been that helpful in halting the killing of far too many of our military personnel and innocent civilians while our so called "commander in chief" vacations at his Texas ranch and continues to speak of "staying the course."

ARTHUR H. DAVIS

New Middletown




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