Healthcare according to Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader is the only candidate who supports Universal Healthcare for all as a human right. Health, not merely illness should be a public concern. We could save at least $36 billion a years if we had a "paperless hospital system." As Business Week reported recently we could save just by using electronic communication for transmitting patient data. The health sector makes up about 14% of the GNP, but only 1 to 2% of the budget is spent on information technology. Banks spend 10%. Physicians and health professionals spend more than 50% of their time dealing with tasks that have no direct use for the patient. One can imagine what would happen in the U.S. if we eliminated all intermediate levels, doing away with these unnecessary costs. In addition, we would have to get rid of the profit motive, which puts stockholders first in order to satisfy the bottom line.
The U.S. is the only developed country without universal access to healthcare. A vote for Ralph Nader would start us on the way towards a new, equitable system. According to American Medical News for July 24, 2000 there is a "malaise" spreading through American medicine. A recent set of focus groups involving physicians on problems and problem solving unveiled an alarming expression of rage, skepticism and hopelessness. These doctors felt embattled. They were loath to trust any solutions for their problems. The sources of frustrations were many: financial, legal, professional and personal. In the climate of managed care doctors are denied the sense of achievement they expected from their practice.
Are patients now corporate clients? Jamie Court who wrote the recent book "Making a Killing - HMO's and the threat to your health" wrote recently that "the announcement by United Health group, the nation's second largest health plan, that it will sell hundreds of thousands of its California patients to Blue Shield is much more than an innocuous business maneuver." The phrase "corporate chattel" is a very apt description of how patients are now viewed by managed care. The sale of "covered lives" as patients are now called, without the sale of a company, a bankruptcy, or merger turns patients into commodities. It sounds very much like Wall Street.
The US is slipping so far and so fast behind industrialized countries. It is happening every day and understandably people are frightened by the changes taking place. Decision-making has been quietly co-opted by "bioethics", a genre of philosophical discourse practiced by an elite group of academics, philosophers, lawyers, and physicians, many of whom are openly hostile to the sanctity of life and the Hippocratic traditions that most people still take for granted. This is all about money, not ethics. Who lives and who dies prematurely is governed by how many dollars are available.
The US would fare better according to Ralph Nader by adopting in theory and practice the Canadian model. Their system provides universal, accessible, portable, comprehensive care at reasonable cost through a public insurance scheme. This provincially administered system allows for flexibility, as well as choices for patients and providers. Physicians remain free to bill the provinces for services. This is not socialized medicine as some critics have charged. The federal government raises funds and then distributes these funds to the provinces. Since the Canada Health Act was initiated 30 years ago patients have not been billed. There is a whole generation that has grown up with this system in place. It is successful in part because the middle layer of administrative bureaucracy, so costly to maintain, does not exist. This system provides for planning to avoid unnecessary duplication and limitation to access. It enjoys more support from citizens than can be claimed by the health care in the US.
George W. Bush and Albert Gore are not calling for an end to managed care - Ralph Nader is. He is calling for action, which makes clear that health care, should be a right, not a privilege. Ralph Nader supports (1) Informed Consent Laws to educate consumers to potential health impacts (2) Primary Care through a renewed attention to family medicine as opposed to medical specialization (3) the right of a woman to control her own body (4) medical research and an increase in its funding (5) adequate social and health services for those who have special needs (6) wider implementation of hospice care and (6) an all out campaign against AIDS and HIV.
Ralph Nader condemns HIV discrimination and would make drug treatment and other programs available for all addicts who seek help and would expand clinical trials for treatments and vaccines and speed up the FDA drug approval process.
A vote for Nader is not a wasted one. Just think What Republican worth his salt would allow Roe v. Wade to disappear from the American landscape? That would be political suicide. Vote for the issues, not for some imagined scenarios of who might be on the Supreme Court bench in years to come. Your health is too important right now!