Is health care for everyone really possible in the U.S.? The day after viewing this remarkable film, the New York Chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program and the Metro New York Health Care for All Campaign decided to go down to a Manhattan theater that was showing John Q and demonstrate that we think health care for all is possible here.
Most people took leaflets with a smile of agreement; a few others, mostly very young, did not, but that was okay too. Some members of the press appeared, interviewed Assemblyman Gottfried and others, filmed and took pictures as we gave our opinions; later that day we received very good TV and radio coverage. Many people who were passing stopped to listen to what we had to say and obviously approved, but they also asked questions. Some told us their tales. It was quite a day.
When John Q’s young son collapses on a baseball field, this working man not only learns that his HMO won’t pay for the heart transplant the boy so desperately needs to save his life, but that the physicians who had been doing his yearly check ups had never bothered to check the condition of his heart. HMOs often give bonuses to reward doctors who give less care and order fewer tests, as many hospital workers can attest.
Of course the real message of the film was not that we should all go take over emergency rooms at gunpoint, but that we need to get together to bring universal health care to the United States.
Those of us with insurance, like John Q., have to fight with our health plans to get the care we need. We are seeing our premiums and out-of-pocket costs skyrocket while our benefits are cut back. Traditional Medicare still doesn’t cover prescription drugs.
While some of our legislators have been pushing for incremental health care reform, or as Dr. Fitzhugh Mullan has called it, "Tin-Cup Medicine," what’s needed is voices raised from all the John Qs and Jane Qs who believe in comprehensive, quality, affordable health care.
Anyone who would like more information on our action in New York should contact Physicians for a National Health Program-NY at (212) 666-4001 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the New York PNHP website at www.pnhpnyc.org where pictures and leaflets from the event are displayed.