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The fix is a single-payer system

Over the past few months, much has been written about health care issues. The naysayers have been saying that the health care proposed by President Obama is going to take us into the abyss of deeper deficits and bring us social medicine, and lead us to the total destruction of our society.

Never mind the fact that the worst contributors to the deficit have been the Bush/Cheney’s unprovoked and insane war with Iraq and the Republicans’ insistence that the super wealthy continue to get their tax breaks, while the less fortunate among us must carry the burden of paying for our government.

It was not that long ago that Mr. Shaw, who frequently treats us to his conservative contributions, took me to task for having said that our health care system is way down the list of health care in other countries, including Cuba’s. “Cuba! Really!” was his reply. Mr. Shaw, if you did your research, you would not be so smug. I recently attended a conference on health care given by a renowned M.D. who has spent the last couple of years in Washington, D.C., advising the Congress and administration on health care issues. She unequivocally stated that we are rated internationally as being the 40th nation in quality of health care, and, yes, behind Cuba! Really! We have a higher infant mortality than Cuba and a greater risk of infection in hospitals than in many other countries, including some far poorer than we are.

Another fallacy constantly hammered at by the ultra right is that the Canadian and British systems are so badly run and patients have to wait so long for appointments and surgeries that they come to the U.S. I wonder how long you have to wait to get an appointment with your doctor, your dermatologist, your dentist, your surgeon. I have had appointments scheduled with these practitioners two to three months away. I need a hip replacement. The surgeon, contacted in February, could not see me until May 18 for evaluation, with surgery scheduled for sometime in September. Dentist? Two months! Dermatologist? Three months! Great service!

Several years ago, after our own Dr. Fran Cook suggested that I should go see a neurologist, I made an appointment with one in Burlington. Because I sensed that he was way off in his diagnosis, a Canadian doctor friend suggested that I should go get a second opinion in a hospital in Montreal that specializes in neurological problems. I was given an immediate appointment and, after extensive testing, was told that my symptoms were due to stress, and not to the fusing of my carotid artery and vein, for which the Burlington surgeon wanted to perform surgery on an emergency basis. I cured my problem within weeks by following the Canadian doctor's advice. And the cost in Canadian dollars was very low.

And now to our sacred insurance companies, which the ultra right says we need to provide us with competition and the best insurance for our medical care. My wife is a mental health practitioner. She deals with several insurance companies on a daily basis. Her reimbursements are lowered almost yearly, while insurance companies make indecent profits and their executives are receiving outrageous bonuses on top of huge salaries for screwing the public. Case in point: the multi-million dollars given the retiring Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Vermont CEO, in spite of his questioned performance. And how about the scandal at Fletcher Allen Health Care when CEO Boetcher was canned and left with a huge pot of money although imprisoned for his misdeeds? These CEOs get theirs regardless of how they perform.

Our health-care system is broken, and we need a single-payer system to straighten it out. Otherwise why would most doctors favor it? Get your heads out of the sand and do your own research! It’s time you educate yourselves to our growing ills.

Henri de Marne was a Valley resident for 40 years and now lives in Essex.

 

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