Advocating for public healthcare

Jake Schwebach
Jake Schwebach

Once the little tank engine that could, private practice needs a lot of help climbing out of a plagued American healthcare hole.

The stark truth is that healthcare debates in Congress are irrelevant to what’s happening. For the sake of keeping an American (cottage industry) image, the benefits of public healthcare (Big Med) remain behind curtains. The Journal of the American Medical Association collects data on historically unprecedented changes in the direction of Big Med and consolidation that have occurred for nearly a decade. Boundaries to medical care will continue to exist as Congress locks into a spite-ridden  stalemate.

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Anyone familiar with Obamacare (commonly known as the Affordable Care Act) knows that our health system has a weaker foundation in primary care and greater barriers to access and affordable care. Bad primary care and coverage is a data-proven avenue to money loss. Commonly misconceived as a system overhaul, Obamacare addresses a single-payer insurance inequality. Any medical journal will tell you that healthcare is a game of chess, not a system – there are countless players always changing the game.

Socioeconomic inequality causes money loss by perpetuating premature discharge, hospital readmission, poor ambulatory care, miscommunication and chronic illness. Taxes can’t sustain the In-‘N-Out Burger style hospitals. We flirt with zero economic intervention in poor, uneducated, drug- and violence-ridden neighborhoods. That tax money leaks from of our pockets. It’s why we lead in newborn mortality rates, unsafe sex, alcohol related vehicular death, gun injuries and calories consumed per capita of all other economically developed countries.

Big Med statistically outmuscles fears of poor medical quality and satisfaction. Reports of high levels of U.S. satisfaction with personal aspects of care confound health economists and policy advocates who are most mindful of costs and see shortfalls in quality. So even when it’s supposedly wrong, it’s right.

Along with economic sensibility and satisfied patients, it saves an estimated 100,000 lives per year just through slip-up prevention. The highly organized campuses ease passage of patient records between doctors, specialists and hospitals. With the time and money it costs private practices to deal with insurance companies, they can’t spare anything more for advances in electronic filing.

Dr. Michael Mirro, in a testimony to the New York Times, built his private cardiology practice to one of the largest in Indiana, employing 22 cardiologists. When the economy dipped he said, “We had to hire more and more people to contact insurers and advocate for people to get the care they needed. That’s expensive. In the last year, the share of our patients from whom we could not hope to collect any money rose to about 30 percent.” He was financially forced to sell his company to Parview Health, where he now works in the cardiology department. But Dr. Mirro “Wouldn’t go back,” he said, “now that we’ve seen the value of improved patient care and improved communication with primary care physicians.” This increasing trend says a lot.

If you’re going into medicine, consider that “young physicians, burdened by medical school debts and seeking regular hours,” more and more are “accepting salaries at hospitals and health systems,” according to the Times. The romantic notion of self-employed doctors was long ago traded for poor social funding. Without public healthcare, where would doctors go, let alone how would we pay for them? As a country we can hardly sustain our own educations and neighborhoods.

It has already taken place in our own backyard. The University of Colorado Health Care System is an example of Big Med. Their campuses serve Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins. Just in Fort Collins, it encompasses Poudre Valley Hospital, all of its subgroups, Urgent Care and Mountain Crest Behavioral Healthcare Center. Urgent Care is building a new cancer center. If you’re getting medical attention here, it’s probably public unless you’re willing to pay a lot more for private facilities and physicians. Mental health, a field still underfunded, remains largely private.

Let’s ask ourselves why we’re still in a stalemate. Image is solely what we have to lose by letting Big Med run its already trending course. Tax money would stop being spent on shoddy hospital care and readmissions. It allows physicians to do the same work in more efficient organizations for slightly less money. Private hospitals can charge what they want for procedures and public hospitals are government regulated. Let’s ask Congress to stop resisting.

Jake Schwebach would like to see politicians stop arguing and more public healthcare. Feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

In Brief:

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The benefits of public healthcare remain behind curtains.

We have huge barriers when it comes to affordable healthcare.

Congress needs to stop resisting and let Big Med happen.