Posted on May 18, 2009

Doctor: Single-payer system would solve health-care woes


By Allison Ryan
News Tribune (LaSalle, Ill.)
Thursday, May 14, 2009

Anne Scheetz, a Chicago-area doctor, is dedicated to single-payer health care as the only pragmatic solution for the nation’s health care problems.

A member of Physicians for a National Health Care Progam and its Illinois chapter, Health Care for All Illinois, Scheetz is the Chicago co-chairmanl of Illinois Single Payer Coalition.

“I’ve been in practice for more than 25 years and I’ve watched the health care system collapse around me, and really I’m ashamed. I’m ashamed to be an American physician,” Scheetz told a small group at a Wednesday night event sponsored by Illinois Valley Center for Independent Living.

The shame hits when she’s waiting for appointments with her own doctor, or taking her mother to the eye doctor, and seeing people with Medicaid or with no insurance get refused treatment, or when she herself has to turn down a patient whose Medicaid does not cover home visits.

Single-payer health care means all health care services are billed to the government and paid with funds collected from taxpayers. Under such a system, everyone in the country would have access to health care, regardless of income.

Scheetz said it’s a social justice issue. Members of the movement rally behind the slogans, “Everybody in, nobody out” and “One nation, one plan.”

“We consider ourselves to be in the tradition of the great human rights movements — the abolition of slavery, votes for women, civil rights, all of those… We cannot live in a country where some people make billions of dollars out of depriving people of medical care and leaving them homeless from their medical bills,” Scheetz said. “I think the single-payer people are pragmatists. We’re sometimes accused of being ‘pie-in-the-sky’ers. It’s pie in the sky to say you can regulate the insurance industry,” Scheetz said.

Sheetz and her husband, Jim Rhodes, said the current system hurts employers and municipalities, too, because of the amount they have to pay for employees or retirees. She pointed to the financial trouble at large companies such as GM and Caterpillar, which she said involves the high cost of health care for union employees. Jim said municipalities, for whom employee benefits are often a heavy burden, could benefit from a single-payer system, too.