A ‘greater good’

By Elizabeth Frost, M.D.
The Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.), Letters, June 30, 2012

I think it is interesting that the Supreme Court has upheld the idea that the individual mandate as a tax is constitutional. What does this mean? First of all, it means that we as a nation have decided that health care is a “greater good” -- that everybody deserves health care. Second, we have decided that everyone pays in to health care. We have already decided to do this in Medicare, but now we are extending the concept to everyone.

The next step as a society is to decide how best to meet everyone’s health care needs. Unfortunately, the Affordable Care Act does not do that well; it leaves 25 million Americans, at least, without health care and many more paying too much. It turns out that our for-profit, inefficient system based on private insurance is not a good way to provide health care for all, and that Medicare is much more efficient. What if we tried Medicare for All in a state first? That way a state could be a “laboratory” for more comprehensive reform. Of course, Medicare for All would be constitutional, as it is also a tax.

We need to keep moving beyond the Affordable Care Act and work to establish a just, equitable and universal health system; maybe Minnesota will lead the way.

Dr. Elizabeth Frost of Minneapolis is a physician at Hennepin County Medical Center.