Regional health care approach is needed

By Alan A. Pfeffer and Richard Propp
Letters, Albany (N.Y.) Times Union, March 9, 2012

The Feb. 26 articles "State to reclaim patients" and "Superior care comes at a cost" demonstrate one of the misdirections taken by the state Medicaid Redesign Team.

The state knew that the needs of people on ventilators, people suffering from traumatic brain injuries and people with Huntington's disease could not be met by the nursing homes within the state. Instead of first creating the needed special units that are required, it decided to try and "repatriate" them back into regular nursing homes.

This was done at the request of the Healthcare Association of New York State, a lobbying organization, so its clients will have a greater stream of business. We argue that people are not business commodities.

This situation would not exist if we had a national single-payer health care system where all people, regardless of their age, employment status or disability, have access to long-term care.

Plans for this were published by the Physicians for a National Health Program 20 years ago. Their plan called for a right to long-term care, universal coverage and a continuum of social and medical services aimed at maximizing functional independence.

The entire population would finance it. Instead, we are burdened with state rivalries rather than what we need, regional interstate consortiums.

Alan A. Pfeffer of Glenmont and Richard Propp of Albany are members of the Capital District Alliance for Universal Healthcare Inc.