Story omitted exchange on single payer

By David Ray, M.D.
Times Union (Albany, N.Y.), Nov. 25, 2013

I believe the article on Uwe Reinhardt's lecture at the University at Albany had a glaring omission ("Website failure carries high risk," Nov. 20). I attended this talk, and the first question posed to Mr. Reinhardt was "what about single-payer health care?" He responded by revealing that he consulted with the government of Taiwan when they chose to overhaul their system in 1995, and he facilitated their adoption of a single-payer system.

Mr. Reinhardt went on to describe a simple system with universal access, seamless and transportable care, smart card access and other features that he characterized as "a dream system." The United States health care stands 37th, Taiwan is ranked fifth.

So what stands between the United States and such a sensible system? Political will is lacking and, frankly, that means that our legislators lack the backbone to stand up to the dollar power of the lobbyists and monied interests like the private insurance industry.

Mr. Reinhardt suggested the only solution in this country is to move forward by individual states or communities. That works well in a place like Albany, which has few hospitals, benevolent insurance companies, and low unemployment.

But what about the cities and states that have no inclination or means to care for the underserved and that rank low in population health? Is it: "Sorry, every man (or city, or state) for itself?" That doesn't seem like any way to run a country.

There are numerous single-payer advocacy groups active in the Capital Region. For the future of our children and our country, everyone should join one, learn the facts, and make himself or herself heard.

David Ray, M.D., is Coordinator, Capital District Chapter, Physicians for a National Health Plan. He lives in Menands.

PNHP note: This letter originally appeared under the headline "Everyone has a health care voice."