Need a real discussion on humane, cost-effective health care system

By William M. Fogarty Jr., M.D.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Letters, Oct. 6, 2015

In his article ("Again? Health Care Debate Expands for 2016," online Oct. 2) Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar outlines the three approaches that the various candidates for the presidential nomination offer on health care. They range from the single-payer approach espoused by Bernie Sanders, through the middle ground basically supporting the status quo offered by Hillary Clinton, to the "repeal and replace" position of the Republican contenders. Unfortunately, the Republicans offer no details of their replacement and also attack Medicare and Medicaid, which serve some 100 million Americans, without offering a viable alternative.

The writer states that the single-payer option would call for "a massive tax increase" not allowing for the fact that that increase would be more than offset by replacing the premiums now paid to insurance companies and the $400 billion that would be saved in administrative costs and insurance company profits, not to mention the savings in drug and device costs that would result from competitive purchasing.

Hopefully, we will move beyond the circus we are now enduring in the Republican primary run-up to a real discussion of the issues important to this country. Among those is how we are going to craft a humane, cost-effective, high-quality heath care system that serves everyone. Among the options being discussed, the single-payer system is the only one with the potential to fulfill that goal.

Dr. William M. Fogarty Jr. resides in Webster Groves.