Go forward on health care — to single-payer

By Melissa Stiles, M.D.
The Capital Times (Madison, Wis.), Letters, Jan. 26, 2017

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhuman.”

Health care is a human right for all and not a privilege for a few and this tenet should be at the core of every health care reform discussion. I am opposed to the reckless repeal of the Affordable Care Act without a proven and tested alternative. Although it did not go far enough, the ACA addressed many of the inadequacies of the for-profit health insurance system and has expanded health care to millions of Americans.

Now, we face a Congress and president who promise to repeal the ACA and drastically change Medicaid and Medicare, which have provided vital health care for millions of Americans. They would return to the failed policies of the past in which for-profit insurance companies called the shots, denied care when you got sick or had a pre-existing disease, and pushed exorbitant costs to patients. Removing access to care and shifting more costs onto the backs of people who cannot afford it could lead to loss of health care coverage for up to 30 million Americans and 400,000 Wisconsinites.

As doctors, we take an oath to put the health of our patients and communities first and to “do no harm.” I call on our legislators to do the same.

Our nation has made progress towards the goal of universal health care. We need further health care reform, but we cannot go backward. Going forward, our aim is a high quality and truly affordable health care system for all Americans. It is time for a single-payer health care system that would accomplish this goal.

Dr. Melissa Stiles resides in Madison.