Health Care: California model

(as posted in Seattle Times Letters, May 4, 2017; print edition May 5, 2017)

California’s proposed single payer health plan is the way to heal our medical system, whose profit motive opposes a doctor honoring her promise to “first do no harm.”

An example is Talia Goldenberg's heartbreaking story. In one of the highest-revenue hospitals in the country, Swedish Cherry Hill, where her surgeon generated $76 million in one year’s billings, Talia died for lack of attention in the Intensive Care Unit. The staff did nothing about her post-surgery breathing problem, which a routine procedure could have solved. As Talia suffered fatal neglect, hospital billings undoubtedly continued to receive full attention.

Health-care providers have become like predatory lenders who primarily see patients as business opportunities and only secondarily as sick people in need of care. Doctors and nurses may be trying their best, and I’m one who believes they are, but the system makes it almost impossible to give good care. The profit incentive that’s overtaken the highly lucrative medical industry is not only unworkable for caregivers, it is unethical, and wrong.

California has a good plan to fix that. We should do the same.

Mark Lundsten, Anacortes