A health-care system that serves people, not corporate profits

January 05, 2012

As we enter the fourth year of an economic collapse and witness the remarkable emergence of "people power" across the country and around the world, the current crisis can be seen as an opportunity. Rather than rebuild the old status quo we should build smart, since all our societal problems are interrelated.

Building smart means restructuring the health care system to serve the needs of people and their communities rather than to serve corporate profits. Because so many Americans' health care is tied to their jobs, when they lose those jobs their families' health care goes with them.

Writer Barbara Ehrenreich says we don't have a safety net in this country, we have a greased chute. We spend more on health care than any other country in the world but get less for it every year. Meanwhile, corporate health care profits are soaring.

We can do better. For-profit health insurance adds nothing to heath care except costs. Every other developed country has already figured this out. A universal single-payer system would allow us to redirect health care to what promotes health rather than what makes money.

With 60 million Americans uninsured we need a way out that is just and fair, and we already have the resources to achieve that goal. All we lack is the political will to do so. Vermont passed a single-payer initiative, and Maryland can, too. This can be the year in which we can rebuild an economy that works for all our people.

Dr. John F. Irwin

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