Health Care: The Debate, Boiled Down

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So much has been written and debated about health care over the last few days that it’s hard to think straight. Here are ten snippets from columnists, doctors, editorial pages, bloggers, politicians, and everyday people that make important points—ones that very well might get overlooked while the political battle rages on.
The American Medical Association (AMA) position:
“Make no mistake: The American Medical Association is committed to health reform that covers the uninsured this year. Every American deserves affordable, high-quality health care, and the AMA is calling for reforms that build on what works and fixes what’s broken.” This—after officially coming out against a public health option.

The NYT editorial page:
“Doctors have been complicit in driving up health care costs. They need to become part of the solution.”

From the Huffington Post, in a piece written by a doctor explaining why he could no longer be a member of the AMA:
“The AMA represents a physician-centered and self-interested perspective rather than honoring the altruistic nature of my profession.”

A Times letter to the editor:
“In the United States we sell medical services the way we sell automobile repairs. Your mechanic makes a living from the valve job, not from the discussion about whether or not it will make your car run better. And the insurance payment your doctor will get from a helpful discussion about how you can stay healthy probably doesn’t cover office expenses.”

From the BBC:
“A lot of powerful interests have a lot to lose.”

From The Daily Beast:
“America’s unique employer-based health-care system may have made sense 50 years ago, when health care was cheap, U.S. business faced little global competition, and fending off socialism was a Cold War priority. Today, though, despite radically changed circumstances, corporate America remains caught in a time warp in its attitude toward government.”

Atul Gawande, New Yorker staff writer and doctor, in a commencement address to the University of Chicago Medical School:
“Our country’s health care is by far the most expensive in the world. It now consumes more than one of every six dollars we earn. The financial burden has damaged the global competitiveness of American businesses and bankrupted millions of families, even those with insurance. It’s also devouring our government at every level—squeezing out investments in education, our infrastructure, energy development, our future. … The public doesn’t know what do about it. The government doesn’t know. The insurance companies don’t know.”

“Influential senators working to overhaul the nation’s health care system have investments and family ties with some of the biggest names in the industry.”

A NYT columnist:
“In truth, rationing is an inescapable part of economic life. It is the process of allocating scarce resources. Even in the United States, the richest society in human history, we are constantly rationing. We ration spots in good public high schools. We ration lakefront homes. We ration the best cuts of steak and wild-caught salmon. Health care, I realize, seems as if it should be different. But it isn’t. Already, we cannot afford every form of medical care that we might like. So we ration.”

Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf:
“There’s tremendous potential to reap savings in the health sector without harming health, but turning that potential into reality is challenging. It’s going to be a long, hard slog.”