Debating healthcare: Two perspectives

By Reuters Staff
September 9, 2009

As part of Reuters’ coverage of the U.S. healthcare reform, asked Peter J. Pitts, president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest and Stephen M. Davidson, a Boston University School of Management professor to discuss the issue. Here are their responses.


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Thank you everyone for the thoughtful comments. It appears that you are considering all of the logical fallacies that are so common in this debate. I see no reference to “Death Panels” in here which is a huge relief. This idea is so distorted and detached from reality that is only serving as a straw man to distract us from thoughtful debate between many different persepectives.

I enjoyed Benny Acosta and Anon’s exchange and I saw value in each perspective. I am happy to see that neither person started off with telling us which political party they are in. This would likely lead to pre-conceived ideas about the person which would muddy the debate. I wish everyone could converse in this manner.

Posted by Abby | Report as abusive

I suspect that a large plurality of voters has come to understand that all past congresses and administrations have failed consistently and seriously in launching and managing major federal programs — Social Security, the War on Poverty, Medicare, Medicaid — and so the majority of voters do not trust that a sweeping new government program will actually improve things.

We need Health Care reform without question, but the struggles we are all seeing in the Senate and the House — to fashion a Health Care bill that actually improves upon what we already have, while cutting costs — simply demonstrates how complex the issue of Health Care is, and how starkly divergent the agendas are among far left and far right constituencies.

Congress should back off from the current attempts to create an all new “global” health care program at the expense of the existing coverage that some 80-85 percent of Americans enjoy today. They should instead concentrate on eliminating existing problems in Medicare and Medicaid, while extending some reasonable level of Health care to the 10-15 percent of American citizens who currently have inadequate health care insurance.

Once real progress can be demonstrated on these limited initiatives, Congress should then proceed to incrementally add further legislation that could meet with bi-partisan support.

President Obama should back off on his sweeping approach to Health Care, no matter how well-intentioned, and use the power of his office to lead Congress to a series of interim measures, as described above.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

Why can’t we vote for National Health Insurance? Single Payer, Medicare for All. Why is there a few Americans making the decisions for all of us? Those people were given bribe money by the Insurance companies. Something as important as healthcare should be given a vote, and the options should include National Healthcare.

Posted by Christine biedul | Report as abusive

Maybe if we were a lot healthier we wouldn’t have these issues

Posted by Drake | Report as abusive

Adrian R is correct. Public services are generally paid for by taxpayers. Health care is presently entirely supported by taxpayers–premiums, out of pocket, deductibles, wages lost to employer-paid premiums, VA, care of active military, Medicare, Medicaid, government employees, ER costs for the uninsured and the indigent. And we spend almost twice what other developed countries spend per capita. And about 30% of your healthcare premium, when paid to private insurers, goes to shareholder profit and administrative costs. If that money were available to provide health care instead we wouldn’t have to increase health care spending over what we spend now! Single payer is what we need, providing what the Institute of Medicine says we need–universal, available, portable, affordable insurance. Whether or not you think health care is a right (and I do), it is shortsighted to deny it to a portion of the public. We need a healthy productive workforce, and we need infection control for all (it’s not possible for just some).
It is distressing that it has been dismissed for so many months as “not feasible”. Only “not feasible” to insurance and drug companies. Very feasible to the American public.
Let’s keep it on the table

Li-hsia Wang, MD

Posted by Li-hsia Wang, MD | Report as abusive

It doesn’t take a genius to see the funding for government health care is a sham. When has any project by any facet of government been equal or less in cost than proposed?

What about the government taking money from Social Security (grabbing initiated by Lyndon Johnson) to fund other things non-related projects? Anyone who has ever dealt with VA hospitals or worker’s compensation programs have been screwed by the system.

One example of how terrible the system is: My sister-in-law fell at work and hurt her back. She has been in excruciating pain for the past six months. Doctors said she needed an operation to correct the problem. Worker’s Compensation repeatedly denying her operation until recently. They finally approved the operation, again after six months! She could have been back to work at least 4 months prior! Talk about a waste of money!

The government has spent $640 for a toilet seat and $436 for a hammer and the National Park Service’s $797,400 outhouse. This is the sort of mindless spending the government has.

Yes, we need health care changes, but not run by government. Politicians are not business savvy, but they are great spenders!

It grossly unfair to take hunderds of billions of dollars from Medicare in order to fund the currently uninsured.
One does not need new laws to fight the waste and fraud in Medicare/Medicaid systems – they are administered by the government anyway.
If anything, the savings from reducing the waste ought to be channeled back into Medicare to cope with the expected inflow of baby boomers into the system.
It is grossly illogical to allocate less funds for Medicare to cope with many more eldery people. Something is terribly wrong with Obama’s math, or is there some hidden agenda?

Posted by Benjamin | Report as abusive

I agree with Peter Pitts. We appear to be trying to use a sledge hammer where a light tap hammer would do well.
Bigger is not usually better and, in this case, would ultimately lead to increased costs for health insurance and corresponding tax increases to help defray those costs.

Children of poor working families and others should be covered. As of today healthcare is impossible without insurance because of the unbundling of services and items and the cost of ER is inflated it would be Like paying 100.00 for a toothpick. But insurance companies do not guarantee they will cover anything even when you pay insurance. The government would do a better job I think of paying the bills. Tax can be added or taken from cigarettes or alcohol,

Posted by ForJS07M378 | Report as abusive