At a recent CNN Town Hall meeting, Senator Kamala Harris was asked about how she would bring quality, affordable healthcare to all Americans. She replied that Medicare for All (M4A) would be the solution to fix the sad state of American healthcare. She was also asked if that would mean that all the private insurance companies would be eliminated. She said there was no reason for the insurance companies to be the ones that authorize or reject a treatment or intervention that a qualified physician recommends to his or her patient.
As a neurosurgeon who has been in the medical field for 23 years (and deals with the frustrating authorization process imposed on doctors by the profit oriented and unnecessary middlemen known as health insurance companies on a daily basis), I am in 100% agreement with her answer. Here is the reason: Imagine your car gets sick and you take it to a mechanic. The mechanic diagnoses the problem and says it costs $100 to fix it. Meanwhile a middle man insurance company says, “Wait! Give me $125. I will pay the mechanic $100 and will keep the $25 as administrative costs.” You wouldn’t pay that extra $25 to that unnecessary middle man, would you? Why then, would you need the unnecessary middlemen health insurance companies?
Mr. Howard Schultz, the billionaire CEO of Starbucks who is considering a bid as an independent for the presidency of the United States, said that elimination of the private health insurance companies would be “un-American.” He also said, in a recent CNN interview with Poppy Harlow, that Medicare for All is “unaffordable.” Another billionaire, Michael Bloomberg agreed about the cost for M4A. Billionaires apparently think alike. Even though Mr. Schultz has become a successful businessman selling coffee around the world and Bloomberg with his immense financial empire, I am not sure how much they understand the complex business of American healthcare delivery.
Mr. Schultz said that he believes he understands healthcare very well, and that the issue is close to his heart. His claim for the knowledge he possesses about health care is based on his provision of comprehensive healthcare to his employees. I commend his compassion but that compassion is no match for the greed of pharmaceutical and health insurance companies, hospital administrations, and device manufacturer companies. These special interests all lobby, control, and dictate the current healthcare policy in America. Mr. Schultz seems to believe that just because he provides healthcare benefits to his employees in his private business, he believes he has a better way to provide healthcare for all Americans than a national Medicare for All policy. Apparently that “better way” would be to tell the CEOs of corporations and businesses in America to do what he did for Starbucks employees; be compassionate and provide healthcare benefits to the employees. He thinks they will follow his example.
Good luck with that!
I am perplexed by Mr. Schultz’s belief that appealing to the corporations to be compassionate will solve the very serious problem Americans face with having our healthcare delivered through for-profit intermediaries. It is hard for me to believe that Mr. Schultz could be that naive. He must be aware that the shareholder economy in America doesn’t give a damn about compassion. The majority of corporations are all about the bottom line and making as much profit as possible for their shareholders. He thinks that, as an independently elected president, he would control the special interests in the healthcare industry. Looks like he has not been watching what’s going on with the presidency of President Trump. Like Mr. Schultz, Mr. Trump is an independent billionaire, but one who has failed to accomplish any meaningful reform in the healthcare delivery that would provide quality, affordable healthcare to all Americans.
In spite of being a businessman Mr. Schultz doesn’t seem to understand that the “business of America is business,” and that business is only concerned with creating profit for shareholders. The chance of the greedy millionaire and billionaire CEOs of pharmaceutical, private insurance, device manufacturer and hospital industries following Mr. Schultz’s example and foregoing their annual salaries, bonuses and stock options that are worth millions, if not billions, is almost zero.
I am uncertain what imaginary utopian healthcare dream Mr. Schultz is dreaming of! He definitely needs to wake up and look around and see the healthcare policies perpetuated by the corrupt political system, beholden to the greedy and very powerful healthcare special interests.