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Can Americans Repair the Healthcare System?

Posted Sep 22 2008 4:36pm


Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

I believe Americans can repair the healthcare system. I received a comment that said,


Your solutions are clearly the most ideal but, I think, unrealistic.  We would have to educate the consumer very quickly and that isn't likely to succeed in the near future.”

I do not agree. As a nation Americans can do it with appropriate leadership. Great leadership would inspire our government to create a cultural change that can stimulate and motivate consumers to learn very quickly. I do not believe change necessarily succeeds in a gradual fashion.

In his new book, “Hot, Flat and Crowded”, Thomas Friedman nails the mechanism of change in his first few pages.

“America is at its most powerful and most influential when it is combing innovation and inspiration, wealth building and dignity building, the quest for big profits and the tackling of big problems. When we do just one, we are less than the sum of our parts. When we do both, we are greater than the sum of our parts- much greater” Thomas Friedman

Thomas Friedman’s opening statement applies to many areas of policy in our society. Policy decisions include energy, environment, transportation, public education, immigration and medical care, to name a few. Gradual change results in an adjustment by vested interests to cripple the original goal of the change.

The Presidential candidates have touched on each policy area with sound bytes. Neither has outlined a plan that combines each couplet of Friedman’s to make America greater than the some of its parts. Inspiring Americans to have self respect and self responsibility with a motivational carrot of money could result in rapid change. Instead, the candidates are embattled in discrediting each other for media attention. They are not defining the issues or proposing solutions.

An example that reverberates in my mind is John McCain’s acceptance speech. He said he was going to fight for us, fight terrorism, fight for the economy, fight for medical care and fight for a lot of other things. He did not tell us what policies he is going to fight for. He did not tell us who he is going to fight for whom. His handlers obviously disrespect our intelligence and ability to think. They think we are incapable of asking the critical questions. Who is going to fight and how is his fighting going to help us as individuals and as a nation? In healthcare he is going to fight to get rid of the Medicare entitlement. He is going to feed the healthcare insurance industry’s quest for big profits and not tackle the big problems with big ideas. I have presented big ideas for the repair of the healthcare system and with the appropriate leadership Americans can be stimulated to respond.

There is no inspiration or reward for innovative thinking. There is the probability of wealth building for the healthcare insurance industry without dignity building for Americans in John McCain's healthcare plan. Thomas Friedman is correct in declaring that by combining the couplets America can be greater than the sum of its parts. If we focus on only one side of his couplets the result is less that the sum of its parts.

Leadership inspiring cultural change and innovative thinking about changing the healthcare system in a way that respects the average citizen’s intelligence and has empathy for the less fortunate without decreasing dignity is what we need in a leader. We have plenty of smart Americans who can focus on the big picture. but the big picture does not create an exciting enough story for the media. However, by focusing on the big picture we would start creating solutions to our problems.

The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone.

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