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Responding to ‘Not a Ponzi Scheme’

To the Editor:

Thanks for printing Mr. Hall’s letter [“Not a Ponzi scheme,” Mid Rivers Newsmagazine, May 3] pointing out that a healthcare free market does not exist because both supply and demand are controlled by “The Combine” [my term, not Mr. Hall’s, for insurance companies, pharmaceutical producers and distributors, together with for-profit hospitals and providers]. “Ponzi scheme” makes a good sound bite but is completely inappropriate for a system that has provided millions of Americans with billions in Medicare benefits for more than 50 years.

I would add another observation not often mentioned: the negative impact of employer-sponsored healthcare, which continues to siphon away billions of dollars that would otherwise add to corporate investments, profits and payrolls, all while diverting management and personnel talent away from what a company does best – creation, production and sale of products at a profit. This is especially problematical when we recognize that decades of costly and inept management of employer-provided healthcare is largely responsible for the disastrous runaway inflation within the healthcare economy.

The roots of today’s healthcare economy go back to WWII and FDR’s Office of Price Administration [OPA], the agency responsible for wage and price controls aimed at preventing the wartime economic boom [rapidly full employment, enormous amounts of new cash and debt] from overwhelming America’s emergence from The Great Depression’s monstrous unemployment and shortages of financial resources. That is when The Combine put into the field an army of its own: skilled and expensive lobbyists and ad men, who, to this day, control the best Congress money can buy, and con both the general public and corporate America into believing that defending a fictitious healthcare “free market” against the greatest government in human history is preferable to using that government to provide alternatives to expensive chaotic and inefficient healthcare systems, which have been unable to protect all citizens against a relentless and formidable enemy – namely, sickness and injury.

Except for the USA, companies across the range of postwar industrial nations of the world have focused on what they do best while leaving it to governments to provide single-payer healthcare coverage to help make them more competitive, especially against U.S. companies distracted by the healthcare needs of employees.

It is impossible for any healthcare system involving trillions of dollars and millions of stakeholders [patients, providers, manufacturers, insurance companies and government] to be perfect. But decades of success and periodic improvements, including finding ways to work with private insurance companies on some aspects of coverage [e.g., extended services in the U.K., Medicare Advantage Plans in the U.S.] show that single-payer is the only workable and affordable way to cover everyone. The so-called “free market” could not do it, Obamacare doesn’t do it and Trumpcare won’t do it.

Medicare for all will do it.

Bill Howard

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