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Letter: Affordable health care is achievable

With the rising cost of medical insurance and health care, we know that many Americans are struggling. And neither the medical community nor the feds have ever shown the least interest in a nationalized system as provided in Canada, the UK and elsewhere. There may be various reasons for this, but basically, profit consistently Trumps the needs of people. Please forgive my humorless pun.

In a recent letter to the PVT, Jim Ferrell suggested that medical costs might be lowered by a system similar to that used by our armed forces. I would not disagree, and we might also explore another approach.

Since every state in the union is essentially sovereign, they all must generate operating revenue by way of taxation. To function within its jurisdiction, the states also license every component of the medical community, i.e., physicians, hospitals, clinics, pharmaceutical companies and pharmacies. Thus it falls to state governments to enforce professional standards, and reason suggests that professional standards should include measures to contain cost while providing necessary health care for every citizen. There’s no better time than now to move forward on this front.

(1) Residents, including most retirees, indigent persons and others with income below a given threshold, should possess a state-issued medical ID that authorizes access to needed care, regardless of ability to pay. Additional support from Medicare is essential. Those with incomes above the threshold are obliged to purchase adequate health insurance. In such a system, eligibility must be verified and it’s imperative that we avoid waste, fraud and abuse.

(2) To sustain state-funded medical care will necessarily require higher taxes from corporations, the business community in general and individuals with incomes above a given threshold. For corporations and small businesses, the process might prove less complicated and possibly more cost-effective than the current model. Even now there are corporations that contract with doctors or clinics to provide “in-house” medical services.

(3) All states maintain some degree of medical oversight. But in a system as proposed, every physician must be held strictly accountable with respect to writing prescriptions, dispensing sample medications, admitting patients to hospitals and recommending surgical procedures.

State-managed health care is feasible, but would demand uncompromising adherence to efficiency, integrity, and yes, compassion. Perhaps if enough of us petition the governor and Legislature, Nevada might one day lead America in bringing about affordable health care for everyone.

Ralph Bazan

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