On Monday, Feb. 24 in Higley Hall Auditorium the Kenyon Young Democratic Socialists of America (KYDSA) hosted a town hall discussion about Medicare for All. The event featured Dr. Jonathon Ross, the former president of the Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), a nonprofit advocacy group of physicians, medical students and health professionals.
The town hall concluded with a Q&A session, in which students asked for clarification about the points made and shared their own opinions. Some shared stories that conveyed their dissatisfaction with the current system while others inquired about the details of a single-payer system. With the issue of healthcare occupying a place of prominence in the upcoming election, the talk acted as an informative platform for the political climate.
Dr. Ross, a longtime Toledo-based physician, explained how the nature of his work led him to embrace a single-payer system. He specifically mentioned his experiences with Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), networks of private insurance providers that restrict coverage to doctors under their contracts, which rose to prominence during the late 1980s.
“Working [with] the insurance industry [between the 1980s and 1990s], it became pretty clear that there was no good work to be done in the [private sector].” Ross told the Collegian. “It was a race to the bottom in terms of ethics.”
The HMOs had been designed to limit the amount of medical coverage they offered customers, emphasizing economic benefits over expanse of coverage and quality of care. Such conditions led Ross to seek out other alternatives, eventually coming across an article written in the New England Journal of Medicine by a number of medical professionals that concluded the most apt solution for the health insurance dilemma was a single-payer system which would provide expanded medical care to all. This belief is reflected in his advice to aspiring medical students.
“[I encourage them to consider] if they want to work in a system where, during every single decision with a patient, there’s some insurance bureaucrat who’s never looked at [the patient] personally looking over their shoulder and second-guessing every procedure they have to do.” Ross said. “The bane of the [current] system is its complexity.”
Through the presentation, Ross framed the issue of healthcare as an ethical one, with the first slide he presented displaying variations of the “golden rule” that have been adopted by a myriad of world religions. He used this example to highlight the contrast between such teachings and a profit-based system of healthcare, where the money tends to flow overwhelmingly in the direction of providers. He elucidated his position on a single-payer system by displaying statistics that demonstrated the poor performance of the American healthcare system relative to other systems that place sustaining life over maximizing profits.