Healthcare according to Ralph Nader

Dorothy Guellec


Nader is the only candidate who supports Universal Healthcare for all as a human

right. Health, not merely illness should be a public concern. We could save at

least $36 billion a years if we had a "paperless hospital system." As

Business Week reported recently we could save just by using electronic

communication for transmitting patient data. The health sector makes up about

14% of the GNP, but only 1 to 2% of the budget is spent on information

technology. Banks spend 10%. Physicians and health professionals spend more than

50% of their time dealing with tasks that have no direct use for the patient.

One can imagine what would happen in the U.S. if we eliminated all intermediate

levels, doing away with these unnecessary costs. In addition, we would have to

get rid of the profit motive, which puts stockholders first in order to satisfy

the bottom line.


U.S. is the only developed country without universal access to healthcare. A

vote for Ralph Nader would start us on the way towards a new, equitable system.

According to American Medical News for July 24, 2000 there is a

"malaise" spreading through American medicine. A recent set of focus

groups involving physicians on problems and problem solving unveiled an alarming

expression of rage, skepticism and hopelessness. These doctors felt embattled.

They were loath to trust any solutions for their problems. The sources of

frustrations were many: financial, legal, professional and personal. In the

climate of managed care doctors are denied the sense of achievement they

expected from their practice.


patients now corporate clients? Jamie Court who wrote the recent book

"Making a Killing – HMO’s and the threat to your health" wrote

recently that "the announcement by United Health group, the nation’s second

largest health plan, that it will sell hundreds of thousands of its California

patients to Blue Shield is much more than an innocuous business maneuver."

The phrase "corporate chattel" is a very apt description of how

patients are now viewed by managed care. The sale of "covered lives"

as patients are now called, without the sale of a company, a bankruptcy, or

merger turns patients into commodities. It sounds very much like Wall Street.


US is slipping so far and so fast behind industrialized countries. It is

happening every day and understandably people are frightened by the changes

taking place. Decision-making has been quietly co-opted by

"bioethics", a genre of philosophical discourse practiced by an elite

group of academics, philosophers, lawyers, and physicians, many of whom are

openly hostile to the sanctity of life and the Hippocratic traditions that most

people still take for granted. This is all about money, not ethics. Who lives

and who dies prematurely is governed by how many dollars are available.


US would fare better according to Ralph Nader by adopting in theory and practice

the Canadian model. Their system provides universal, accessible, portable,

comprehensive care at reasonable cost through a public insurance scheme. This

provincially administered system allows for flexibility, as well as choices for

patients and providers. Physicians remain free to bill the provinces for

services. This is not socialized medicine as some critics have charged. The

federal government raises funds and then distributes these funds to the

provinces. Since the Canada Health Act was initiated 30 years ago patients have

not been billed. There is a whole generation that has grown up with this system

in place. It is successful in part because the middle layer of administrative

bureaucracy, so costly to maintain, does not exist. This system provides for

planning to avoid unnecessary duplication and limitation to access. It enjoys

more support from citizens than can be claimed by the health care in the US.


W. Bush and Albert Gore are not calling for an end to managed care – Ralph Nader

is. He is calling for action, which makes clear that health care, should be a

right, not a privilege. Ralph Nader supports (1) Informed Consent Laws to

educate consumers to potential health impacts (2) Primary Care through a renewed

attention to family medicine as opposed to medical specialization (3) the right

of a woman to control her own body (4) medical research and an increase in its

funding (5) adequate social and health services for those who have special needs

(6) wider implementation of hospice care and (6) an all out campaign against



Nader condemns HIV discrimination and would make drug treatment and other

programs available for all addicts who seek help and would expand clinical

trials for treatments and vaccines and speed up the FDA drug approval process.


vote for Nader is not a wasted one. Just think What Republican worth his salt

would allow Roe v. Wade to disappear from the American landscape? That would be

political suicide. Vote for the issues, not for some imagined scenarios of who

might be on the Supreme Court bench in years to come. Your health is too

important right now!




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