Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Mike & Friends Blog

Donna Smith

Donna Smith, American SiCKO, is executive director of the Health Care for All Colorado Foundation

March 14th, 2010 4:34 PM

When Patients Own the System: A Progressively Financed, Single Standard of Care for All

The national legislative healthcare fix that may be passed by the 111th Congress and then signed by President Obama will do little to relieve the stresses felt by most patients in this country. The steady decline most of us have seen in the kind of quality medical services we need is not likely to be mitigated. Insurance companies will grow ever stronger and more deeply ensconced, and the patient voice will fade more quickly from prominence than it has in recent years.

Patients have been props in this discussion. Patients are widgets in an economic system. Patients are an annoyance to insurance companies who worry about the medical losses (claims) as a loss of profit and often even to providers who must carefully screen patients to make sure they come with profit potential via their insurance coverage or very deep pockets full of cash for payment. Pesky patients.

And nothing – nothing – in the current legislation disrupts this process from deepening.

The results are mind boggling and devoid of any ethical grounding which would lead anyone to believe that healthcare is a human right in America.

I know scores of patients – people who need medical care – who tell me about their personal journeys. They are often shuffled from provider to provider getting whatever medical tests or procedures are approved by their insurance companies while not receiving even one stitch of treatment or relief for the issue that brought them to seek care. The money flows; the patient is not treated. Maybe a pill. Maybe.

The practice of medicine has long ago shifted away from being a patient-centered art and science, from the perspective of most patients I know. Most providers spend very little hands on time with patients and even less listening time. Nothing about forcing the purchase of private, for-profit insurance will change that reality. And finding that one or two providers who still care enough to try to provide kind and compassionate patient care is a daunting and long process for most patients I know. Most give up and just get care when they have to and put up with being treated as an annoyance, an irritation in a system that just wants to take more and more profit with less and less contact with the patients who generate that profit.

The costs of that shift form the practice of medicine to the profit-taking of the medical business is enormous both in dollars and cents and in human decency. People spend long days and weeks and months seeking a medical home – somewhere that they can trust to provide the right care at the right time with just a touch of kindness instead of the nasty, condescending atmosphere so many patients endure just trying to make appointments, get test results or God-forbid ask a question over the phone.

I know a seriously ill person who has at least five different providers. Yet this patient is slowly wasting away while begging someone, anyone to take his symptoms seriously. Not one of the providers has an appointment time in anything less than five or six weeks – and all have office staffs that grow angry if questioned about that wait. No one on the other end of the phone wonders what is making the patient feel bad or even suggests a way for some earlier treatment. Not one provider who has made thousands of dollars on this patient’s behalf cares enough to want to find out how they can help. The providers simply have all the revenue streams they need coming through the door so one patient’s life and one patient’s suffering doesn’t matter much in the scheme of things.

Nothing in the reform bill will interrupt this hideous and relentless process for many patients. You simply cannot legislate a system drunk on money and massive profits to care about patients. We, the people, need to control the system – our money, our system, our lives. Nothing but a progressively financed, single standard of high quality care should be allowed. It should be a crime to do less.

The U.S. healthcare system represents more than 16 percent of the gross domestic product. That’s a huge chunk of the economic energy of this nation. That’s going to get bigger and bigger in the years going forward. And as the financial linkages and economic impact of the system grows, the patients’ individual significance will continue to lose ground. It’s simply a numbers game.

My biggest worry is that the diminishment of caring and compassion will accelerate that has escalated in recent years with managed care and for-profit insurance driving medical decisions and therefore medical profits and therefore how providers really treat patients.

We, the people, must own this system or it will own us. Public, progressive financing of a single standard of high quality care is the only way to protect patients from the abuses.

I remember days not so very long ago when patients were treated so very differently. We’re never going back to those days but we’d better stop the trending. Patients need to band together, share information about provider practices and take a stand together – it must be our system. Or the profit-takers will make their fortunes ever larger on our suffering and pain and never look back for an instant.

You must log in to comment.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Log in | Register

Time to put the cuffs on Chris Christie -- not for the bridge scandal, but for this: Chris Christie's $300m pension proposal broke state anti-corruption...

Apr 18th
7:31 PM
Read More

George W. Bush Debuts New Paintings Of Dogs, Friends, Ghost Of Iraqi Child That Follows Him... www.theonion.com President Bush has a new hobby -- painting! --...

Apr 17th
7:28 PM
Read More

Big new story from David Sirota and Pando on top Christie adviser and appearance of corruption at New Jersey's pension fund: REVEALED: Gov....

Apr 17th
12:41 PM
Read More

FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States www.theonion.com WASHINGTON—The FBI announced today that it has uncovered a...

Apr 15th
3:28 PM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel's top donor bought stock in Marriott just before it was awarded huge contract pando.com As schools are closed and pensions cut,...

Apr 9th
2:00 PM
Read More

I'll be at First Time Fest today in New York City at the screening of my first film, Roger & Me. Loews Village 7 at 12:30 pm. Come see it on the big...

Apr 5th
9:48 AM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel cuts public pensions, diverts money to benefit campaign donors pando.com If you've read the financial news out of Chicago the last...

Apr 4th
2:19 PM
Read More

Please take a moment today to think of Casey Austin Sheehan, son of Cindy and Patrick, who was murdered by U.S. foreign policy in Sadr City, Baghdad ten years...

Apr 4th
2:00 PM
Read More

ICYMI - I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence...

Apr 3rd
7:38 PM
Read More

I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention...

Apr 2nd
8:27 PM
Read More

I am opposed to the death penalty, but to every rule there is usually an exception, and in this case I hope the criminals at General Motors will be arrested...

Apr 1st
3:55 PM
Read More

How Long Some in the US Will Survive Under New Health Law ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com Those who must access care to live and can afford it are not...

Mar 31st
10:13 PM
Read More

Last night, The Good Wife on the East Coast started 40 minutes late due to the overrun of the NCAA basketball game. If you had your DVR set for the show, you...

Mar 24th
5:41 PM
Read More

Watching films today, looking for the ones I'm going to pick for my film festival this summer. I (and a whole bunch of others!) have this thing we put on...

Mar 23rd
4:48 PM
Read More

When the U.S. Health Care System Keeps Killing, Who Cares Enough to Fight? ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com We have largely forgotten that people are at...

Mar 21st
5:56 PM
Read More

Tell the White House not to give up on Dr. Vivek Murthy's nomination as Surgeon General despite the ferocious opposition from the NRA: Don't give...

Mar 21st
5:38 PM
Read More

This criminal would never see a jail cell, nor would his cronies. In fact, they'd later be rewarded with re-election: Presidential Address on War with...

Mar 19th
9:40 PM
Read More

The crime of the century -- our invasion & slaughter in Iraq -- started 11 years ago tonite in this 7pm (ET) hour, March 19th, 2003: CNN Coverage of...

Mar 19th
9:08 PM
Read More

Washington’s Back-to-the-Future Military Policies in Africa ...by Nick Turse www.michaelmoore.com Nick Turse is an award-winning journalist, historian,...

Mar 17th
4:59 PM
Read More

"I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world." -- Tony Benn, 1925-2014 Tony Benn in 'Sicko'

Mar 14th
10:07 AM
Read More

RIP Tony Benn, one of the UK's greatest leaders: Tony Benn, veteran Labour politician, dies aged 88 www.theguardian.com Former cabinet minister died at...

Mar 14th
9:53 AM
Read More

Please read this important story from K. Ford K.: Am I the Face of the New American Middle Class? www.huffingtonpost.com I began to feel I had slipped so low...

Mar 13th
2:24 PM
Read More

Yesterday Dianne Feinstein revealed that the CIA has been spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is all about the report the committee has produced...

Mar 12th
6:48 PM
Read More

Health Care for All Colorado has brought Mercy Killers, a show written and performed by Michael Milligan about our murderous for-profit healthcare system, to...

Mar 10th
1:08 PM
Read More

Health Care Dramas that Sting and Why We Have to Watch ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com The realities Milligan has written into the show cut deep into...

Mar 10th
1:02 PM
Read More

Did you know the Lehrer Newshour on PBS has been produced for 20 years by a company owned by conservative cable billionaire John Malone? Me neither. After...

Mar 7th
8:39 PM
Read More

Mr. Obama, if int’l law is so damn crucial . . . | RootsAction.org act.rootsaction.org The Russian intervention deserves criticism. But let’s be clear. The...

Mar 6th
1:21 PM
Read More

Enron billionaire John Arnold thinks everyone should believe him when he says we've got to cut pensions because he's so incredibly rich: John...

Mar 5th
4:20 PM
Read More

More in David Sirota's continuing series on the billionaire takeover of PBS: More PBS conflict woes as activists move to eject David Koch from board of...

Mar 3rd
12:35 PM
Read More

Subscribe to Mike's Blog RSS

Click here to suggest an article

Mike's Blog

See More Blogs

Vew the archives

View older articles