What’s the health care solution?

President Obama heard the boos from doctors on Monday when he said he wouldn’t support limits on jury awards in malpractice cases. The president spoke to the American Medical Association in Chicago (See transcript), warning doctors that if something isn’t done about health care, the country might go the way of GM.

But at the same time, he seemed to allay fears of a big upheaval.

“If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what,” he said.

“What’s the ‘reform’ about simply allowing you to keep your present plan as is?” ABC’s medical editor, Dr. Tim Johnson, wrote in an online column.

“Obama wants single payer, government controlled and operated. He is a facist (sic) who will stop at nothing but total control,” a commenter wrote.

About that single-payer stuff. We heard from Doug Miron, of Solway, Minn., in advance of a show Kerri Miller is doing Tuesday on the subject.


We, as a young family, lived in Canada from 1970-1979. Before then, I grew up in Conn. from ’41. After that, we lived in Brookings, SD until ’99, and have lived here near Bemidji since 2000. I have 60 years experience with American medicine and 9 years with the Canadian system.

Right off, let me say that we much prefer the Canadian system. It is simpler for everybody involved. The medical service is as good as anything we found in the U.S. The main cost control is that the provincial governments negotiate the prices with the physicians. In neither Clinton’s effort nor the present effort aimed at real cost control through negotiation of prices charged by the providers.

I have heard on NPR that some rich opponent of single-payer coverage is going around the world collecting horror stories for commercials against it. On the one hand, I think somebody should check the facts if these commercials hit the air. On the other hand, I think supporters ought to make horror-story commercials about our system. The other day we heard stories about farmers and rural workers who either couldn’t afford medical insurance or were one serious illness away from bankruptcy. My wife, Molly, remarked that this would be a strange conversation to a Canadian. In the past, we’ve heard stories about indigent patients who show up at places that don’t want to give free medical treatment and are trucked off and dumped at a county hospital or a free clinic.

Of my own experiences, I think the most damning was one in the mid ’70s. We were visiting Molly’s sister on her dairy farm in upstate New York. Our middle son, then a crawling baby, sustained a head injury. I held him to me while we all piled into cars and drove to the Ogdensburg Hospital. I walked in with blood all over my shirt holding the baby and the first thing said to me was something to the effect that we need to do the financial paperwork. I growled “Fix the baby first, then we’ll talk about paperwork.” They stabilized him and we were sent to a hospital near Watertown, where they could really deal with the injury. Luckily, while his skull was penetrated, his brain sheath was not.

Opponents of the plan now in Congress say that the public insurance component is a step toward socialized medicine. I hope it passes and they are right.

Midmorning will, indeed, tackle the subject at 9 a.m. on Tuesday. I’ll live-blog it here.