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Universal health care for all is a worthy goal

March 3, 2016
Westfield Republican

Dear Editor,

In response to the letter from Terry Clark about ObamaCare (the Affordable Care Act), as a physician I differ with Dr. Clark.

Nine million citizens have been enrolled under the Affordable Care Act, leaving some 30-40 million without health insurance for whatever reason. Cleveland Clinic or any hospitals refusing patients under the act should be ashamed of themselves. The doctor-patient relationship was damaged long before the ACA, with many doctors seeking higher paid specialties over primary care, where the major needs for physicians are. (Note: in England's national health care system, primary care physicians receive the highest reimbursements.) Good physicians advocate for their patients, whether they self-pay, are in Medicaid or Medicare, or have private insurance. Medicaid in New York has allowed physicians to care for medically indigent patients in a more respectful and competent way -?although reimnbursement may be a problem.

I believe it is the responsibility of all physicians and hospitals to share the burden of low reimbursement, not to opt out and leave the burden to the those doctors and hospitals who realize their moral responsibilities to care for all. We are not the greatest health care system in the world by many objective standards, in spite of Dr. Clark's statement. I volunteer at a free clinic in Syracuse. Patients come there from their private doctors' offices because they can't afford the prescriptions they are given. Patients come there because they can't get a timely appointment for a pre-employment physical. Fortunately, our clinic provides navigators to help patients enroll under in the ACA programs, so our numbers have decreased considerably. And as far as wait times go, you might be able to get your knee replaced surgically more quickly than in Canada under universal health care, but try to get into the doctor's office on the same day when you are really sick - you are likely to be told to go to an emergency room.

At some point before I die, I hope there will be universal, single payor health care for all. I would still be able to practice good medicine, advocate for my patients, make a decent living, be able to buy my home and send my kids to college.

Dr. Joel Potash




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