A Commentary on An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take it Back by Elisabeth Rosenthal
My first question to any elected official I contact about health care legislation (and I will) will be: “Have you read Elisabeth Rosenthal’s book, An American Sickness?”
If the answer is yes, my second question will be: “How have her ideas been incorporated in health care legislation you will sponsor or support?” You can probably imagine the course of the ensuing conversation.
If the answer is no, my second question will be: “Why not?” If the answer is, “I haven’t heard of that book,” or any pathetic derivatives of that answer, I will proceed as follows.
“Here is why you should buy it and read it. Elisabeth presents a comprehensive picture of why and how the medical industrial complex in America mistreats patients, the people we used to believe were the beneficiaries of what we used to think of as our health care system. Patients: that is us. She reveals why and how the complex focuses on profit and not health; why it is a cartel and not a system. She goes on to offer advice on how to work around the obstacles to effective health care despite the non-system by providing information on important sources of aid. She closes by explaining what needs to happen to reclaim a responsive health care system from the piranhas that now call the shots. She reminds us that we have a cadre of superb medical professionals, some of whom have become complicit in this disaster, but most of whom ache to carry out their role as healers and menders to those in need.”
“If you are not willing to read it yourself, then assign it to one of your brightest staff members and insist that she/he communicate with Elisabeth before getting back to you with recommendations on how to proceed. Then contact me and let me know what you intend to do, when you intend to do it, and who else you have joined forces with to make it happen. I especially want to know the names of any in the latter category who are not members of your political party.”
While it may be generally agreed that health care has become a major, if not the major, current concern of Americans, it is also self-evident that the medical industrial complex has shanghaied our political world and inoculated it against any conceivable common sense fix. The same force that is necessary to rescue our dysfunctional federal governance miasma from itself is the one that will turn health care around as well: we the people.
We the people need a tool for opening doors, slamming inattention to the floor, and prying open windows to an approach that will actually work. Elisabeth Rosenthal has given us the pry-bar; it is now up to us to wield it.
Elisabeth is not asking the doctors, specialists, technicians, hospitals, pharmacists, pharmaceutical companies, and others to sacrifice reasonable income and profit. She is making the case that extortion in those areas is not legitimate, especially when we pay with not only our money, but our health outcomes as well.
A message to my 60-some active contacts and my elected (some newly) officials in Arizona urging them to read and act on An American Sickness will go out this week.
Oh, one more thing. Thank you, Elisabeth, for the immense public service you have performed in crafting this report to the American people. Bravo, indeed!
Al Bell lives in Peoria, AZ and is an activist with Independent Voters for Arizona.