Guest editorial by Ernest A. Canning
With the backing of the AFL-CIO, National Nurses United, and the International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) simultaneously introduced the American Health Security Act of 2011, a Medicare-for-All single-payer system.
The move triggered a "provocative, interesting discussion," as Sanders described it, during a Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions subcommittee hearing in the Senate last week in which the Vermont Senator squared off with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) (see video below). Sanders and a physician-witness agreed that treating healthcare as a "right" is consistent with the Hippocratic Oath. For his part, Paul, a self-certified physician, claimed that the establishment of healthcare as a right would turn physicians and their staffs into slaves, with the possibility of police barging into their houses at night to arrest them. Paul's theory that medical care for all "enslaves" doctors and all of those who choose to work in their offices, would no doubt come as a surprise to many physicians who live comfortably in single-payer countries, like the wealthy UK physician interviewed by Michael Moore in Sicko!
Dr. Paul's remarks underscore the extent to which ideology has obscured a basic reality that the core problem is not the ability of American physicians to deliver quality healthcare, but the absurdity of a society which places a greater value on accumulating obscene wealth in the hands of the privileged few above the health and very lives of its citizens...