Monday, May 12, 2008

Dr. Rocky White: Evangelical, Conservative, Single Payer Plan Advocate?

Much of the discussion about health care reform in the national arena is centered around the continuing debates between the two Presidential hopefuls of the Democratic Party: Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. With cost of care an issue of escalating prominence, and groups like the AFL/CIO releasing findings that show their membership believes the American health care system to be broken on a fundamental level, this issue is one whose importance cannot be overestimated.

One option noticeably absent from both candidates' conversations is that of a single-payer solution. A species of solution was endorsed last December by the American College of Physicians, the largest medical specialty organization in the U.S. Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! takes a stab at the subject matter in an interview that appeared in AlterNet. In that interview she speaks with Dr. Rocky White, an evangelical from a rural conservative background who is a proponent of a single-payer system.

And as I began to study and to look at state policy and federal policy and going back -- if you want to understand our health care system, you have to go back fifty or a hundred years to see how we evolved into this. You know, there wasn't some mad scientist in the 1940s who devised this horrible system that we have today. It was just a matter of evolutionary process, so to speak. But as I began to study that and to try and assimilate what it was that was going on, I began to see some very disturbing trends. Part of the reasons that we got to where we're at today are multiple. There's not just one "this is what happened." And as I started to weave that together, I began to say, "Jiminy Christmas! This thing is really screwed up!" And now I'm beginning to understand the health care system very well, not just our group, but as a whole.

And then I began to ask myself, what are we going to have to do to fix it? And so, obviously, single-payer was not even something that I would have even considered ten years ago. In fact, ten years ago I didn't even know the word "single-payer" existed. And so, as I started to look at that and I looked at different ways that we could fix this whole thing -- I mean, you talk about subsidies, expanding Medicaid, all of that -- I began to realize that the only way that we're going to fix this system is we're going to have to put everyone on a Medicare-like system. In order to truly fix the system, we're going to have to put everyone into one single risk pool, we're going to have to share that risk, and the most efficient way to do that is through the tax system.

It's a highly unusual perspective compared to others from a similar background -- a fact that Dr. White was painfully aware of as he researched his position.
And I was very sheepish about the whole thing. I mean, here I am, a Republican, thinking about nationalizing health care. It just went against the grain of everything that I stood for. But you have to remember something, Amy: I didn't come to those conclusions with lofty ideals of social justice. It was purely from an economic standpoint. This is the only way that we're going to do -- be able to fix this and do it efficiently.
Go check out the interview. It is three pages of great food for thought. It is also an example of the type of thinking we need now in order to be able to enact positive reform, thinking that sets ideology aside in favor of facts and groundwork.

The health care crisis is one that does not care if its victims are conservative or liberal. It takes no notice of skin color or church affiliation. Ask the 47 million uninsured.

SOURCE: "Evangelical Doctor Touts Better Health Care Plan Than Clinton, Obama" 05/06/08
photo courtesy of Pink Moose, used according to its Creative Commons license

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