Last week, I outlined a simple and original proposal to better health care access and delivery in America. It was first reported by Steve Lopez of the Los Angeles Times and then in my own op-ed here on the Huffington Post.
I am pleased to acknowledge a tide of public support for my simple and tax-free prescription to solve health care's ailments. I am also pleased to report that as of today, Sunday, August 16, 2009, Congress and the Obama administration seem to have acceded to political pressures and the torrent of dissent by Americans who reject a government "public option" with the potential to nationalize parts of our uniquely American health care system, proudly developed by our country's spirit and ingenuity over the past century.
For background, please refer back to my proposal, which with five bullet points corrects the inequities of the insurance system while preserving the best level of choice and care for all Americans, including the indigent and illegal aliens residing in our country, and with no additional debt or taxes.
Some commentators questioned my plan to mandate that the 159 urban medical schools in the U.S. -- remembering that "school" is in their name -- be required to serve the population within their shadows first, and not ever shut their doors or dump indigent patients to private practice. I would like to point out that although medical schools have markedly reduced professional "overhead" because of medical students working for free, and residents working at marked discount to private practice, this is all carried out under the supervision of excellent faculty, with some working as clinical professors with no compensation, in order to bring the highest level of care to any patient without regard to their ability to pay.
This altruistic vision for the 159 U.S. medical schools can be facilitated by proper mandates and federal regulations, and the schools can deliver great wide-spectrum ongoing maintenance and preventive care, not just crisis intervention. Just look at the model of our Los Angeles County/USC (LAC/USC) Medical Center, which renders 750,000 clinic visits for all specialties and 39,000 in-patient managements per year, mostly for indigents and illegal aliens of the greater Los Angeles area.
Another question raised by respondents to my proposal, the care for indigent or illegal alien populations in rural areas with less propinquity to medical schools, can actually be addressed with same methods now in place; namely, well-performing clinics, functioning under existing Medicare and Medicaid programs. This was highlighted by President Obama in Colorado Springs Saturday. But note that in some instances, patients in rural settings, regardless of their insurance coverage, will be referred out to larger urban medical school centers because of the severity of their medical problem.
The important point is that the huge urban indigent and illegal alien population in this country can get the best and most specialized care available in the US, not the lowest common denominator care, via the re-emphasized and capable medical school model.
President Obama has used the Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic as examples of models of efficient health care, but these systems predominantly serve private patients. I would invite President Obama or members of Congress or the national media to visit the model of the LAC/USC Medical Center, where stellar care is cost-effectively delivered to hundreds of thousands of indigent and illegal alien patients, year in and year out.
Please read my original plan here, I welcome any and all feedback.