Commentary: We need health care reform, not just ‘coverage’

(Tribune file photo) Congresswoman Mia Love and Salt Lake County mayor Ben McAdams take part in a debate at the Gail Miller Conference Center at Salt Lake Community College in Sandy as the two battle for Utah's 4th Congressional District on Monday, Oct. 15, 2018.

I don't know about you, gentle reader, but I tire of the nonsense that passes for political discourse in this country.

For example, the candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives from Utah’s 4th Congressional District just recently met for a debate. During one excruciating segment, both of these esteemed persons, each holding important office at present, took swipes at one another repeatedly over the federal deficit without ever mentioning the sole cause of federal debt, which is health care spending. (Federal revenues are projected to keep up with future federal outlays for all categories of spending with the exception of our massive health care programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, etc.)

Not long after exchanging meaningless sentiments about federal debt, the two candidates were actually asked about health care. And again, they failed to address the real issues, choosing instead to snipe at each other over Obamacare, whether it should be salvaged or repealed, ad nauseum. These two candidates, Mia Love and Ben McAdams, either don’t know or don’t care about the basic facts concerning our nation’s single most important domestic issue: our massively wasteful, generally dysfunctional health care system. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if the electorate actually could hear candidates articulating the real issues and proposing real solutions?

But this is our own fault. We, the voters of America, who repeatedly opine that we dislike Congress, nonetheless put up with campaign drivel and generally re-elect our own member of Congress. Let’s change this. We deserve better.

I challenge every Utah voter to reach out to the candidates for Congress in Utah and tell them what you want them to do about health system reform. For those of you puzzled about what you should demand from Congress, here are some facts and ideas:

Americans pay the world’s highest taxes for health care. Two thirds of our nation’s $3 trillion annual health spending comes from the taxpayer. Every other First World nation spends far less and has better health outcomes. The American health care system, compared to other first world nations, wastes $1 trillion per year in health care spending because of poor quality care and inefficiency.

“Coverage” programs like Obamacare are not health system reform. No one needs health insurance, which is the world’s most useless, wasteful, expensive health financing scheme. What every American needs is high-quality health care, and we are already paying enough health taxes to support that. High-quality health care costs less than the shoddy, mediocre care now delivered in the U.S.

We have inefficient, mediocre care in the U.S. because that is what generates highest profits for health care corporations. Our national debt is due to the corporate welfare we the taxpayers are forced to give to the medical industrial complex. Who forces us to make this gift? Politicians from both major political parties. There is not a dime’s worth of difference between Rs and Ds when it comes to the essential features of health policy proposed by each, as the “debate” between Love and McAdams recently illustrated yet again.

Here’s an idea. Tell your congressional candidates that you will not vote for them unless they promise to get the federal government out of the way so that states can attempt real and sustainable health system reform. Call them, text them, email them, flood their campaign offices with demands that they publicly commit to support the State Based Universal Health Care Act of 2018. Just watch how fast these politicians change their tune on health care after the first politician loses office because he/she failed to stop wasting tax dollars on health care corporate welfare.

Joseph Jarvis

Joseph Jarvis, M.D., is the author of the recently published book “The Purple World: Healing the Harm in American Health Care” and will gladly brief any congressional candidate on health system reform.