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Tags: califonria | single payer
OPINION

Golden State Teeters on Edge of Healthcare Cliff

road sign reading health insurance changes ahead
(Dreamstime)

Sally Pipes By Friday, 28 April 2023 03:13 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

Democrats in the California Legislature are moving ahead with a new bid to impose single-payer health care in the Golden State.

Last week, the Senate Health Committee green-lit SB 770 by a 7-2 margin. The measure holds Gov. Gavin Newsom to a set of deadlines for advancing his long-promised government takeover of the state's health insurance sector.

Next up for the bill will be a hearing before the state Senate Appropriations Committee May 1. If this effort succeeds, state residents will soon find themselves subject to long waits for poor care, as is the case in countries with government-dominated systems like the United Kingdom and Canada.

SB 770 aims to accelerate the process of securing a waiver from the federal government to spend federal dollars earmarked for Medicare and Medicaid -- or "Medi-Cal," as it's called in California -- on a new state-run health plan that would ensnare all the state's residents.

It's hard to look at the recent experiences of patients in the United Kingdom and Canada -- and still see single-payer health care as an ideal toward which anyone should strive.

Britain's government-run health system, the National Health Service, is in the throes of an historic crisis that has left more than one in ten people in England -- 7.2 million patients -- waiting for care. In an alarming number of cases, people must endure years-long delays for even the most essential medical treatments.

Take Garry Cogan, a British patient who suffered a heart attack in April 2021. After that episode, doctors told him he needed a triple-bypass surgery. As of early February 2023, he had yet to receive the procedure, according to reporting from Reuters. At one point during his wait, he thought about going for a run so he'd "keel over" and qualify for emergency care.

At the emergency department, British patients routinely wait a dozen hours or more on gurneys in hallways, in the backs of ambulances, or even in closets for a hospital bed to free up. One 92-year-old woman was forced to spend 33 hours in an emergency-room hallway, a harrowing experience that left her begging her family to let her die.

In another heartbreaking report, an unnamed NHS emergency-room worker described having to declare a man dead on the floor of the waiting room, as other patients looked on in horror.

A particularly macabre headline in the British newspaper The Guardian put the gravity of the situation in striking relief: "NHS crisis causing continued higher-than-normal levels of death."

Not surprisingly, the near-complete breakdown of the National Health Service has led to a surge in demand for private care across the country. Just 29% of Britons are satisfied with the NHS, according to a recent poll.

Last year, almost half a million people purchased private health insurance in the United Kingdom. The number of U.K. patients who obtained hip replacements through a private provider jumped by 184% in the second quarter of 2022 compared to the same period in 2019.

A similar trend can be seen in Canada, where an overburdened single-payer system has made timely medical care hard to come by. In the province of Ontario, for instance, the average emergency room patient waited nearly two hours to be seen by a doctor. Those that ended up being admitted to the hospital spent an average of over 20 hours in the ER.

A poll of Canadian patients published in April found that a majority of the country believed that access to private care should be increased. Two in three agreed that private care was faster than what's available through the government system.

So while California lawmakers are pushing the state closer to single-payer, the patients forced to live under these tragically flawed health systems are clamoring for more private care. What the horror stories emerging from places like the United Kingdom and Canada make painfully clear is that single-payer isn't the apex of healthcare policy. It's a worst-case scenario, a cautionary tale, an atrocious error that ought never be repeated.

Sally C. Pipes is president, CEO, and the Thomas W. Smith fellow in healthcare policy at the Pacific Research Institute. Her latest book is "False Premise, False Promise: The Disastrous Reality of Medicare for All," (Encounter Books 2020). Follow her on Twitter @sallypipes. Read Sally Pipes' Reports — More Here.

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SallyPipes
While California lawmakers are pushing the state closer to single-payer, the patients forced to live under these tragically flawed health systems are clamoring for more private care.
califonria, single payer
722
2023-13-28
Friday, 28 April 2023 03:13 PM
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