The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, July 09, 2019 1:00 am

For-profit not for patients

Banks naive on Americans' health care needs

Edith Kenna

Last December, Rep. Jim Banks wrote an oped for The Journal Gazette regarding controlling health care costs by preventing mergers of hospitals, by encouraging competition among hospitals.

It appears by his statements at his Fort Wayne town hall on July 2 that Banks still does not understand health care.

I appreciate the congressman thinking about cost control, but his idea falls short. As a licensed clinical social worker with nearly 35 years of experience in health care, his idea is naive and it appears that he has the almost-religious belief that market forces and competition can solve all problems.

My 35 years of experience in hospitals, emergency rooms, state hospitals, private practice physicians' offices and community mental health centers has provided me with much wisdom regarding the inadequacy of the for-profit system when people are truly sick.

Dr. Johnathon Ross, in the winter newsletter of Physicians for a National Health Program, outlines plans that have been tried and have failed to control costs, improve outcomes or expand access in the for-profit health care system.

We have tried “privatization of Medicare through competing Medicare Advantage plans, privatization of Medicaid by competing HMOs, privatizing facilities like nursing homes, home care, hospices and dialysis. We have tried insurance reforms such as marketplace exchanges like those of Obamacare (ACA), the federal employee health benefit system, high-risk pools to reduce insurer risk, and expanding insurance markets across state lines. We have tried putting providers and patients at risk through HMOs, PPOs, ACOs, capitation, health savings accounts, high-deductible health plans, bundled payments, pay for performance, narrow networks and malpractice reforms.”

People who are sick are not profitable to health insurance companies. No one competes to provide care to the sick and the elderly. Insurance companies compete for money paid to them by the healthy who have been brainwashed and assume “health insurance,” by its very name, implies that when one is chronically sick, the insurance one pays for should pay your health care providers and hospital bills.

Through my long experience working in the field of health care, through serious health problems faced by members of my family, and through the statistics of Americans who suffer medical bankruptcy (530,000 families annually), it is evident the for-profit health care system serves itself and not its customers.

People like their doctors, but not their health insurance companies. A Medicare for All plan including all doctors – a privately delivered, publicly funded system of care – is our future.

It is high time the congressman studied the issue and listened to his constituents and not simply parrot PR from health insurance companies. 

Edith Kenna, a Fort Wayne resident, is a member of Medicare for All-Indiana and Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan. 

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