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An insider's view of health care reform

Philip Pizzo, MD, dean of the Stanford School of Medicine, says in a recent Q&A that inaction on health care reform is simply not an option, given the massive flaws of our current system.

"It's somewhat amazing to me to listen to a variety of arguments that are made against reform," Pizzo says in the latest commentary, appearing in the Stanford Medicine Newsletter. "One is an assumption that things are OK, and they're not. The status quo is not an option."

Pizzo,who is a practicing pediatrician, notes that people have lost sight of the fact that their insurance is at risk. Most of us know someone who has lost insurance or been denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. It's also hard to describe the U.S. system as effective, he says, when it consumes so much of our resources - 16 percent of the national GNP and rapidly growing. He notes that some critics have opposed reform for fear it will ration care. But Pizzo argues that we already have rationing in effect - a 'have and have-not' system that allocates care on the basis of socioeconomic status.

As a physician working inside the system, he is certainly not alone in advocating major reform. Surveys have shown that 60 to 70 percent of physicians want significant change, with up to 70 percent favoring the public option, he notes. The public option is currently off the table in legislation now under debate - a fact that could make significant reform hard to achieve, Pizzo says.

Pizzo also recently discussed this issue during a 1:2:1 podcast, which can be heard here.

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