Is US Health Care Policy an Infectious Disease?

I attended a (rather depressing) talk today called: "Is US Health Care Policy an Infectious Disease?" by Dr. Steffie Woolhandler and Dr. David Himmelstein - which was interesting in light of the recent SCOTUS ruling. Despite the health care overhaul, we still have such a long way to go to provide affordable, quality care to all.

The speakers showed this cartoon in a powerpoint slide in order to illustrate just how complicated "Obamacare" is. And they pointed out how President Obama early in his presidency had talked about a single-payer national health system, but then ditched that idea right away. (Disclosure: Both Woolhandler and Himmelstein are co-founders of the US-based Physicians for a National Health Program.)

A few quotes stuck with me:

"The health-care reform process exposes how corporate influence renders the US Government incapable of making policy on the basis of evidence and the public interest." - The Lancet

"Why would anyone look to the US for health care quality and cost?" - Dr. Steffie Woolhandler

"The two tallest buildings dominating the Boston skyline are named after insurance companies. That's indicative of the state of US health care today." - Dr. Steffie Woolhandler

On another note, I interviewed Dr. David Himmelstein seven years ago for my RFI story: "Deregulate the Healthcare Industry or Increase Federal Supervision." Even back then, he told me, "The private insurance industry - they are extremely rich and powerful folks. And they are prepared to spend vast sums of money to affect the political process, and I think that's our problem. Let's stop making medicine about money. Let's make it about taking care of people."

That was back in 2008. Has anything changed?