I am an internist, and served two years in the Epidemic Intelligence Service at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. The 1918 flu pandemic was forgotten when I began doctoring in 1965. Medicare was just passed, and I dreamed that universal health care might ensue. COVID-19 was unimaginable.
In 2020, the nightmare occurred, producing unthinkable illness, deaths and economic downturn. Our profit-oriented health care system, which links jobs with health insurance, magnifies glaring injustices in illness, well-being and poverty. The vivid inequities make me feel gloomy and sad – for my family, my neighbors and for Maine people from York to the Allagash.
We must implement a patient-oriented healthcare system that grants every person hassle-free access to all necessary medical care without payment at time of service, even after job loss. Universal health care would honor the Black Lives Matter/equality movements, ameliorate poverty and minimize chaos when the next plague arrives.
Universal healthcare could cover every person and cost less for families, employers, cities and states. Advocates include Bernie Sanders, Physicians for a National Health Plan, National Nurses United and, locally, Maine AllCare. Implementation is prevented by lack of political will.
All politics is local. Earlier this year, Bangor, Penobscot and Blue Hill passed Maine AllCare-suggested resolves urging the Legislature to implement universal healthcare. The Brunswick Town Council unanimously passed a similar resolve Monday. Could COVID-19 be the ultimate change agent? It seems to have provoked positive change. I hope that is not a pipe dream.
William D. Clark, M.D., Brunswick
This letter was published in the Portland Press Herald on August 6, 2020 https://www.pressherald.com/2020/08/06/letter-to-the-editor-covid-exposes-inequity-of-profit-oriented-health-care/