Friday, May 11, 2007

Illinois Medical Society Opposes Single-Payer Coverage

As an interesting contrast to the Colorado Medical Society, which has taken a position in favor of "mandatory" and "universal" health care reform, the Illinois State Medical Society has recently taken an explicit stand against single-payer plans or other massive government intrusions into medicine. At their April 2007 annual meeting, they adopted the following "Principles For Health System Reform".

In particular, I would like to highlight their "Guiding Principle #1":
1. Health care delivery and finance system reform should use the current public-private system as a basis and focus on incremental evolutionary change.

This principle recognizes that while the current health care system is not without shortcomings, it should be used as the basis for change and any type of government-run proposal should be rejected. Single-payer, federally-run or state-run proposals would require radical restructuring of the health care financing system and would control costs by rationing services and limiting choice. Such systems may promise universal coverage, but coverage does not equate to access to care when the end result is centralized health care rationing.
Their recognition that government-run medicine leads to rationing is crucial, and I hope that more Colorado physicians will be willing to make similar statements.

Their concept of using the current system as a basis for reform is necessarily very open-ended, but at least it leaves open the possibility of market-based reforms, such as the FAIR proposal ("Free-Markets, Affordability & Individual Rights") by Dr. Brian Schwartz.

The overall Illinois guidelines are still mixed, with some elements I support and other elements I oppose. But overall, their position is far superior to the one taken by the Colorado Medical Society.