Health reform and cognitive dissonance

Excellent summary of a recent talk given by Princeton’s Uwe Reinhardt. One interesting point the post brings up is health care for the poor, and how this is a legacy of racism:

The way we pay health care providers who take Medicaid patients illustrates just how conflicted we are. Doctors who treat these patients are paid much less then they would be if they were treading Medicare patients . . .

. . . Southern Congressmen refused to vote for the 1965 legislation that created both Medicare and Medicaid if physicians and hospitals were going to be paid as much to treat the poor as they were paid when treating the elderly. These Congressmen wanted to preserve medical apartheid (most Southerners over the age of 65 were white: a combination of poverty and a lack of healthcare ensured that few African-Americans lived that long).

Ultimately President Johnson had no choice but to cave to the legislators’ demands. What is both shameful and startling is that forty-three years later, this wrong still has not been righted.

As stated here before, the fundamental question of whether health care is a right needs to be answered before any type of major reform can hope to succeed.

Maybe, like Taiwan, this needs to be addressed by the Supreme Court.