And welcome to Wellness Shepherd, a new blog launched under the new moon on a spectacular August day.
I am writing from West Hollywood, CA, an enclave that offers a number of free educational health events at its main library, the senior center, and other venues around town. Today, the National Council of Jewish Women hosted a discussion about the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The distinguished panel of experts included Susan Berke Fogel, an attorney and women’s rights advocate at the National Health Law Program; moderator Michael Hiltzik, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author who writes about public policy for the Los Angeles Times; Jim Lott, EVP of the Hospital Association of Southern California; Mark A. Peterson, PhD, Professor of Public Policy, Political Science and Law at UCLA School of Public Affairs; and Paul Song, MD, Board of Directors, Physicians for a National Health Program California.
“We cannot afford not to have healthcare reform,” and “transformation of the US healthcare system is necessary,” were the mantras of the speakers.
They touched on the importance of preventive health programs that will raise public health standards so spending can be reduced, changes in healthcare access (more access for more people), and the continuing shortage of doctors nationwide. It was pointed out that most young physicians have $200,000 of debt from their medical school studies, and, there is an ever increasing number of seniors as the number of medical school graduates dwindle. Seniors tend to have more health challenges than any other segment of the population.
Four of the panelists are advocates for some form of universal health care, preferably a single payer system. No one mentioned that of the 33 developed democratic nations in the world, the U.S. is the only country that does not offer universal health care to its citizens. There was no mention of what happens to those who are indigent and under 65 years of age who do not have employer insurance, nor the ability to pay for government insurance and health services of any kind.
The audience was encouraged to read up on the new program, to ask questions, and to remember ACA is a beginning, that it is necessary to look at the long-term goals, not short term results, and to understand the program has the capacity to evolve and improve. It was noted that when Medicare was founded in 1965 the initial program had its challenges; it was very different from the program in place now – it was improved, innovations were implemented. Ditto for Social Security.
For more information on the new ACA, please see Anna Wilde Mathews Wall Street Journal 16-page article of December 12, 2011, “The Future of U.S. Health Care” at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204319004577084553869990554.html
Blessings of health,