Point And Counterpoint on Health Care Reform?

I’m running around on the Psychiatry Consultation Service and barely have time to think about anything else. However, my wife saved a recent New Yorker viewpoint article to our computer for me to read, On Health Care, We’ll Have What Congress Is Having, by Jeffrey Frank, published on February 17, 2017 in the on line Daily Comment section.

It’s an interesting read about what the author says are the advantages of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), and is supportive of the conservative position that it’s a viable alternative to Obamacare. Mr. Frank, with entertaining rhetorical flourishes, emphasizes all of the advantages of the FEHBP and deftly omits all of the flaws.

You can find the counterpoint at this link. It’s from the Physicians For A National Health Program (PNHP), who are admittedly biased in favor of a single payer system, specifically H.R. 676.

Republicans-vs-DemocratsMaybe there should be a formal debate on whether FEHBP or H.R. 676 should be the focus of American health care reform in what may be the waning days of Obamacare. It wouldn’t be a CNN sponsored Town Hall or classical debate. The debaters could be House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has touted FEHBP on a CNN Town Hall program and maybe Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, MD, MPH, FACP, who is on the PHNP Speakers Bureau list. The sharpness of their intellects are probably comparable to the talons of Iowa Red Tail Hawks.red-tail-hawks

Hey, and they’re both speakers, so it would work.

Who would be the moderator? Probably not a liberal like Paul Starr, Princeton Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs, which Jeffrey Frank mentions in the New Yorker Daily Comment noted above. But the moderator should have Starr’s intellectual clout and class. I’m struggling to read his classic, The Social Transformation of American Medicine.


It’s a struggle to read mainly because I’m so busy putting out fires all over the hospital. It’s also a little hard to read because it’s real reading, not like opinion pieces and blogs. So far, my impression from just getting started is that physicians were not getting any respect in the 19th century–and we’re not getting any now. I’m sure there’s more in between.

Finding a neutral moderator might be as difficult as finding a debater to argue in favor of the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program who is not an executive of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) or one of its member specialty boards. No kidding, a colleague is proposing such a debate at Iowa, with me arguing on the pro-lifelong learning but anti-MOC side (of course). So far no takers on the pro-lifelong learning and pro-MOC side.

Who would sponsor the debate arguing FEHBP vs H.R. 676? If not CNN, could it be–The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics? Why not, since I’m just dreaming this whole thing up anyway?

I gotta run to rounds.