Op-Ed: A Healthy Dilemma By Fletcher Hall


Congress will not enact a new healthcare act at this time. The wheels of Congress grind very slowly; however, the legislative process has begun, and the horse-trading has been significant and vicious. As evidenced by the withdrawal of the proposed Trump health plan, the Republicans proved that their party’s schism is really harmful to their own political agenda.

Having watched the committee hearings in the House of Representatives, I am convinced it is dangerous to have anyone in Congress attempting to create a national healthcare plan. If they cannot understand and clearly explain the legislation, how can the American public?

My observations about the government’s involvement in the healthcare industry are that they should have no, or a very limited, role in the provision of medical care. Perhaps it should be limited to some oversight responsibilities to keep the industry on a level playing field and drug costs at a reasonable level.

For the first twenty years of life, my healthcare connection was that I saw the doctor who delivered me until I was out of college. Services were paid for by cash or check, with no third-party intervention. Having grown up in a rural area on the Eastern Shore, there were many stories of doctors taking eggs, chickens, and vegetables instead of cash for payment of medical services. Even my uncle accepted this method of payment for his services. But, progress and the march of time makes such stories simply memories of the past. And so it should be.

Medicine today, while still being a healing art, is partially governed by time and money. It is a given that the advances made in the field of medicine and the provision of healthcare services have been amazing and profound; however, government intervention in the delivery of healthcare has become so detrimental that it has made many advances in medical care unaffordable.

Since it will now remain a program “captured” by Congress, healthcare remains to be fixed. The capacity to make the long-needed changes is best left to the private sector. The president should appointment a national commission to identify the essential components and best practices of the provision of healthcare. This commission would then make their findings available to Congress for their consideration. Better yet, the conclusions of the commission could be adopted as a set of national standards for the provision of healthcare services throughout the United States.

The provision of healthcare services surely affects all Americans from cradle to grave. As the elderly population of America continues to grow, so to does the necessity of providing quality, affordable medical services. Rather than complicate healthcare services, now is the time to simplify service delivery and patient care.

America can do better. It now appears that the Trump administration and Congress are again attempting to address this issue. The current administration needs to have solutions enacted before the 2018 mid-year elections. Be careful what you promise—even when Congress is controlled by your own party. The Freedom Caucus can take a wrecking ball to almost any legislation with which they disagree.

The United States remains the preeminent provider of healthcare in the world. Johns Hopkins Hospital and the University of Maryland Medical System are primary examples of institutions providing cutting edge medical services. Baltimore is indeed fortunate to have these institutions and the prominent doctors drawn to this area by such medical facilities.

Medical care in this country is in flux. It can be improved, but the government and the private sector must identify their roles in the vast system of health services.

Each has a role to play. The private sector has opportunities to make significant changes and improvements and should speak up before the government forces changes that are either not desirable or even more onerous than those imposed at the present time.

Letters to Editor

  1. Gren Whitman says:

    Mr. Fletcher confuses health insurance with health care, and vice versa.
    Health care is provided by medical professionals (physicians, nurses, therapists, etc.), who are paid for their services by insurance, cash, or … chickens and such.

  2. Deirdre LaMotte says:

    This only solution I feel is a single payer provider. We would have that but President Obama wanted a health care system that the Republicans would accept and tried to compromise.
    He failed to realize that they’d never work with an urbane, intelligent black man. The Republicans just can’t help it, can they?

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