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Healthcare in the Balance

Host Janice Markham and guest Dr. Susan Wu discuss healthcare in the United States in the lead up to the 2008 presidential election. Issues covered include the healthcare plans of various presidential candidates, the influence of insurance companies in the electoral process, and the benefits of a single-payer healthcare system. This show includes clips of California State Senator Sheila Kuehl exposing health insurance companies’ agendas and an excerpt from Ms. Markham’s interview with Rep. Dennis Kucinich.
Dr. Susan Wu is a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles and Asst. Prof. of clinical pediatrics at the University of Southern California. She is also on the board of directors of CaPA, the California Physicians Alliance.



quotes from Healthcare in the Balance

What is Universal Healthcare?

Susan Wu:  To me what true universal health care is, in fact, if you get sick, you can see a doctor, if you get diagnosed with a condition you can get a treatment for it no matter who you are, no matter how much money you make, where you live, where you work, no matter what your chronic condition is. 

How would you define the role of health insurance companies?

State Senator Sheila Kuehl:  There’s only one thing, one kind of entity, that adds no value at all to health care and that’s the insurance companies.   They take.   They take. They take.   And their whole job, I mean you saw it in Sicko….   Their whole job was to keep people from getting health care.   They get bonuses for the people they turn down.

Susan Wu:  The system we have now is a private system run mainly by private companies whose incentive to make profits is to not provide care.  How does that make any sense for a person who needs healthcare?

Rep. Dennis Kucinich:  The not-for-profit system means it’s healthcare for people – everyone’s covered, the money is already there in the system, except there’s no more corporate salaries no more profits, no more stock options, no more advertising, marketing, the cost of paperwork, which inevitably takes money out of healthcare and puts it into the pockets of insurance companies.

Would a Single-payer system benefit patients and physicians?

Susan Wu: That would make my life so much easier not to mention that would make my patients’ lives so much easier. Right now I spend an extra couple of hours every day filling out paperwork for insurance companies, calling and writing letters to overturn denials when the insurance companies won’t authorize something that I feel like my patients need, calling pharmacies to fill out paperwork to get approved medication that the pharmacy won’t dispense to my patients because the insurance company won’t pay for it.   It will really simplify the way that my workday goes, but more importantly, it will all my patients to get what they need right away without having to wait and find out, and cross their fingers, to see if their insurance company will help them.

For more information please go to:

Physicians for a National Healthcare Program

Kaiser Family Foundation

One Care Now


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