For the past 11 years, I have helped lead Washington’s largest charity for prescription-drug access, the Prescription Drug Assistance Foundation. That experience informs my opinion that the Op-Ed advocating government-run health care — sometimes called “single-payer” — is troubling.
The author claims that with single-payer, “nobody is denied medicine based on their insurance.” This is simply false. No system in the world offers this. In Canada, drug coverage is private, outside the government system. In the U.K., there is a system of rationing that dictates what doctors can prescribe.
I experienced this in the United States. Washington’s Medicaid program had to be forced by a judge to offer access to a hepatitis C cure. In Oregon, Medicaid won’t pay to treat certain types of cancer, offering only palliative care. Our charity still provides prescription assistance to Medicaid patients because the state refuses to cover some doctor-prescribed medicines.
I appreciate the frustration of doctors who turn suffering patients away and desperately want to offer help. Those same doctors, however, are often unfamiliar with how the system they advocate actually works. Wishing a solution is easy. Implementing one is hard. As I have seen with my own eyes, it is not a system many of us would want.
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Todd Myers, Sammamish