By Dr. Cathleen London in The Hill. Above photo from Getty Images.
This Memorial Day weekend I have time to ruminate about those who have given their lives for the American dream.
What is that dream? Have we lost sight of it?
Are we now a county comprised of an upper class — an aristocracy — and a lower class in poverty. A country where All the middle class seems to be forgotten.
Our infrastructure is crumbling, and the administration wants to sell it to the highest bidder.
Shall we have our bridges, tunnels and highways owned by other countries? And what of caring for society’s sick? Are we to outsource that too?
It seems not.
Instead we are trending towards dividing our sick between deserving and undeserving poor. How tragic. How cold hearted. In fact, how disgusting. When I hear politicians declare that diabetes is the fault of the person who has it, due to their lifestyle, I think of my great uncles — skinny, active men with diabetes.
It is in my genes. I run marathons. My diet is healthy.
If I develop diabetes will they consider it my fault?
How dare they.
I think of my patients who live in food deserts. We live in a poor rural county with virtually no public transportation and horrible walking conditions. Yet they would blame my patients.
Patients who have shown up to their visits with “providers” who changed nothing despite out of control diabetes because any further medication cost more.
The more I encounter this after 22 years as a physician the more I am convinced in universal healthcare.
I am tired of being embarrassed that the United States ranks so low in every measure. I am tired of trying to explain to my patients why I cannot order the medication; why I cannot order a test I deem appropriate for them through my training as a physician because I am overruled by the intricate insurance companies.
I am tired of medical treatment being a political football.
It is time for the United States to join the rest of the developed world with universal healthcare for all citizens. Stop the piecemeal of government spending on Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, Veterans Association and Federal Employee Benefits (including Congress) and create a single payer system providing coverage for everyone.
Keep our hospitals open. Simplify billing. Simplify all the rules — have one set instead of the multitude of complexities with intricacies needing a doctorate in economics to understand.
We are the United States.
How better to prove that than to come together on this issue and declare healthcare a human right? How better to unify our divided nation than to care for the population? How better to heal our divide than to provide preventive services?
On this Memorial Day let us remember why lives were lost, and remember to put patients over politics.
Dr. Cathleen London is physician based in Maine who developed a cost-effective alternative to the standard EpiPen in response to skyrocketing prices. London has been an on-air contributor for Fox News and local television stations around the nation. Her healthcare innovations have been featured in the New York Times.