My View: Oregon needs to get a better attitude

        Sanuel Metz, MD

     Sanuel Metz, MD

The Portland Tribune, Tuesday, 07 July 2015
by Samuel Metz

The Federal Aviation Agency reports that not all airline accidents are caused by bad weather. Some pilots, in a crisis, succumb to “hazardous attitudes,” making a bad situation worse. By teaching pilots to overcome these attitudes, flying becomes safer.

And so it is with health care. Oregonian voters have our own “hazardous attitudes” that worsen the impending health care crisis. Overcoming these attitudes means health care becomes less expensive, more accessible, and, like aviation, safer. But before correcting these attitudes, we must identify them.

The FAA’s hazardous attitudes are simple: Antiauthority, impulsivity, invulnerability, “machoness,” and resignation. Voter attitudes toward health care are far more complex.

First hazardous attitude: “Other people should only get the health care they can pay for.” This is certainly true today. And without action, it will be true indefinitely. Other industrialized nations, all of which provide better care to more people for less money, adopt a different attitude: Everyone needs health care, so let’s find the best method to achieve it.

Second attitude: “Restricting access to health care reduces costs.” Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia advocates closing emergency rooms to people who can’t pay, thus saving money for taxpayers. This radical proposition certainly benefits wealthy taxpayers without emergent needs. But for the rest of us, helping wealthy taxpayers by denying emergency care to our families could mean dying on the doorsteps of an emergency room.