His favored solution to the health insurance quagmire, a National Health Service, doesn’t have to be government, he notes. It could, for example, be administered by the Red Cross or another such non-profit organization. “That’s probably better than government.” Ideally, he’d like to see a National Health Service phased in over, say, 25 years. For example, you could raise the income level that qualifies families for Medicaid, or lower the age requirement for Medicare, gradually, year by year. “It’d be catastrophically disastrous to pass a sudden law,” he says. “To be fair, people work for insurance companies.”
In any case, a so-called public option would destroy the health insurance companies, he tells me with a hint of glee. And that’s why they won’t let it happen.
In the meantime, he continues to sling rocks at the health insurance Goliath with his small practice and his restaurant workers cooperative, in which roughly 25 restaurants are now participating. (He says he sees two or three restaurant workers a day.) He hopes the model will serve as a model for other doctors, as well; about three have already contacted him, from Florida to Long Island. He also hopes to have a website up and running soon, which will include a F.A.Q. on how doctors could set up such a cooperative on their own.
So far, I ask him, has the program been a success? Well, that depends on how you measure success. “If I saw one person in a year,” he said, “it would be successful.”