The incoming president of the Illinois State Medical Society (ISMS) said he's concerned single-payer health care could further drive up costs for care.
Dr. Paul Pedersen, chief medical officer at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington, said the society supports expanded care, but he warns a government takeover could create a monopoly.
“Competition in a capitalist society is a good idea,” Pedersen said. “Being able to open the door for competition is one good way to try to do that.”
Several presidential candidates have outlined proposals for universal health care. Pedersen said the physicians group believes expanding health care coverage for all Illinoisans is a noble goal to achieve, but the medical society doesn't endorse any particular way to get there.
Pedersen noted that, so far in the United States, health care is not a right.
“Should they have the availability of expensive care on someone else’s dollar? That’s a really difficult cultural question that I don’t believe there is consensus,” Pedersen said.
Pedersen added health care access is a problem, in part because medical education is so expensive that doctors are seeking higher paying specialties instead of primary care. That is causing a shortage in the number of doctors who are able to provide basic care.
He acknowledged the current health care system needs a major revamp. He suggested health care should move toward what's called a population health model. It relies on demographic and clinical data to help determine a patient's health risk factors.
Pedersen said he’s grateful to see pharmacies get into the immunization business in recent years, but he said lots of misinformation online and elsewhere is fueling an anti-vaccination movement that is putting the general population at risk.
Pedersen noted several recent cases of measles have been confirmed in the Champaign-Urbana area, while incidents of whooping cough, mumps, and influenza in various communities across the county, are all tied to lower vaccination rates.
He added the ISMS advocates for immunizations for all who are eligible, but the group stops short of recommending whether governments should adopt stricter guidelines to compel more people to get immunized.
“I think that’s a good question for our regulatory bodies to identify,” Pedersen said. “Like everything else, there are plusses and minuses. Do vaccinations have rare but still present side effects? Yes, they do.”
OSF St. Joseph is one of several medical centers in Central Illinois that has implemented visitor restrictions due to a flu outbreak. Pedersen said he expects the restriction will remain effect until later this month, once flu rates subside.
Pedersen said OSF hasn’t seen as much flu activity as first feared, while many of the those afflicted were already at high risk for getting the illness.
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Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect Dr. Pedersen's comments regarding health care not being a right in the U.S.
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