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Fix It: Healthcare at the Tipping Point stirs crowd

By Staff | Sep 21, 2018

From left, panelists film producer Richard Master and Dr. Margaret Flowers discuss the benefits of single-payer healthcare during question and answer session following the movie at the Robert C. Byrd Center Thursday evening. Photo by Tabitha Johnston.

SHEPHERDSTOWN — As the 38-minute film “Fix It: Healthcare at the Tipping Point” came to a close, Popular Resistance Co-Director Dr. Margaret Flowers and film producer Richard Master, CEO of MCS Industries, took the stage in the Robert C. Byrd Center auditorium on the evening of Sept. 13.

Sponsored by the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education and Shepherd University Lifelong Learning Program, the documentary was the first film in this year’s Fall Film Festival, discussing the rising cost of healthcare to American businesses and attempting to persuade viewers to accept single-payer healthcare as the solution to that problem.

“Our current healthcare system is the most rationed healthcare system in the world. Studies found that Americans are much more likely to defer medical care because of costs. 84,000 lives could be saved a year if all preventable deaths were prevented every year,” the 2015 film cited.

According to Master, this film is one of three available through his website, fixithealthcare.com/. Each film discusses the benefits of single-payer healthcare from a different perspective, Master said, mentioning this film helps viewers understand how the “supply chain” of healthcare can be changed by eliminating the “middle man,” insurance companies, and instating a similar national healthcare system to that of Canada or Germany.

“The supply chain doesn’t work for us. It works for the healthcare industry. We could reduce our overall cost if we removed that middle man,” Master said, mentioning that in the single-payer system Americans’ Medicare tax would be replaced with a slightly heavier tax that he believes would cover the cost of the country’s healthcare needs.

Agreeing with Master, Flowers said she believes the reason she burnt out after 15 years of practicing as a primary care physician is the same reason many other physicians burn out — because of worrying about patients whose insurance policies won’t cover their medical care needs, and who cannot afford to pay for their needs out-of-pocket. Single-payer healthcare may eliminate those issues, and encourage burnt-out physicians to begin practicing again, Flowers said.

However, Flowers believes the only way to bring about single-payer healthcare is through it becoming a grassroots movement.

“We’ll have to take this to Washington, D.C., and then the big battle starts,” Flowers said, mentioning the battle may take some time to fight, because insurance and pharmaceutical companies fund the majority of politicians’ campaigns.

Although Flowers and Master spent over an hour explaining single-payer healthcare during the question-and-answer session with the audience, some attendees left unconvinced that single-payer is the best solution to the healthcare crisis.

According to one Shepherdstown resident in the audience, who requested to remain unnamed for fear of retaliation, “I’m not convinced we’re getting to a place that’s significantly better. I’m an accountant. I’m looking for facts, and I’m not getting them. I’m willing to be persuaded, but I need facts, not platitudes, and they didn’t give them. I got very frustrated that I sat through and listened to that and learned nothing.”