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Happy Dog Takes On the World

On Tuesday night, October 3rd, we went to the "Happy Dog" on Detroit Avenue in Cleveland for a "Happy Dog Takes On the World" program regarding what the United States can learn from healthcare models around the world. The format was that of a conversation moderated by Mr. Tony Ganzer of WCPN between Professor J.B. Silvers who is the John R. Mannix Medical Mutual of Ohio Professor of Health Care Finance at CWRU and Professor Joseph White, Ph.D., Luxenberg Family Professor of Public Policy at CWRU also.

Prior to the start of the program, we introduced ourselves to both panelists and learned that Professor Silvers was once the President and CEO of "QualChoice Health Plan and Insurance Company" of which Ms. Margaret W. Wong was a board member. We also got to visit for a few minutes with Ms. Sydelle Zinn, the wife of Professor White, and met Ms. Leah Gary, the wife of Professor Silvers.

To be sure, the ensuing discussion was very wide-ranging touching on all kinds of topics related to health care but the overriding issue was the overwhelming complexity of the United States health care system compared to that of other countries and, of course, who actually pays for it and who really benefits from it. One thing that is fairly certain is that its complexity has resulted in a lot of questionable costs and, as a byproduct, the creation of a great many jobs for people who either directly treat patients or engage in the processing the elephantine amount of paperwork for either the patient, the provider, and/or the insurance company.

Before we go further, let it be said that we have to call our insurance agent for help each time our (so far) good health requires that we consult a medical professional so we have to admit that we were more than baffled by the intricate details of what was being talked about but what kept us focused on the conversation was the great humanity and good humor of both Professor Silvers and Professor White and their fantastic grasp of the subject matter that frankly stomped us. We also found Mr. Ganzer's contribution quite worthy because he had lived in Europe for an extended time period and knew a lot about the Swiss health care system.

We did manage to ask a question, however, regarding what motivates a good doctor to immigrate to the United States. The answer given was it depends on where the doctor is from. Certainly the ability to earn more money matters at times but an equally good reason is that sometimes (largely due to lack of resources)  doctors are not able to practice medicine in their homelands in the way they were trained to do or believe in doing so they come to the U.S. to practice the way that they want and to realize their potential.

One part of the conversation that we did understand was when it was said that the real panacea for an improved healthcare system here in the U.S. was getting the insurance companies/providers, etc. to play by the same set of rules instead of the "patchwork" that we now have. Afterwards, we asked the panelists for some more information about this and they immediately referred us to websites where articles on this topic are posted.

Another point of intrigue came to the forefront in response to the question of whether or not the socially concerned should operate on the principle that health care is a human right. Interestingly, it was said that the more successful health systems don't use this as a foundation but instead consider it to be a matter of"mutual obligation" wherein all contribute based on ability to pay and use according to need. Now this, we believe, is what the U.S. should be striving to realize.


Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC



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