REDDING, Conn. -- Like most Americans, Dr. Gil Lancaster of Redding realizes the United States needs to overhaul its health care system. The difference is the Redding cardiologist and physician at Bridgeport Hospital has put forth a comprehensive -- and workable -- solution that has the potential to solve the crisis.
Lancaster discussed his book, “EMBRACE: A New Healthcare Plan for the 21st Century,” at Mark Twain Library in Redding last week. The book details a new approach to healthcare, and was designed by healthcare professionals. Lancaster’s writing and the group’s plan have been praised heavily in reviews on Amazon.com, where all seven reviewers gave the book a “5-star” rating.
- Who : Dr. Gil Lancaster, Redding, and Bridgeport Hospital physician
- What : Author of " “EMBRACE: A New Healthcare Plan for the 21st Century"
- About the book: It advocates a new U.S. healthcare system that designed by healthcare professionals that completely changes how the national approaches medical care.
- Buy the book: On Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1532803966
“The Affordable Care Act did little to address the most pernicious problems of the U.S. healthcare system,’’ Lancaster said. “It’s an overly complex system that spends a huge amount of resources on treating disease rather than preventing it, and regards people differently based on their income, race, employment status and age. We’re advocating for a completely new healthcare system that would completely change the concept of how we approach medical care. We wanted to construct a modern healthcare system infrastructure that would allow 21st century innovations making healthcare more affordable, accessible and effective.”
EMBRACE stands for “Expanding Medical And Behavioral Resources with Access to Care for Everyone.” The plan would eliminate the Department of Health and Human Services, Medicare, Medicaid and even the Food and Drug Administration. “When a weed with a very extensive root system overruns your garden, the only solution is to uproot the entire garden and replant it,’’ Lancaster writes.
That’s what Lancaster’s model does. His plan is a public system that covers the basic healthcare needs of the entire population while allowing private insurance to cover what the public system does not. The plan would merge public and private sectors into one seamless system. It offers incentives for private insurers -- and their stockholders -- but significantly reduces the cost of private insurance. It also makes it easier for consumers to understand.
The plan would modernize the American system while maintaining the best aspects of the current structure. It would also enable physicians to deliver the best science-based health care to the entire U.S. population.
“It would set up a 'National Medical Board,' similar to the Federal Reserve Bank,’’ Lancaster said. “It would be an autonomous agency that has less political pressure and oversight. It would be run by medical professionals. It would have a public component, but with the ability to supplement with private insurance. The NMB would control the nation’s healthcare system the way the Federal Reserve controls the nation’s money supply.”
The book is a first for Lancaster, who has authored journal and medical articles for various publications. He said it took about three years to complete the work, but he has been working with other healthcare professionals to craft the plan for nearly a decade.
Lancaster said Congressman Jim Himes helped provide feedback for the plan. He also discussed it with Senator Chris Murphy back when he was a U.S. Congressman. “When we approached Murphy he said the ACA act had been all but written,’’ Lancaster said. “He told us not to come in and say that this idea was good. He wanted us to tell him constituents demanded it. We never really went in that direction. We were more academic. We took a little bit of break. Now, we’re taking a different tact.”
The plan would facilitate and incentivize preventative services. It would also have local agencies, with oversight by the national board, and develop a tiered system that will allow private insurance to be part of the equation. “Private Insurance would be very affordable, much more so than it is now,’’ Lancaster said. “It would be 10-20 percent of what it costs now and much more transparent.”
Lancaster believes his model also precedence. The Federal Reserve System was set up in 1913 as the result of similar upheaval with the nation’s monetary system. Lancaster believes that the time has come to establish a similar template for healthcare.
“The Medicare trust fund will be bankrupt by 2028,’’ Lancaster said. “Medicaid is a huge burden for states. We’d also eliminate Veteran Affairs, and they’ve been having problems as well. All those federal agencies will disappear, and for businesses it will eliminate the need to supply health care. Those are all things Republicans want. It would also please Democrats, with free universal healthcare from cradle to grave. It’s truly a bipartisan approach.”
What is clear, Lancaster said, is the need for an overhaul. “The truth is that we have one of the most chaotic health care systems that cannot be reformed,’’ Lancaster said. “The only way we can reform it is by making very complicated rules and laws that have unforeseen circumstances and side effects, which increase bureaucracy, costs and reduces the quality of what the provider can do. We believe EMBRACE would not only be economically and politically viable, but it would make it for better for the patient, provider, insurance companies and business. We are seeking to reorganize and consolidate our healthcare system into a ‘Single System’ healthcare system. We use this term to emphasize that the plan has many of the great aspects of ‘Single Payer’ systems, but incorporate aspects that are unique to the American system, such as including private insurance and separating healthcare administration from the federal government.”
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