August 31, 2014

Cancer Society exec urges politicians to consider human side of health care debate

Otis Brawley

The American Cancer Society’s chief medical officer met with Iowa’s governor Wednesday, warning that the political fight over the national health care reform law isn’t solving the core problem. Dr. Otis Brawley is also a professor at Emory University in Atlanta.

 “I’m hearing a lot of talk amongst politicians that end up talking about lots of numbers and become devoice of the fact that we’re talking about human being here,” Brawley says, “human beings who have, I think, an inalienable right to health care who are not getting that health care that they deserve.”

Brawley says politicians have “forgotten” the human side of the debate over health care reform.

“This health care reform thing is an interesting political and philosophical discussion until you or your loved one is the person who is sick,” Brawley says, “and you or your loved one is trying to figure out how you’re going to pay for the $80,000 a year cancer drug.”

Brawley says politicians need to stop quarreling about health care “rationing” and start devising a “rational” approach to ensuring all Americans have access to quality health care services.

“We have a group of people who are not getting the services that every human being should get,” Brawley says, “And, ironically, we also have a group of people who over-consume health care and are actually harmed by their over-consumption of health care.”

Brawley says he’s “open” to better solutions than he’s seen so far, but the federal “Affordable Care Act” seems to be the only viable option today to address access issues. Brawley met with a small group of legislators and then had a private meeting with Governor Branstad on Wednesday.