Former Surgeon General Koop Urges Doctors to Give More Care to Poor, Uninsured
During a Nov. 9 speech at Daniel Webster College in Nashua, N.H., former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop called on doctors to "take the 'high road'" and provide more free health care to the poor and the uninsured, the Nashua Telegraph reports. Reminiscing about his early years as a doctor in the 1960s -- when he was compensated for about 30% of his work -- Koop urged today's medical professionals to adopt a "greater spirit of altruism." "Members of a profession are expected to give back to society," Koop said (Nelson, Nashua Telegraph, 11/10). Koop said that "in a strict constitutional sense, Americans do not have a right to health care," adding that the time for such a right "has not yet come." He likened Medicare to a "sort of laboratory of health care as a right," but criticized the program for only covering about 45% of seniors' medical costs and for not offering a prescription drug benefit. Koop added that Medicare "raises doubts" about a national health system, "specifically, how much health care would be a right -- basic, preventive or emergency." Koop also "lamented" how managed care companies can impede physicians from performing some procedures, but said that "despite the likely split in the next Congress, a patients' bill of rights will probably emerge" in the next session (AP/Providence Journal, 11/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.