MAY 23, 2021 

Published by the Los Angeles Times


To the editor: Dr. Robert Pearl asserts that “doctor culture,” taught and learned in medical schools, is destroying the U.S. healthcare system.

I disagree. America has no healthcare system. We have a healthcare industry that supports profit-making healthcare enterprises, regardless of whether or not they serve the public interest.

We have a non-system that allows poor and minority Americans to suffer disproportionate morbidity and mortality. Maldistribution of wealth and education have made our ZIP Codes accurate predictors of health and longevity. We have allowed poor and minority areas to become permanently polluted with lead, other toxic metals, hydrocarbons and diesel particulates.

Our insurance companies take the premiums as profit and avoid their fiduciary duty to pay for the services rendered. Our pharmaceutical industry has gouged the American public while creating an opioid epidemic. Healthcare industry executives have garnered exorbitant compensation while shortchanging patients and those providing the care.

We have spent decades debating whether healthcare is a right or a privilege, while never acknowledging that healthcare is a universal necessity. Our healthcare problems do not begin or end with doctors, nurses or any individual group. They begin where we deny that healthcare is a common good.