Report From the States

Washington State --- Socialized Medicine, RIP

Thomas J. Mueller, MD

Like a ghoul from George Romero's classic horror film, Night of the Living Dead, the single-payer system keeps coming back, resurrected by collectivist politicians. This has particularly been the case in Washington State where it seems to come back year after year. Determined to once again shoot the ghoul in the head, Thomas J. Mueller, M.D., an AAPS member in that state, submitted the following resolution to the Washington State Medical Association House of Delegates. I hope the writing of this resolution will serve as an example of a tool you can employ to preserve the practice of private medicine in your own state. --- Ed.


WHEREAS, the insurance market in Washington has been devastated by the effects of previous ill-advised legislation, resulting in the fact that thousands are priced out of the market and insurance is unavailable in some areas; and

WHEREAS, managed care has proved to be both unethical and uneconomical, as shown in the following ways: managed care contracts put patients and physicians in an inherent conflict of interest leading to justified distrust and suspicion; managed care increases office overhead for physicians and also forces them to waste valuable time dealing with often incompetent managers and clerks, or seeing patients who demand excessive services because of perverse economic incentives; managed care has a large overhead for advertising, executive salaries and the vast array of personnel needed to contain the excessive demand; managed care profits only by denying medical services; managed care often involves the corporate practice of medicine and fee-splitting, two practices long recognized as unlawful and unethical; and,

WHEREAS, single-payer systems, such as the proposed Washington Health Care Trust has consistently led to: shortages, queues and rationing; increased administrative costs manifested by bloated bureaucracies, but often hidden by creative government accounting, which is notoriously lax or corrupt; hidden costs borne by patients in lost productivity or preventable suffering; preferential treatment of patients who have political influence; job actions by nurses, technicians and even physicians; flight of the most qualified professions, including physicians; recurrent budgetary crises in government; the politicization of medicine; constant pressure on physicians to meet budgetary constraints imposed by government; and

WHEREAS, the current crisis results from the destruction of true insurance and its replacement by prepayment through third parties, largely as a result of federal tax policy;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Washington State Medical Association actively oppose the Washington Health Care Trust (Initiative 245) and educate patients about the seductive but destructive nature of government-financed and controlled medicine; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the WSMA explore opportunities to offer its members and employees endorsed health insurance products, including medical savings accounts.

Dr. Mueller is an otolaryngologist in Everett, Washington. His e-mail is

Originally published in the Medical Sentinel 2000;5(5);180-181. Copyright©2000 Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS)