Northwestern University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration 2012 was highlighted by a talk by the world renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Benjamin Carson. Dr. Carson was the keynote speaker during a program that also featured the Alice Millar Chapel Choir and remarks from the University President Mortin Shapiro and the Mayor of Evanston Elizabeth Tisdahl.
Carson’s speech emphasized the importance of how we must continue the legacy and work Dr. King began by persisting in the work we do and standing up for causes and issues that are important for the collective good of our country. He also discussed the course America is taking to help fight health disparities and considered how the right to quality health would potentially fall under the various causes for equal justice that Dr. King supported and fought for. He cited the following quote by Dr. King.
“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”
After the conclusion of his formal remarks, Dallas Wright, a graduate student at the Medill School of Journalism, conducted a short interview with Dr. Carson. One of the last questions posed was regarding the most effective way to bring about health care reform. In his response, Dr. Carson shared his thoughts, showing that even though he is ingrained in his work at Johns Hopkins and the development of the Carson Scholars Fund, he still has his hand on the pulse of the ongoing debate over health care and time to formulate strong opinions regarding the steps that ought to be taken to reshape the nation’s health care system.
“What I’ve proposed is that we have a health account for those [uninsured] individuals. We’re all paying for it anyway, but we’re paying premium dollars so why not establish a fund for them, very much in the same model of the food stamp program which is replenished at the beginning of each month. And now when Mr. Smith gets a diabetic foot ulcer, instead of going to the emergency room and blowing half of his monthly account, he is going to go to the clinic. He gets the same treatment in both places, but in the emergency room they treat him and send him home; in the clinic they treat him and say “now Mr. Smith, we’ll get your diabetes under control so you’re not back here in 3 weeks with another problem”, and we begin to deal a little bit with preventive health care and with maintenance of health care. That’s where we begin to save a lot of money because we as a nation spend twice as much per capita on health care as the next closest nation and yet we have a tremendous access problem, tremendous amount of waste, tremendous amount of fraud, tremendous amount of just inefficiency, and I think one of the things we need to do is to get more health care providers involved in health care. Because, ah, it’s sort of like if the Golden Gate Bridge fell down, who would you get it to rebuild it, you know, structural engineers or people who like to talk about building bridges? Well, you know it’s the same thing with health care we need to get real people who actually understand it and who really know where the cost centers are to deal with it and not make it into a political football.”