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Single Payer Doctor Carol Paris Packs It Up

by Russell Mokhiber

Dr. Carol Paris is a psychiatrist. She’s practiced for 13 years in southern Maryland. And she’s fought hard for a single payer system.

Dr. Carol Paris is arrested for disorderly conduct outside of a U.S. Senate office building Tuesday, May 5, 2009 for speaking out at Sen. Max Baucus' Congressional hearings on health care reform. (Photo/South Maryland News) She’s even been arrested in Congress for speaking out for single payer. But now, she’s had enough.

She’s closing her practice.

And moving it to New Zealand.

“I’m so tired and weary of trying to practice sane, passionate, good medicine in this insane health care system in the United States,” Paris said last month in an interview at Union Station before walking over to protest in front of the Supreme Court against the Obama health care law and for single payer. “It impairs my ability to practice in a way that is ethical and passionate. I have a few years left in me to practice. And I’ve decided see what it is like in another country. I have a couple of friends who are psychiatrists who have done a sabbatical in New Zealand. And they said they are so sad to be back in the United States practicing because it was so much more sane and caring in New Zealand. I’m going to see what it is like for my own mental health.”

“The insanity here is that we have a system of financing health care in this country that is all about profit for corporate America and not about the health care of the people,” Dr. Paris said. “It is opposed to the health care of the people of America. You can’t be about profit and be about a social service.”

“Every day, I spend more time helping my patients figure out how to game the system, how to maneuver the system of health care insurance,” Dr. Paris said. “Maybe they can afford to see me and maybe afford medicine, but they can’t afford therapy. So, I’m robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

“Any recommendations I make for my new patients is based on the assumption that they will have no health insurance tomorrow.”

“I can’t speak to the system they have in New Zealand,” she said. “But the sense that I have is that the cultural imperative is premised on fairness. They argue about what is fair in New Zealand. I find that fascinating. I want to visit a country where people argue about what is fair instead of engage in political rhetoric about liberty and freedom.”

Does Dr. Paris feel any pangs of guilty about throwing in the towel?

“Six months of the year I’ll be back in Nashville, not working in the health care system, but working as an advocate supporting the effort to get single payer in the United States,” Dr. Paris said. “If we are so fortunate to accomplish that task before I am older and grayer, then I will practice medicine in the Untied States again. But not until then.”

Russell Mokhiber is with Single Payer Action - http://www.singlepayeraction.org.

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