Gunn, the chief operating officer at Sloan-Kettering, told Brill. “If you could figure out a way to pay doctors better and separately fund research… adequately, I could see where a single-payer approach would be the most logical solution.”

Brill sees it somewhat differently: “The real issue isn’t whether we have a single payer or multiple payers. It’s whether whoever pays has a fair chance in a fair market.” Yet he still roots for government power to strip away some of the tremendous leverage held by healthcare providers in today’s health market.

Logically, that circles back to how much doctors should get paid, who pays for their education (Medicare finances some of it), how much nonprofit hospitals should profit, and how much drug and device manufacturers really need to earn. Those questions have been on the shelf for decades. Brill’s contribution dusts them off, exposing them once again to scrutiny by the public and the press.

Maybe Brill has finally succeeded in breaking down the fences that have penned in what’s possible to discuss when it comes to healthcare, and offering to Americans some previously out-of-sight, out-of-mind topics for honest, objective consideration. In his morning on the Sunday network news circuit, the roundtable participants on ABC’s This Week raced as hard as they could to fence in the discussion and cut Brill off, but they didn’t completely succeed.

The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow @USProjectCJR for more posts from this author and the rest of the United States Project team. And follow Trudy Lieberman @Trudy_Lieberman.

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Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.