Tuesday, March 23, 2010

This too shall pass.

For those not living in a bunker, (which is where I think some of the far-right leaning shack-in-Montana types may be), Obama and the Democrats passed through a health care bill on Sunday. There has been much misinformation regarding the bill, and plenty of unfounded rhetoric across the political spectrum. I have read through the Senate version, but not all of the "fixes" yet, and I might examine and opine on some of the details in some future postings, until then I am just going to offer a few general thoughts and observations for now:

1. Sadly, I fear that there will be many unintended consequences of the recent healthcare legislation. The shift towards "universal healthcare" will likely result in a two-tiered system in which those who are utilizing insurance will find themselves limited to very overcrowded and lower quality medical centers. This system is fairly common in New York, where some clinics have two doors into the same building-- one for those with insurance, and one for those that pay cash.

2. This bill does not implement a public option. Period.

3. The rhetoric on the left has been horrible. The White House, and many of the Democrats have basically said, "If you do not agree with this bill, you are for the status quo." This is intellectual bankruptcy and complete arrogance. It reminds me of George W. Bush's attitude regarding amnesty (and a few other issues!). Most individuals are in favor of access to quality health care. Disagreement with this bill does not equal a preference for others to have no access to healthcare.

4. The rhetoric on the right has been horrible. "Baby Killer?!?!" Are you kidding me? Fearmongering (see item 2 above) regarding things that are not in this bill is intellectual bankruptcy and counter-productive. Agreement with this bill does not equal a preference for the destruction of America.

5. While the Democrats seemed (to me) to make this a case regarding access, I think they are off target. This should be a discussion about cost. More importantly than "is this a right that everyone should have" is "how can we ensure that we don't bankrupt our country, as we are currently doing with health care costs?" If we cannot afford the system, access is moot.

6. To that end, the elephant in the room is exactly that-- medical economics. This bill does very, very, little to address the actual problem in how we practice medicine and its economic ramification. Simply put, we are going to need to change this. Too much time and money are wasted in the practice of overly defensive medicine, beaurocracy, and in dealing with systems outside of the doctor-patient relationship. Until we have a new weltanschauung on the methods and delivery of health care, it will not matter who is stroking the check, our GDP will not be able to cash it.

7. The current batch of Republicans who are whining need to take a long, hard look in the mirror, and use their pointer finger. The issue of burgeoning health care costs did not appear overnight. Their failure to address that with any viable legislation is a substantial reason that they got to play the role of by-stander this go around.

8. The current batch of Democrats should not be too quick to light their cigars (outside of DC or Maryland public places, please). This bill was rushed, ramrodded, and back-doored to death. Rep. Patrick Kennedy says (in an ABC interview Monday) to those that dislike this bill, "I would say, wait until you hear more about it." That's a problem; Americans should have heard more about it before the vote. The administration hasn't sold us on it. Again, it reminds me of how Bush handled the war, and I think it will result in a similar election outcome.

9. I just can never understand the uproar over the issue of who is paying for abortion. If ever a cause makes for strange bedfellows, this is it. This is one area where my pragmatist logic reaction causes a sharp pain behind and between my eyeballs.

10. As I will now be preparing to pay significantly more taxes, I might as well have fun. My favorite tax in the bill? Tanning Tax: A 10 percent excise tax on indoor tanning services.


tracy said...

Hello "Doc",
i apologize this does not have to do with the topic at hand.
i just wanted to tell you i was v e r y fortunate to be in therapy with a 4th year resident for 10 months (only). He was excellent and it was the most stable i have been in years. i miss him so much and wonder if he is okay and what he is doing now.
Maybe he was one of "Yours"? His initals, "ck". i don't exactly expect an answer. i just hope he is alright and doing well.
Thank you for the post on health care,
PS That is why i was wondering if you had an e-mail.....

Doc said...

Howdy Tracy,
It is great that you had such a good experience with the Resident, and I hope you continue to do well. I teach all of the residents at some point in their training, so they're all "mine" from that perspective--but I did not have a direct supervisory role in the case of the one you mention.
I know that the Residency Department would be very appreciative if you sent them that sort of feedback; they do try to promote a high quality practice from their residents, and it's nice to hear such praise.