Health Care and Politics

My state medical association called me again today. They wanted to know if they could entice me to rejoin the association, as they were preparing to “battle” the insurance companies. You see, I had let my membership lapse some time ago. They were offering all sorts of free gifts, aimed at the practicing physician; clinical tools to assist with patient care, programs designed for patient education and the like.

I kindly declined and he asked if I could explain my reason for not wanting to rejoin. I explained that as a practicing physician, I was more concerned with the care of my patients than I was about the politics. The medical association has been “battling” someone for years and never really won any of those battles on their own. Not a single issue was brought by them on behalf of the physicin membership and carried through to a successful, promised conclusion.

More money thrown at politicians to get their vote or sway their opinion. Unfortunately, no one feels sorry for the physicians. The public doesn’t care about issues like fair compensation, malpractice rates, frivolous lawsuits, sacrifices made during education and training, or missed opportunities with family. It’s hard to be a politician and side with the physicians in the face of their constituency. Not a very popular thing to do at all.

We recently had a level III snow emergency. That means that NO ONE was allowed on the roads except for emergency personnel and anyone caught out could be arrested. But guess who had to get up to go to work that day while everyone else, including some of the snow plow drivers, stayed in bed; me. Again.

On my way in I was thinking that on a day like that physicians, nurses, patient care assistants, x-ray technicians, paramedics, policeman, and the occassional snow plow driver, were all on our way to work worried more about being on time than about our own safety. I wonder how many people, aside from our own family and friends, were worried about us or appreciated the effort we were making to keep everyone safe and healthy. Not many I bet.

So when the medical association or PAC’s come calling, I don’t want to hear it. If we (the people I mentioned above) can’t get the respect and appreciation of the people we sacrifice ourselves to take care of, what the hell do I care if the politicians get more of my money to try to convince a bunch of people that don’t give a damn in the first place.

Go back to bed. We’ll take care of everything for you, just like we always do.

Doc B.

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Advice is worth exactly what you pay for it.

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Health Care Debate; Now What?

Since my last post I have heard back from 2 out of 3 of the candidates. But not about healthcare. What I received were email after email regarding the same old rhetoric that their faithful are subjected to on a daily basis. BORING.

I should have known better than to contact them electronically. For the number of emails I received, they could have at least personalized one and addressed the question I asked. Instead I’m now on their mailing list.

Obama and Clinton are both great users of the electronic medium, but Obama more so than Clinton. McCain didn’t even have the decency to harass me with spam email. What’s up with that? I think he should irritate me at least as much as the Democrats! Stand up man. Be an equal opportunity offender!

Meanwhile I wait like everyone else. Any remaining debates will be more of the same with no substance and not much new to discuss. They are all going to sound like their radio and TV adds, going in one ear and out the other. I can hear the drone of their voices now… I can’t wait for the “commercial interruption”.

We may have to wait until someone is elected before we get any details about universal healthcare. Obama did promise to have something in place “by the end of his first term”. I think that’s optimistic, given the fact we haven’t heard any of the details. And probably because they don’t know what the details are yet themselves.

Zzzzzzzzz

Doc B

My opinion is free.
Advice is worth exactly what you pay for it.

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Universal Health Care; Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?

After the debate, I decided that there really wasn’t enough information in each of the candidates posted healthcare plans to really formulate an accurate assessment of them. So, I decided to try to contact each candidate through their websites and asked specifically for additional written information or, better yet, a conversation with a person who is “in the know” about their respective healthcare plans.

I received an automated response from Clinton and Obama with the usual dribble about being so busy because of all the emails and support they receive that they can’t respond to every email personally. But the emails were able to direct me to links that informed me about how to contribute to their campaign, become a registered member of their team or how to find more information about them (but not about healthcare).

Interestingly, McCain didn’t even respond with an automated email. I guess he’s feeling so comfortable being unopposed on the Republican front that he doesn’t need any more help.

Anyway. None of them seem willing to help a poor helpless healthcare provider figure out how their individual healthcare plans are supposed to work. If they can’t explain it to me and I can’t figure it out on my own, how the heck is anyone else going to be able to understand it?

We’re all on our own. You’ll all be expected to vote for a candidate when you have less than full disclosure about their positions. Sounds like another election of the lesser of evils. God help us.

Doc B

My opinion is free.
Advice is worth exactly what you pay for it.

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Health Care Post Debate

Oh boy, oh boy! What fun.

Obama and Clinton faced off this evening in Cleveland, Ohio during a debate at Cleveland State University. NBC carried the debate with Brian Williams and Tim Russert moderating.

And of course, I had to be blessed with the two of them discussing healthcare as the first issue of the evening. And of course, they went at it like we knew they would. According to Brian Williams, “14 minutes on one subject”.

They both gave their opinions of each others’ plans but nothing truly new was discussed. The basic differences between them are the same that we have all heard before. So, was there any benefit to the voter watching the debate? Probably not.

Again, the specifics or “nuts and bolts” of the plans are absent. I have a very hard time getting my hands around either of their plans. Not necessarily in terms of concept, but from a position of wanting to see HOW it will actually function. I want to see a step by step presentation of the plan. Take a family of four and show me how each of their “talking points” applies to them. SHOW ME how, and how quickly, their cost saving measures will be implemented. What improvements in quality, not just required documentation, can they show?

Eventually, some form of universal healthcare will be attempted, either by the Republicans or the Democrats. And, it doesn’t really matter which plan gets implemented. The whole process is going to be slow, painful, confusing, expensive and inefficient. It will take YEARS before the smoke clears and we see what we really have or don’t have.

Can you imagine the amount of effort it will take to make a change in an industry that is responsible for 16% of the GDP of the United States? Talk about a 400 pound gorilla.

Doc B
My opinion is free.
Advice is worth exactly what you pay for it.

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Presidential Health Care or Universal Health Care?

Now that the Democratic nominee race has turned into more of the typical “not so nice” form of campaigning, we finally see the finer points of attack between Obama and Clinton. Mailers sent out by Obama’s camp recently have blasted Clinton’s healthcare plan where it hurts the most. In the voter’s pockets. And Clinton is starting to look desperate and angry.

The mailer, which you can read here, focuses on the main point of contention betweenObama and Clinton; mandated coverage. While it may have appeared to be a plus when the plans were first announced, mandated coverage is now a weakness thatObama is exploiting with vigor.

Clinton’s plan, as I addressed in an earlier post, mandates coverage regardless of ability to pay. Yes, it does promise tax credits, but unless tax credits have changed, you don’t realize those credits until it’s time to file your taxes. And you still need to wait to get your refund. For families living payday to payday, they won’t be able to afford it when it’s mandated and will always be a year behind, waiting for the credit and refund. It also doesn’t say how much of a poor family’s premium the credit will cover.

The mailer also mentions “fines” for those who don’t purchase healthcare. So you make someone pay a fine who can’t afford healthcare in the first place, and then take MORE money out of their pocket? Sounds like the Sheriff of Nottingham.

When the weakness of mandated coverage was first discovered, Clinton made an appearance on THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOLOUS. He repeatedly and directly asked her about mandated coverage, fines and garnishing of worker’s wages. She skirted the whole issue initially, but George wouldn’t give up. Finally she did admit that if necessary, “we will have an enforcement mechanism — whether it’s that (wage garnishing) or it’s some other mechanism through the tax system or automatic enrollments”. She looked very uncomfortable while she said it too. You can read excerpts from the interview;

http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewNation.asp?Page=/Nation/archive/200802/NAT20080204b.html

http://abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek/story?id=4235448

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory?id=4235304

In the interview with George, Clinton seemed as if she really hadn’t thought through the whole issue, referring to congress and that they may “have some ideas” on how to mandate coverage. When is the last time congress came up with a practical or simple solution to anything? By the time they come up with their complicated,irrational and expensive solution, we’ll all be on Medicare.

Is the mailer factual? Absolutely. Does it make Clinton look bad? Absolutely. Is it smart to exploit someone’s weakness during a battle? Absolutely. Point to Obama.

The real winner in this battle is actually George Bush. Don’t hear much about the president with one of the lowest approval ratings in recent history anymore. He must be sooooooo happy.

Doc B

My opinion is free.
Advice is worth exactly what you pay for it.

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