I’m really angry. Pissed as hell.
Having been out of the country for a few weeks, I’m catching up on low-urgency emails and newsletters and realizing that I have been out of the Healthcare Reform loop. Thankfully so, it turns out, although I’m paying for it now.
As I wade through the recent healthcare news, I feel alternating surges of disgust and outrage resulting from the deliberate calculated misinformation that is being circulated about the proposed healthcare plans for change.
Now, I’m not an extremist, I don’t hold fierce political opinions, and I tend to be a pragmatist when it comes to living with reality.
And I don’t care if rubbish emits from the mouths of Republicans, Democrats or Independents — rubbish is still RUBBISH.
I am a big proponent of Truth supported by facts. And I abhor fear-mongering as a cynical tactic to protect one’s turf, one’s pocket and one’s arse!
Top of my Outrageous Behavior list is the health insurance industry.
Take a look at this shocking interview by Bill Moyers of PBS (a man I much admire for his journalistic integrity and inquiring mind) with Wendell Potter, a former health insurance company executive-turned “informant”. It’s 40 valuable minutes long — that is, valuable to anyone who’s seeking the truth of (a) what is going on and (b) what some solutions might be.
Mr. Potter is actually confirming what so many of us have suspected for years.
Here’s another commentator, Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner attempting to inject reason into the national debate, and yes, he represents a Democrat’s point of view. But he does highlight more of the BS that the insurance companies are engaged in.
Second on my list is our screwed-up, perverse financing of health care…
… as is eloquently observed by David Goldhill in an Atlantic essay this month (How American Healthcare Killed My Father).
Accidentally, but relentlessly, America has built a health-care system with incentives that inexorably generate terrible and perverse results. Incentives that emphasize health care over any other aspect of health and well-being. That emphasize treatment over prevention. That disguise true costs. That favor complexity, and discourage transparent competition based on price or quality. That result in a generational pyramid scheme rather than sustainable financing. And that—most important—remove consumers from our irreplaceable role as the ultimate ensurer of value.
These are the impersonal forces, I’ve come to believe, that explain why things have gone so badly wrong in health care, producing the national dilemma of runaway costs and poorly covered millions. The problems I’ve explored in the past year hardly count as breakthrough discoveries—health-care experts undoubtedly view all of them as old news. But some experts, it seems, have come to see many of these problems as inevitable in any health-care system—as conditions to be patched up, papered over, or worked around, but not problems to be solved.
That’s the premise behind today’s incremental approach to health-care reform. Though details of the legislation are still being negotiated, its principles are a reprise of previous reforms—addressing access to health care by expanding government aid to those without adequate insurance, while attempting to control rising costs through centrally administered initiatives. Some of the ideas now on the table may well be sensible in the context of our current system. But fundamentally, the “comprehensive” reform being contemplated merely cements in place the current system—insurance-based, employment-centered, administratively complex. It addresses the underlying causes of our health-care crisis only obliquely, if at all; indeed, by extending the current system to more people, it will likely increase the ultimate cost of true reform.
How true these words ring to the MPH in me, that recalls playing the educational game of “solving” one of healthcare’s problems in class as clever masters students back in 1996! I was filled then with the hope and even idealism that sensible minds would apply intelligence and creative thinking to stave off the looming crisis.
Not so, any more. I despair for our democracy that runs the risk of strangling itself in the attempt to provide decent care to its own.
In case you are interested in facts to help you sort the wheat from the chaff (admittedly from another pinko leftist rag, my critics will proclaim), why not try the earnest New York Times Primer on the Details of Healthcare Reform? These words ought to calm any raging lefty or righty down – correct?
Yet I still want to vomit when I read the August 24th L.A. Times’ front page article Healthcare insurers get upper hand. It’s the smirking I can’t stand.
Hey, docs, don’t you get it? Every penny landing in the insurers’ pockets that goes to anything other than the actual provision of appropriate healthcare is one more penny you are going to have to battle for or walk away from!
If we/you don’t get fighting mad, find a way to overcome our differences or our in-the-way egos (witness the childish AMA-versus-Sermo battle to win the title of “One and Only Spokesgroup for American Doctors”), and stand up and lead, we’re going to get suckered into putting up with more of the same crap, playing our miserable roles while someone else conducts the concert, or giving up our practices with tails between our legs and huge sighs of relief at being OUT OF THERE!
Is that tolerable to you???