When JFK challenged America to put a man on the moon, Congress did not stand in the way of this national goal. Today, when our president puts forth the challenge to provide quality health care for all Americans (a much less daunting task than a moon race) Congress with a powerhouse Democratic majority, has obfuscated and stymied the process while feigning cooperation and a shared vision. They have amended the healthcare bill to include the standard pork and nepotism. They’ve made closed-door deals with insider insurance and pharma companies. They’ve entirely cut out a single-payer option and all but shredded a workable public option. Meanwhile they’ve cried foul that a small group of “Blue Dogs” along with the fully flaccid Republicans have hijacked their bill. First of all, to rein in a handful of rogue status-quo politicians from your own party, simply expose them and their Phizer/Kaiser connections. Secondly, claiming the Republicans have submarined this bill is like blaming our struggles in Iraq on the few ineffectual Portuguese troops there. The Republicans had no teeth when this bill was first floated; you have since given them some – though still just baby teeth, they will undoubtedly grow into fangs. However, fanged or gummy, the Republicans don’t have the numbers, ignore them. However, the truth remains that Republicans and Democrats alike don’t like to embarrass their colleagues, no matter if they are cheating on their wives or cheating the American people out of affordable health care. Perhaps a little shining light here might just reveal one giant Congressional-Corporate orgy.
We are going from the Caduceus to THE HYDRA
In response to the article on the “primary care shortage” (Arizona Daily Star http://www.azstarnet.com/metro/287457 ):
It seems there are two kinds of doctors out there: those who get into medicine to help people and those seeking wealth. Dr. Linda Williams at El Rio Community Health Center is clearly the former, flouting the big bucks of an overpaid specialist. Dr. Williams and others devoted to patients rather than salaries deserve our appreciation and respect. I am left wondering why an anesthesiologist or a cardiologist (invasive or otherwise) deserves a $400,000 salary. If they are honest with themselves, they are probably wondering the same thing. Student loans of over $200,000? School teachers often accrue bills at the end of their professional training around $100,000. Yet they earn an average salary of $40,000, maintain a comfortable lifestyle and manage to pay off their loans. Perhaps the focus here should be on what constitutes a “comfortable lifestyle.” I certainly want my surgeon to make a decent living and get a good night’s rest each day, but I don’t know if he deserves an Italian sports car and 5 days of golf per week. Perhaps they deserve more because they literally have a life in their hands. However, so do airplane pilots, yet the airlines have systematically slashed their salaries in the last decade. Once again I offer you our teachers as an example; they have lives in their hands. Do they deserve a summer home and four-day ski weekends? Perhaps we need to rethink our priorities.
The article also tersely referred to the expenses of “delivering medicines” that have outpaced physicians’ salaries, as well as the fact that many primary care doctors can’t afford to provide health insurance for their support staff. It is impossible today to discuss the medical field without stumbling over the pharmaceutical and insurance companies (the elephants in the emergency room). Just like it is impossible to actually receive medical treatment without eventually dealing with these devils. Perhaps the doctors, like the patients, are also victims of these leviathans. Medical care was once so simple: a patient, a doctor and a hospital. Now, we have a multi-headed hydra that will eventually consume us all, unless we work together to kill it first.