Curiously it seems just about each time I conduct my own, random non-scientific poll of health care providers (hospital administrators, nurses and doctors) about the impact of the administration’s proposed expansion of the nation’s health care system, I generally get the same reaction: It’s going to get worse. (As in making it worse for patients and health care specialists.) Not knowing the political backgrounds or leanings of most of these folk, I can’t deduct whether they tend more toward the Democrat or Republican plans. Not that it matters. What does matter, is aside from the individual patient these are the folks who have the biggest stake in any nationalized health care plan, yet seem to be getting left out of the government’s decision making process.
I can say, speaking from my own recent experience, as one who has a private voluntarily selected health insurance plan (an HMO no less), I would happen to agree with my poll participants. The thought of government run health care is appalling on so many levels. But I only have to recall “one” of my own recent health care experiences as a privately insured citizen, to be reminded why. Wading through so much red tape and time consuming ad nausea appointments to get all the approvals and sign offs just for a simple outpatient request – did I mention that I do have insurance – my suspicions have been confirmed. My most recent scenario was an exercise is extreme patience (or test of sanity) at the least. But I have access to the best care. A little inconvenience for the sake of my long term health is worth it, I say to myself. Though the mind can’t help but wonder – having had to jump through so many hoops as one of the nation’s insured majority, with my pick (after my primary signs off) of specialists, I can only fathom what will happen if/when the government gets to tell the unsuspecting uninsured (and eventually the forcibly insured) what they do and don’t need should they “choose” (penalties will likely ensue if you don’t) the government plan, which physicians and nurses can do what procedure, how many are allowable at a given facility, how many procedures that hospital is limited to, whether you’re the one who meets the cutoff point and oh, good luck waiting for that government approval before the nurse can even clip your toenail. The word disaster comes to mind each time I think about it. There are problems with the health care industry that need to be fixed to be sure but solutions don’t begin with government driven care.
Among the sea of suggested changes a glaring issue getting lost in the debate, one non-profit doctor tells me, is the public’s demand for quality care. Quality care, care of the U.S. government? That’s an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one. Based on what liberals are proposing, quality will be pushed out for efficiency and “specialists” will find themselves with a new specialty (hawking their services on the black market.) The concept of supply and demand will simply be replaced with an undersupply – of mediocre but “available” government health specialists you’ll have access to when you’re number comes up.
As Congressional Republicans looking to bring balance to the debate work to find some cohesion around a plan of their own and Democrats debate the number of government mandates to impose, there is some light at the end of the tunnel (or at least a flicker) in the influx of organizations advocating for actual patients (you know those of us who actually want to have a stake in our own health care choices.) From Conservatives for Patients Rights to Docs4PatientCare, these activists are beginning to shine the light on what’s ailing our health industry.
While the debate continues over whether a bipartisan plan will actually become a reality, the Obama administration talks about all the money families will “save” with its new plan. I’m wondering if one’s sanity is included in that scenario?
-Tara Wall is news anchor and political analyst at the The Washington Times and editor of TheConservatives.com.