The Healthcare "Debate"...some considerations

It seems like all the "blowhards" and "talking heads" just don't want to stop and think about what "health care reform" COULD and SHOULD look like in these United States. The President, on more than one occasion, has tried to state what requirements any meaningful legislation must contain. While I didn't vote for Barack Obama to move into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, he is now our leader, and I have tremendous respect for his willingness to tackle this (and other) issue(s) head on. Here's what I see as the major "adjustments" and "considerations" for meaningful health care reform:

1) Preventive Maintenance. We Americans, for the most part, are just not "maintenance-minded." We far prefer to "repair" a health situation than we are disposed towards preventing the crises in the first place. A nurse practitioner recently told me that it is much easier (in the long run) for me to avoid diabetes and obesity than it is to "repair" myself if I come dangerously close to said conditions. But, in contemporary American thinking, "why should I avoid something that the doctors can fix anyway?" And thus, most of us are not disposed towards healthy preventive maintenance. It's far simpler to take a pill, or an injection, or an IV than it is to exercise more vigorously than we do (and for some of us, ANY exercise would be more vigorous than what we currently do--which is NONE.). Healthier lifestyles is the FIRST STEP to meaningful health care reform.

2. Importance of Primary Care. Far too many people still use the EMERGENCY ROOM as their "primary care facility." Many people (my observation from working in two hospitals in two different parts of the country) will go to the Emergency Room for things that are not even close being an "emergency." Many--both the privately insured, and the publicly insured--don't want the responsibility of seeing a regular they just show up at the Emergency Room whenever they jolly well feel like going. And current FEDERAL LAW states the ER personnel must give them medical attention. The Emergency Room is the MOST expensive and least effective means of continual medical care. The consuming public MUST stop abusing the Emergency Room facilities. These facilities are meant for EMERGENCIES only.

3. Insurance Reform. I am sick and tired of some non-medical professional at the insurance company telling MY primary care physician what treatments he can render on my behalf. While I understand the insurance companies must remain financially solvent....their SOLVENCY is not the first health is! I fully understand where the "concern" is about abusing the system...and that's where 'self-policing' and putting "restraints" on the medical facilities will come into play. We must curtail the abuse--HOWEVER, the insurance company CANNOT be allowed to dictate the level and quality of treatment my MEDICALLY TRAINED physicians can render on my behalf. Let the physicians do their jobs....

4. Tort Reform. Over the last 30+ years, the United States of America has become a LITIGATION-addicted nation. Doctors, nurses, and the rest of the medical professionals are HUMAN...just like the remainder of humanity. Mistakes will happen. Let me say that again: MISTAKES WILL HAPPEN. Having said that, every effort...ABSOLUTELY EVERY EFFORT must be made to minimize medical errors....and we must RESIST our urge to just "sue the daylights" out of everyone who unwittingly makes a mistake. These people (who make mistakes) should be held accountable...but running to the nearest ATTORNEY to file a lawsuit should be the ABSOLUTE last thing a Christian should be doing....We must have meaningful, workable tort reform where medical issues are concerned.

5. Lower the temperature. I remember someone saying (maybe it was from seminary days) that we need to have more "light than heat" in these debates. TOO MUCH HEAT from people who are swallowing all the misinformation that they can find. Too many people upset about things that have never been proposed, and will never be proposed. Too many people RUNNING OFF at the mouth instead of using their brain to think/process...or using their keyboards to send thoughtful/reasonable emails to their elected officials. A dear lady at my local church was all up in arms about "Obamacare"--and then when I asked her exactly what "Obamacare" would include, she had NO IDEA...but she was upset! She was downright frothing at the mouth...almost delirious...but had no idea what she was supposedly upset about....Needless to say, her credibility sunk like the Titanic...and much more quickly, I might add.

Like the rest of the nation, I am waiting to see what the proposals are for health care reform. I am convinced the BEST, most effective way to get good legislation and meaningful health care reform is to be involved in the process.

NOT frothing at the mouth, acting like an idiot, and behaving childishly. Every congressional representative (House and Senate) has an office with staff who answer their telephones. They all have email addresses. And if you are really old-fashioned, sit down and write them a reasonable, well-nuanced letter.

And turn LIMBAUGH/PALIN and Company off for a change. The silence will do you good.


Bill (cycleguy) said...

Phil: I may not always agree with you (imagine that) but several ideas ring here. One is the tort reform. No question that doctors paying over $250k for malpractice has affected the cost of going to one. Also, not sure if you have been reading my blog but I was taken down by a dog while riding my bike one month ago today. I am still waiting for the man's insurance company to even contact me. I am not a suing person but if they don't get their rear is gear and start paying the bills I will have to find a lawyer. Do I want to? No. Will I? If I have to get my bills paid (which already includes 2 MRIs and several doctor visits for them alone). Reform is needed but it needs revamped IMHO. Hope the transplant is moving along.

Bill (cycleguy) said...

Missed out on the email comment.

Ovi said...

Hey Phil, great blog! I just found it today from your facebook page; good stuff.

You make a lot of good points, and I agree with a lot of them, but I still don't understand why this has to be a government issue, especially a federal issue. From your own points, it seems like federal laws have made us worse off. Like you say, they had good intentions, but nobody pays attention to the unintended consequences.

It seems to me like the government likes to treat us like children. "You can't save for your own retirement. Don't you worry, we'll take money out of your paycheck and save it for you!" And it seems like the same thing is happening in the health care debate.

It seems like people argue the merits of certain legislation but ignore the greater question of What is the governments role in this? Is this part of their enumerated powers in the Constitution?

Great blog! I hope I can read it more often! Good luck on Saturday

btw, I disagree with you that its a negative that too many people are acting idiotically and irrationally at town-hall debates. It makes C-SPAN so much more interesting to watch! ;)