The most sacred and unique of all human relationships is that between the doctor and the patient. This bond is based on absolute, mutual trust and faith. Key ingredients are honest communication, reciprocal respect, moral principles, and, ultimately, truth. This relationship is the result of choice; one human freely and willingly chooses to seek medical help from another human, who must then agree freely and willingly to provide such service. In no other relationship does an individual so completely submit to another. In no other relationship does an individual so intimately enter into the body and soul of another. Which requires greater faith and courage, the patient that allows the physician to drill into his skull, filet open her flank, or saw open his chest, or the physician that precisely dissects the tumor from the brain, transfers a kidney from one human to another, or holds a heart in her hands to literally mend it?
While anyone can fill the role of patient, a rare few can fill the role of physician. American physicians have recently been demonized and disparaged by our new President and liberal federal government. Truth be known, physicians are among the most intelligent, hardworking, self-sacrificing, conscientious, innovative, compassionate, charitable, trusted, and faithful servants in our country. Physicians are motivated by good to serve others at great cost and sacrifice to themselves and their families. Physicians devote a minimum of twelve years after high school to education and incur almost insurmountable debt to acquire the required skill, knowledge, wisdom, and courage. Precious few possess the intellect, work ethic, value system, and other traits required to become a physician. One might ask why any rational person would choose this profession; the answer is- it is a calling. Some of the best and the brightest feel called to serve others, and the primary goal is most certainly not financial gain. As with any profession, there are exceptions to the rule, and anecdotal cases exist of individuals who are not good physicians. Bad physicians are sanctioned or removed from the profession, and, most importantly, the patient has the choice to break the relationship and seek another physician at any time, at will. Conversely, the physician cannot freely leave the relationship at will.
Mr. Obama’s goal throughout his July 22nd press conference was to garner support for rushing through radical healthcare reform which will drastically increase government participation in healthcare. Mr. Obama stated that currently physicians can and will choose treatment for their patients based on financial reimbursement. He gave the example of the possibility that a physician who needed cash would choose to perform a tonsillectomy on a child rather than prescribe antibiotics for a sore throat. This is an appalling, unfounded accusation. Mr. Obama is not a physician and is not qualified to practice medicine. He is in no uncertain terms implying that his expanded government plan must be passed so that the government can dictate the treatment plan, because the physician might decide on treatment for the patient based predominantly on monetary gain. The government practicing medicine is a frightening and unethical prospect. It would be far better to have no healthcare coverage whatsoever than government controlled coverage, which empowers a group of nonmedical bureaucrats to dictate medical treatment. Mr. Obama might be surprised to discover that the Medicaid reimbursement to the surgeon for the tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy in a child is only $270.00 for a surgical procedure which carries the risk of hemorrhage and death. This absurdly low reimbursement most likely does not even cover the physician’s overhead. In fact, physicians routinely subsidize government insured patients with other income sources. While he is busy villainizing physicians, we are too busy, too overworked, and too perilously trusting to defend ourselves, naively clinging to the shred of faith that justice will prevail and good will conquer evil. The very physicians he accuses of greed and targets to squeeze even further are routinely providing charity care to countless patients who are illegals or who simply cannot pay. Not only do physicians treat these patients without receiving any pay, in fact, we commonly have to come out of pocket to provide medical supplies such as sterile gloves, instruments, and suture to treat the uninsured. Physicians do this by choice as we seek to help the human in need, often at great personal sacrifice and medicolegal exposure. We do this of our own volition, because we are called to serve others. We are not primarily motivated by financial gain as Mr. Obama contends. Sadly, this is a concept foreign to many politicians.
Dear American citizens, do not believe what he is saying. It is not the truth. Why does he lie? He lies because he is incapable of knowing the truth. He is not a physician. He has never been the doctor part of the doctor patient relationship. The methods by which physicians practice medicine are completely counterintuitive to him, so there is no way he can understand that the physician will actually choose to do the right thing for the patient. The key ingredients for the doctor patient relationship are foreign to him: mutual trust and faith, honest communication, reciprocal respect, moral principles, and truth are as foreign to him as words from a language he has never heard spoken and therefore cannot comprehend.While he preaches hope and change, he is oblivious to truth and trust. The unquestioning faith a patient places in the physician, the bond, is not a bond politicians can relate to. While a physician will provide medical care to patients for government established fees which do not even cover overhead, the politician or ruthless business person might instead choose to administer the anesthesia, crack the chest open, and then wake the patient up unanesthetized to renegotiate the fees before finishing with the surgery. The government must not be allowed to practice medicine.
The United States has the best healthcare system and the best physicians in the world. Medical miracles are performed and medical advances are occurring at exponential rates. Why are we recklessly changing the best healthcare system in the world and demonizing our doctors? Most Americans have health insurance, and most Americans are happy with it. Of those who do not have it, many choose not to or do not qualify because they are not United States Citizens. We are told there is a crisis: the system is broken and will bankrupt the country. In reality, the government run part is the part that is broken, in debt, and financially unsustainable. The privately run part is working and, in fact, is subsidizing the government run part. Why should we expand the broken part, the government run part? Medicare, Medicaid, Military Hospitals, and the Veterans’ Administration Hospital System are examples of the government run parts. Contrast Medicare, Medicaid, and the V.A. to the private insurance companies and, for example, the Mayo Clinic. It makes more sense to decrease or eliminate the broken, government part and expand the private part- the working part, the part that makes us the best in the world.
The inherent problem is that the physicians and the Washington bureaucrats cannot communicate. Their basic value systems and languages are different. Which will it be? Care over cost or cost over care? Doctor-patient relationship or senator-patient relationship? Will the most sacred of all human relationships cease to exist as the U.S. federal government practices medicine? In this crisis driven pursuit of change for the sake of CHANGE, what do we HOPE to get in exchange for freedom of choice, free will, honesty, respect, morals, truth, trust and faith? In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take away everything you have”. We must not allow the federal government to take over healthcare. If their consideration, understanding, and knowledge of their own bill is any indication of the way they will practice medicine, I shudder to think what will happen. Call and fax your congressmen. Act now. Sincerely, Kristin Story Held, M.D.