I've been watching the health care debates with great interest -- like all other Americans, it will effect me -- not only as a patient -- which I've been many times -- but also as a wife of a physician -- which I've been for nearly 30 years. I can actually see both sides of this issue with a certain amount of clarity -- which I fully admit most folks -- on both sides of the issue -- really don't -- and many don't even try.
The fact of the matter is both sides have some good points and nobody needs to be marginalized because they disagree with someone else. After all, this country was built on freedom of speech (yeah, yeah, yeah, blah, blah, blah) and, if someone feels they have a grievance, then they are well-within their rights to express themselves -- especially to their congressmen/women who ought to be listening.
I find it very disheartening that these people venting their frustrations 0r simply sharing their stories have been vilified as "evil-mongers" -- personally, I would place child molesters or dog-fighting-sports-stars in that category. There's something quite sad about any American referring to another using that term just because they have a different opinion. And it seems to me that other protesters -- like those against the war (pick a war, any war) have made it quite clear that they are well within their rights to protest. Whether you like it or not, what's good for the goose has to be good for the gander.
I watched a lot of the town hall meetings (from various sources). There were times when I wondered if I was watching the same thing some of the commentators were watching. Yes, there were some instances of folks shouting when they shouldn't have been (including some of the representatives) but there were many more instances of people speaking calmly and politely -- but that wasn't really what was covered on the news. Instead, we heard about people toting guns -- I only heard about one case -- and that person had a permit to do so. Were others carrying weapons? Maybe -- but who really knows? Unless these were seen and counted, then saying such a thing is really making up a story where there is none. I also read about how these meetings were mostly full of disgruntled seniors -- well, I did see a lot of seniors -- and just as many middle-aged folks -- and younger. But, somehow, that got lost in the translation. I also saw a lot of questions get non-answers.
So, for what they're worth, here are more of my thoughts:
*Congress was getting ready to pass a bill which very few of them had even read. I don't care if it was 1 page or a 1000 pages -- it needed to be read. There also needs to be clear explanations, about what the bill contains, to any constituent, passionate or not, who asked a question. No bill -- of any size -- and especially one of such importance -- should be rammed through Congress without a thorough understanding by all concerned.
*To Congress -- you work for us. Period. Get off your high horse. Get off "we know what's good for you because you don't" kick. Get off the damn phone. And listen. And here's another idea: term limits.
*If people feel that they have to yell to be heard, then so be it. I've yelled at my husband and my kids when I didn't think they were listening to me. I know that's a different kettle of fish but...actually...no...it's not. It's what happens when folks feel that they are being ignored. Once people felt they were being listened to, things calmed down considerably. And, if you don't know that, you are not listening.
*Most people simply don't want non-medical bureaucrats telling them what kind of care they can receive. Or when they can receive it -- or whether they have to take the "blue" pill because it's cheaper than the "red" pill. I really don't believe most people believe there is any such thing as a "death panel", however, rationing will occur if the bottom line is, well, the bottom line. It's pretty much the only way to cut costs across the board. So, if you're healthy -- or have an illness which responds to conventional treatment -- great. Otherwise, it's a bit iffy.
*Tort reform -- you will hear people say that this makes very little difference in the cost of health care. You will mostly hear lawyers say this. And most of the members of Congress are -- you guessed it -- lawyers. Here's how it works -- doctors have to practice defensive medicine -- meaning ordering expensive, possibly non-needed tests -- because if they don't and something goes wrong, they will get sued because they didn't order the tests. The funny thing is, while this new plan would take some of those decisions away from doctors, the ability for patients to sue because of what will be termed substandard care will still remain. It's a no-win situation for everybody involved.
*There is a shortage of doctors already. It'll get worse. Why would anyone want to spend all of that money on medical school (and I assure you it's a lot -- and the tuition will not go down) and then not be able to practice what they know is best for their patients? And, believe me, there are a lot of doctors, right this minute, thinking about retiring earlier than they had planned -- just to get out of the coming chaos. Your best and brightest? Say bye-bye. They can do just as well in other fields -- which don't have as much restriction -- or stress.
*The American Medical Association does not represent the majority of physicians. In fact, only about 20% of doctors are members of the AMA. The AMA is mostly made up of academicians who do not see patients. My husband is a member but he's about to pull out. So, if you hear someone say, "well the AMA said...", do some research -- and ask your doctor if he's a member -- and why or why not.
I do believe that health care in this country definitely needs to be tweaked -- maybe it even needs a major overhaul. But, there has to be some rational, non-partisan -- and inclusive -- thought processes going on about this -- so far, I haven't really heard much, from either side, that's really brought forth a good solution. It can't simply be a contest to see who can do what and how fast -- and it can't be done overnight. You also can't just look at the big picture without also paying attention to the little details.
I leave you with this lightbulb moment quote from our president:
"UPS and Fed Ex are doing just fine. It’s the Post Office that’s always having problems."
For some of my other thoughts on health care, go here.
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When you are offended at any man's fault, turn to yourself and study your own failings. Then you will forget your anger...Epictetus