SAN DIEGO, May 16, 2012 - Americans are hard workers, but they are still human. People, if given the opportunity—especially in times of economic crisis—will generally cede their industrious energy to the more mundane proclivity of accepting government hand-outs. This is what the President was counting on when he signed on to nearly three thousand painfully complex pages of health care reform legislation in late March, 2010.
It was all too easy for the nation’s commander-in-chief to wax poetic with references to Franklin D. Roosevelt and the new New Deal. Aahhh, and what a shame that was, because a nation of over three hundred million people could have really used a dose of harsh reality at that time. Instead, they were fed a diet of false “hope” and divisive “change.”
The healthcare system in the United States is not ‘broke’, as the leader of the free world is apt to say; on the contrary, it is functioning at a remarkably high level of skill and quality. Sure, our melting pot and diverse demographics can make for easy targets when crystallizing the bigger positives into disparaging negatives about poor statistical standing. But the discerning reader must delve a bit deeper to see the real landscape of American medicine.
As an example, Americans spend more time and energy (and money!) trying to care for, deliver, and save the lives of premature infants than any other nation on earth. No society has more sophisticated and well-developed neonatal intensive care units than the good ‘ol U.S. For this reason, our nation aborts far less fetuses than may be apparent, and this attempt at saving human lives translates to higher neonatal mortality rates in the first few months after birth than in many other nations. Cuba, for instance, is often quoted as having the best—or one of the best—neonatal mortality stats in the world; what is not disclosed by partisan handlers bent on beating down the status quo stateside is that Cuba also has the world’s highest abortion rate. If a baby is never born, it cannot become a ‘neonatal’ statistic.
All of this comes down to leadership in American politics—not partisan haggling and deal-making to score a few extra ballot box victories. Most American doctors spend about 50% of their time and skill set giving completely free care. That’s right: no payment, no favors, no bartering, and no benefits. Add to that list ‘no tax write-offs’. That last point must be underscored, as many other professions in the United States can legally write off bad debt. Physicians cannot, by law, get a tax break because a patient did not pay for their medical care.
So, in the end analysis, in mid-2012 in the run-up to a very crucial presidential election, American citizens are left with a discouraging array of false choices, false promises, and confusing messages on healthcare. A dreadful amount of money and resources have been wasted on the national time clock trying to push, pass, and now save a fatally flawed piece of health system reform legislation called the ‘Affordable Care Act’ or ‘Obamacare’.
For crying out loud, let’s put the Obamacare demon to death, once and for all. Then, let’s allow non-politician medical professionals (doctors, nurses, technicians, and administrators from community medical settings all across the land) re-created a workable law—one that could easily be written on one-tenth the amount of paper and with one-hundredth the amount of angst.
Doctor Dorin is the Founder and President of America’s Medical Society, a physician and patient-centered organization committed to furthering education on medicine, medical-political issues, and health system reform in America.
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