A Surgeon Cuts to the Heart of the ObamaCare Nightmare
By Stella Paul
The day the Supreme Court ruled in favor of ObamaCare, a friend called me. He's an extremely dedicated, much-loved surgeon, and he was frustrated and livid in equal measure.
"I've actually had a lot of experience working in all different types of environments," he began. "I've worked in a government-run socialized medical care system, and I saw the waste and inefficiency.
"The longer people worked in that system, the less work they wanted to do, because the more you wanted to do, the more they dumped on you. So after a while you stop doing it, because they're not paying you to do more. Why should you do a difficult case, a difficult surgery that will take you hours and hours to do?
"You might start out wanting to do it, but after a while, you just run out of energy, because there's no incentive. You'd have to be a superhuman being to continue to work in that system and not be worn down by it.
"Because nobody wanted to work, it would take an hour to turn over the surgical room. In my private practice now, it takes ten minutes.
"And I saw tremendous waste: closets of stuff that never got used. Nobody cared.
"Capitalism has completely transformed my sub-specialty. When I was in training, a common procedure that I do now took 40 minutes, and people needed a month of recovery. Now it takes 10 minutes, and people can go back to work almost immediately.
"And all these improvements were driven by the financial incentive. Capitalism has had a tremendously positive effect on patient care and outcome in my specialty.
"But when I go to meetings now, I see that there's very little innovation going on. Everything's being impacted by ObamaCare, which, among other things, raises taxes on medical devices.
"You know, doctors are people, and we're being hammered on all sides here.
It's the paperwork; it's insurance; it's transitioning to electronic medical records, so the government can get their mitts into your practice. It's lawsuits; it's rising overhead and decreasing compensation; it's stress upon stress upon stress.
"And a lot of doctors are going to say, 'Forget it. I don't want to do this anymore.' Guys that are 5 or 10 years older than me are just going to give up and walk away.
"Why should I be a slave to the government? You know, it used to be that doctors would do charity work at a charity hospital. Nobody wants to do it anymore, because we're too overwhelmed.
"I work 60 to 70 hours a week, so how am I supposed to fight back against this? Most doctors don't have the time to lobby their congressman or go to Washington. If you're a doctor in the trenches, you've got a stressful job; you've got a family. You're seeing the same number of patients and making half the income you used to make. People are litigious these days, so you've got to worry about lawsuits. When are you going to find time to lobby a politician?
"And the American Medical Association threw us all under the bus, even though only 18% of doctors belong to it. These people are ivory-tower academics, and they're liberals. Most of them are in academic medicine; they get a salary with some sort of incentive bonus. They show up to work and go home. They're not in the trenches like me, figuring out how to compete with other doctors and pay for malpractice insurance and how to hire four people I need to implement the electronic medical records and two people I need to deal with insurance.
"And as a doctor, I get it handed to me both ways. My taxes are raised, and my fees are lowered.
"You know, young people today who go to medical school -- I don't know what to tell them. You couldn't pay me to go to medical school today. Some doctors are going to graduate with $500,000 in debt, and how are they going to make a living?
"You're 32 or 33 years old by the time you finish your training; you're married with little kids. You've been an apprentice for 16 years, and now you're faced with socialized medicine. That's the reality on the ground. How are you supposed to manage that?
"Fortunately, I still love what I do. But I don't know what's going to happen. I think we'll wind up with a two-tiered medical system: a private one for the rich who pay cash and a mediocre one for everyone else.
"When my dad was 91, he had a heart attack and ended up with a stent. He had two more good years after that before he died. After ObamaCare, some government employee is going to decide that he is too old for this and not 'approve' for him to have that procedure.
"It's just a feeling of helplessness. The only organizations that are fighting for doctors are the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, and Docs4 Patient Care."
After he hung up, I went to the website of Docs4 Patient Care and found this statement from its president, Dr. Hal Scherz:
The Supreme Court disappointed the majority of Americans who have voiced their opposition to Obamacare, by upholding significant portions of this truly abysmal law. Their decision has left Americans now wondering what it is that the Federal Government can't compel them to do. This is perhaps the worst decision in the history of the Supreme Court and emphasizes the importance of making the correct decision for chief executive, who controls who sits on this bench.
If you want to cure the sickness that's killing America, you'll find a powerful remedy in the voting booth in November.