It is unfortunate that the well known quotation "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country" is merely a high school typing exercise and not a hallowed American rallying cry.
The current US health care system that leaves 30-40 million citizens uninsured and many others under-insured is too expensive for the quality of care it provides, is fraught with waste and rampant outright fraud and badly in need of meaningful tort reform. But for issues that escape reason other than those that benefit their personal political careers, many of our elected public servants in Congress feel that delaying, blocking or ignoring the above mentioned urgent issues is in the best interest of 'We the people.'
In surgery, there exists a time honored aphorism: all bleeding stops eventually. When a patient is severely bleeding, significant, decisive and occasionally shocking measures must be quickly undertaken to save a life. To stall, hesitate or otherwise fail to act boldly during the 'golden moments' of life is often followed by dire consequences for those most in need.
As of March 1, 2010 Congress has failed to meaningfully address the issues related to health care reform and the 22% reduction in reimbursement to physicians for treatment of Medicare patients. States like Florida and Arizona with large Medicare populations will be ground zero for the effects of Congressional apathy. Doctors in these states will be forced to limit the number of Medicare patients in their practice in an attempt to improve what is known as the 'payer mix'. They will be forced to deny and/or delay appointments to American seniors to allow more time to see patients with better paying insurance plans. As distasteful as this scenario may be for both patients and doctors, it is very soon very likely to become the reality for millions of Americans.
Legislators, much like surgeons, have accepted the responsibility and burden to care for those that at many times cannot adequately care for themselves, often in circumstances and situations that are far from ideal. As unfair and at times difficult as this may be, the task remains. Legislators, much like surgeons, must either stand strong and meet the challenge with courage and conviction or get out of the way and let a person of sufficient character make a difference.
Sir Winston Churchill famously remarked "The Americans Will Always Do the Right Thing...After They Have Exhausted All the Alternatives." But at what cost to the American people? As politicians, who enjoy fantastic health care and insurance, posture and protect their personal political future... Who's stopping the bleeding?
Would legislators be so inclined to wait and 'start over' if their wives were the ones being denied coverage for breast cancer treatment or their children's chemotherapy was stopped and deemed to be related to a pre-existing illness?
Follow Dr. Johnny Benjamin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/drjcbenjamin