Dr. Gray's Straight Talk

Honest and blunt healthcare discussion and advice.

Posts Tagged ‘free market’

When Government Plays Doctor

Posted by Dr. Gray on Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A good friend of mine posted a wonderful piece recently that I felt worth reposting here.

This week, concerns about swine flu have dominated the media and many government officials. While the American people should be made aware of infectious diseases and common sense preventative measures, much of the hysterical reaction from government only serves to remind us how detrimental to your health it can be when government plays doctor.

As a physician, I have yet to see any evidence that justifies the current level of alarm. Influenza typically kills around 36,000 people every year in this country and hospitalizes a couple hundred thousand. So far there are only a handful of confirmed deaths attributable to this strain, and most of those sickened have or will fully recover. Every death is tragic, but I see no reason to deal with this flu outbreak any differently than we typically deal with any other flu season. Instead, government in its infinite wisdom is performing even more invasive screening at airports, closing down schools and sporting events, and causing general panic.

We had a similar outbreak in 1976, with only 1 death from the flu, but mandatory vaccinations killed at least 25 before the program was abandoned.

When government gets involved in healthcare decisions, the cure is so often worse than the illness. And yet, this administration will likely consolidate the government’s power over your health with sweeping new reforms that are already being discussed in the Senate.

Government has not improved healthcare, and has not made it cheaper. Quite the opposite; costs have skyrocketed, and quality has gone down in many ways. Gone are the days of the country doctor making house calls, or of voluntarily giving away medical services at charity hospitals. The bureaucratization of healthcare these past 45 years has made things worse. It saddens me as a doctor that physicians are less and less accountable to patients, but more and more accountable to government red tape, insurance companies and attorneys. It seems so perverse to me that important medical decisions that will directly affect the lives of all or nearly all Americans are being hashed out behind closed doors in Washington rather than between doctors and patients.

There is perhaps nothing more valuable to a human being than his or her health, which is why I’ve always considered the practice of medicine so crucial to our well-being. Any intrusion by government into the privacy and trust between doctor and patient is detrimental to the art of medicine. It distorts the whole dynamic of who the client really is when doctors must answer more to government or insurance companies than to their patients. The best solutions to improving quality and lowering costs of healthcare would be measures that put decisions back into the hands of patients and doctors, where they rightfully belong. I have introduced HR 1495 The Comprehensive Healthcare Reform Act, which promotes health savings accounts and tax deductibility of healthcare costs as an important step in this direction.

The unfortunate reality of this recent health crisis, as with any crisis, is that it presents opportunities that the unscrupulous will take advantage of, while the fearful become more compliant.

Wow! Pretty profound… yet truthful… statements. I wonder if we can really understand and take to heart what he has said. Let’s break it down, huh?

  1. Although tragic, the swine flu situation is being blown out of proportion for ulterior motives
  2. That motive involves more government control over your health care decisions
  3. Increased government involvement has actually caused the rise in health care costs over the past 45 years
  4. Increased government involvement has also led to a decrease in the quality of care provided
  5. You and your interests are becoming less and less important with the expanding role of government

When are we going to wake up? How far must government go before you learn that they do not have your best interest in mind?

A couple years ago, there were outcries because The Patriot Act was seen as an invasion of privacy and freedoms. Yet, when the government proposes to take total control of your health care decision making ability… nothing. What was the most complained about provision of The Patriot Act? Wiretapping of overseas phone calls. Phone calls… oh the outrage! But now… they want control of YOUR PERSONAL ABILITY TO MAKE YOUR OWN HEALTH CARE DECISIONSand nothing???

Partisanship is not only detrimental to individual and collective good, it is also STUPID. Wake up people. Take a whiff of that crap they’re shoveling before you swallow it whole.

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Your Health Is No Longer Your Choice

Posted by Dr. Gray on Thursday, February 12, 2009

I am relatively dumbfounded right now. As part of this latest act of socialism from our federal government, they have completely done away with privacy and freedom with regards to health care. DID YOU HEAR THAT AMERICA? One of the most basic and cherished privacies we have enjoyed… the freedom to guide and direct your own healthis gone.

Yes. Slipped into the Porkulus bill, is an entirely new bureaucracy in Washington known as the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology. Sounds beneficial, huh? Yeah… let’s coordinate information. But wait. What does that really mean? Well, there are so many ramifications to this we’re going to have to look at them one by one:

  1. Mandates that all medical records will need to be kept electronically. – While this sounds good on the surface, this is just the start of the nightmare. Requiring electronic records means that several hundred thousand health care offices around the country, from medical doctors to dentists to chiropractors down to rural nurse practitioners, will be forced into a huge financial investment in new computers and software in order to comply. Think that’s all? Nope… don’t forget all educational institutions that have any health-related program. Who do you think is going to pay for this? The doctors? The hospitals? NO! WAKE UP! Those offices, hospitals, doctors, and schools will just raise their prices to cover the new expense… so you pay for it.
  2. Mandates access to those medical records by the federal government. – Yes, now that all of your health care information and secrets are in electronic form, the government wants access to review them any time they want. How would you like the government knowing all the details about your drug rehab? Or alcoholism treatments? Abortion? Sexually-transmitted disease diagnosis? Pregnancy status? Blood test results? But, why would they want this information?…
  3. Establishes a new federal bureaucracy that removes doctor or patient choice and discretion. – Although the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology sounds harmless, its true purpose is to monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. Now, don’t miss it… did you really read what that sentence said? They want to “monitor” your treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems “appropriate and cost-effective.” In other words… it does not matter what you want, or what your doctor recommends… you are going to do it their way, or else. According to Tom Daschle, who’s book these policies are based on, doctors have to give up autonomy and “learn to operate less like solo practitioners.” What’s meant by “or else?”…
  4. Establishes penalties for non-compliance. – Doctors, health care offices, and hospitals who are not “meaningful users” will be subject to penalties, fines, injunctions, and/or charges. “Meaningful users” is not defined in the bill. That definition and the increasing stringency of enforcement will fall to the Secretary of Health & Human Services. So, if you decide that you don’t want to do what some bureaucrat in Washington says you should, good luck finding a health care practitioner that will provide an alternative because he faces fines, loss of license, or even jail. Wooo hooo… hooray for slavery! Isn’t socialism fun? Now… can you imagine a politician sticking their neck out and being the one responsible for denying and rationing health care? Of course not, so… What penalties will your doctor face, and who will make these “tough” decisions that elected politicians won’t?
  5. Establishes another expensive bureaucracy known as the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research. – The goal of this new group is to slow the development and use of new medications and technologies because they are driving up costs. In other words… Punishment and rationing of care will be meted out by this group so the politicians won’t be associated with their decisions to place their cost savings ahead of your health.

Do you realize this Porkulus bill allocates more funding for these bureaucracies than for the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines… combined? There is nothing “stimulating” about these new provisions. But, why would they stick something like this in a “stimulus” bill, you ask. Well, in 1994, Tom Daschle supported President Bill Clinton’s failed massive health care overhaul. He said the main reason for failure was “debate and delay.” In other words, when people actually sat down and talked about it, they realized that not only could we not afford it, but we didn’t want it and it would not be the best option for the citizens of this country. A year ago, Daschle wrote that the next president should act quickly before critics mount an opposition. “If that means attaching a health-care plan to the federal budget, so be it,” he said. “The issue is too important to be stalled by Senate protocol.” So… the people be damned, we need to sneak this in before anyone can actually figure out what we’re doing.

Congratulations, sheeple. You’re getting the unintended consequences of what you voted for. Land of the Free… right. Home of the Brave… where? The American populace isn’t brave anymore. Neither are they free. Newsweek’s cover article this week states, We Are All Socialists Now. It’s not an discussion or article that even hints that this goes against everything The Constitution stands for… it’s an article saying that we are all socialists now… and anyone who opposes it better fall in line. I found this quote particular telling: “The sooner we understand where we truly stand, the sooner we can think more clearly about how to use government in today’s world.” You get that? The sooner you understand where you truly stand… There you go. Where do you truly stand? Newsweek has made it clear where they stand. They choose bondage. They’ve relinquished their freedom. They will capitulate to the almighty federal government at their own peril. No longer free… no longer brave…

Welcome to the United Socialist States of America.

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Sick In America – Part Six

Posted by Dr. Gray on Monday, October 13, 2008

Let’s wrap it all up. Much of this episode gives real-world discussion and evidence of how and why returning to a more free market-weighted system will be more beneficial, for more people, for less money, with more advancements, etc.

Hope you all enjoyed this video series. Since it has become such a hot topic, I may write a post with more of my own personal feelings about how health care should be run in this country. Perhaps we could get a good dialogue going in the comments section.

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Sick In America – Part Five

Posted by Dr. Gray on Monday, October 13, 2008

Only one more part after this. Thanks for following along everyone.

This episode begins to discuss different alternatives to universal health care, or the current trend of employer-sponsored insurance in America. What does it all boil down to? Taking more personal responsibility, and an active role in one’s health care process. This may be the best segment in the series.

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Sick In America – Part Four

Posted by Dr. Gray on Monday, October 13, 2008

And now, a more in-depth look at the difference between private and public responsibility. Nice section in the middle where Michael Moore is interviewed and shown some good rebuttal evidence. His answer? “Don’t show anyone those examples, they’re horrible.” Well, no kidding, Mike. The truth hurts.

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Sick In America – Part Three

Posted by Dr. Gray on Friday, October 10, 2008

And, now a further examination of so-called “free” health care in Europe and Canada.

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Sick In America – Part Two

Posted by Dr. Gray on Thursday, October 9, 2008

Part Two discusses how insurance works, and begins to question how we think about and use insurance. Good quote from John: “So when people complain that (from multiple politicians) ’40 million are uninsured, 45 million, 46, 47 million uninsured,’ I say the bigger problem may be that 250 million of us have health insurance.”

Wow! Now that’s a statement that goes against the status quo! Great discussion, and this is where the debate begins to heat up.

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Sick In America – Part One

Posted by Dr. Gray on Thursday, October 9, 2008

In this politically charged time, I thought it was a pertinent time to revisit this discussion. Over the next few days, I’m going to post the six parts of a report that John Stossel did for ABC. Like his conclusions or not, he’s done a fairly good job at presenting his case.

Our economy is a wreck, primarily due to spending. Spending by our government, and spending by ourselves. For too long, we have tried to live beyond our means, and that goes doubly so for our federal government. And now, with our economy in such disarray, the candidates for president are talking about “fixing” health care. How do they plan to do this? You guessed it… more spending. It makes no sense, but then again, when’s the last time anything made sense coming from Washington?

Anyway, here’s part one of the Stossel report. First, some of the negatives of our current insurance-based system.

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