Being a physician, one’s first duty is to one’s patients. When Congress passed the healthcare reform bills, more than a few of us were doubtful that this was going to help. Many more felt there were far better possible solutions to be found. Few felt the entire 500+ seats of Congress should have taken an entire year to come up with that legislation. But when it passed, we hoped for the best, and figured it could always be changed before it went into full effect. That last may be the best idea in the whole stew.

Let’s take a look at what the new HCR shows us so far. So far, pretty much nothing good. There are state and federal funds to assist in the cost of achieving healthcare insurance for those with pre-existing conditions — but precious few can afford, let alone justify, the premiums. Score Zero for HCR on that one.

What about the rest? It seems that’s a mixed bag. In one sense, it’s good that there isn’t much else kicking in yet (from that bill) so there is still time to get things changed. In another sense, very little help for patients is actually happening. There’s a little piece of the legislature’s imagination at play with doctor-owned hospitals qualifying for funds for a few things. Still not quite sure why it should be material that doctors own the hospital they work out of. Are there more restrictive rules against auto mechanics who own their own shops?

Then there are all of the court cases all over the country, where a state’s Supreme Court has ruled against caps on awards of any kind after the legislature enacted them. It’s pretty consistent so far. At first glance that might suggest that the ruling would be “for the patient,” but we all know what happens when the trial attorneys get ahold of that. In the final analysis, that’s BAD news for the patients.

This country’s 500 members of Congress spent the better part of a year doing what a handful of bright people (and a few support staff) could have come up with in 3 months. But the handful would likely have done a better job of it, as they wouldn’t have had the machine of politics to deal with. Development of a solution of this importance and magnitude should not be left to the machinations of the political system. Rather, the best and brightest minds should have solved the problem, and left it to the legislature to translate into legalese and approve.

We still have the opportunity to make changes to the healthcare system. Much of the country may be fatigued by the wrangling over healthcare reform, but to allow this ill-conceived plan to continue into practice would be a far greater burden than to revisit the subject. We have a duty to our patients, and we owe it to ourselves, to do our best to stave off this abysmal failure of a plan. What would you suggest if you had a seat at the table?