Wednesday evening, President Obama gave his State of the Union address. He was poised, well-spoken, and charming (as usual) as he expressed his expectations that Congress focus on leading, rather than politics as usual. He chastised the U.S. Supreme Court for their decision to allow corporations, especially foreign ones, the 1st Amendment rights usually provided only to citizens and individuals. When it came to the issue of healthcare, though we agree wholeheartedly with what he said about gathering ideas from anyone, we must take exception to his statement overall.
Regarding Healthcare reform, the President said “I want everyone to take another look at the plan we’ve proposed. There’s a reason why many doctors, nurses and health care experts who know our system best consider this approach a vast improvement over the status quo. But if anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stop Medicare abuses, let me know. Let me know. Let me know. I’m eager to see it.”
Mr. President, while many might agree with you that what is proposed could be better than the status quo, MOST doctors, nurses and healthcare experts would say that crucial aspects are decidedly lacking. We must concur with Senator-Elect Scott Brown that we can do better. The unfortunate fact, the reality, is that we have been trying desperately to convince you and the Congress that Tort Reforms are essential and foundational to any real change. We have been trying to tell you that the 60-year old Anti-Trust exemption that medical insurance carriers have been enjoying must be repealed. We have been trying to tell you that granting physicians immunity from medical malpractice suits so long as their actions are within standard procedure guidelines established by the medical community would improve the quality of care while lowering costs. But in each of these crucial aspects, you and Congress have both turned a deaf ear.
President Obama says that he wants to see transparency… but apparently that only extends to earmarked spendings, not to all of the closed-door, hush-hush meetings that have gone on. Meanwhile, staged events on the lawn of the White House last year perpetrated an illusion that those Standies in doctors’ clothing represented the medical profession, and that we of the medical profession supported the general concept presented by the White House. Yes, of course, we want heath care and health insurance to be available and affordable to everyone. But no, the plans presented thus far will not achieve that. For the zillionth time now, any plan which does not include Tort Reform cannot ever hope to be successful. So when the President talks about putting aside affiliations to do the job they were sent to Washington to do, maybe they’d do well to remember that it also means laying off the nepotism towards trial lawyers, for the sake of the American people.
Three out of four cases filed are frivolous. Seventy-five percent. The other 25 percent are still questionable. Fact is, doctors very rarely act negligently. Stop seeing your physicians as a free winning lottery tickets and we won’t have this problem any more.
One of the President’s strong soundbites from the address was “Just saying ‘no’ to everything may be good short-term politics, but it’s not leadership. We were sent here to serve our citizens, not our ambitions.” Remember that. Mr. President, and members of Congress. Mark the words well. If you don’t, we will, on the ballet next election.