Years ago, our government had a problem with health care. Medicare and other health care costs were spiraling out of control. It was clear that the problem was rapidly advancing technology and pressure to provide that technology to everyone who was demanding it. But the government, as usual, choose a politically motivated solution.
They went after the one group involved who was the most disorganized, least clear on its desires and most easily intimidated: the physicians. Out of this the “bad doctor” theory of health care reform was born. It led to a string of solutions all geared to do one thing: control the behavior of those “bad” physicians. These solutions followed the same pattern. “Bad doctor” plans were put in place, doctors complacently accepted, the plans failed, and because of politics and continued complacency, more “bad doctor” plans were put in place. Politics is insanity at its worst.
Today, as a result, health care is more expensive, more fragmented, with more burnt out physicians and angry patients than ever. Clearly, politics combined with complacency has not worked. The only solution will be if physicians demand a seat at the negotiating table and the government respects our rights and expertise to demand a workable solution for all. Given the extreme continued complacency of physicians, this is not likely to happen anytime soon.
For years now our government has had a problem with gun violence. Gun violence and the carnage that ensues continues to rip apart our inner cities, and mass shootings continue to spin out of control. It is clear that the problem lies with intent of the perpetrator, but the government, as usual, chooses a politically motivated solution. They try to go after the guns themselves and to disrespect the legitimate rights of Americans to protect themselves only this time the government has a problem. They have created such mistrust amongst a big segment of the population that an organization whose only strength is the sheer number of Americans who support them forms to stop the government’s intentions: the NRA. Despite years of political attacks, the NRA stands firm taking what should have been the government’s position from the beginning that the answer lies in going after the person with the gun, not the gun itself. The fact that even if the guns were gone these perpetrators would wreak havoc with knives, trucks, bombs or whatever else they can find is lost on the government. The fact that it would be the law-abiding citizens that would give up their guns first is also lost.
There is hope on the gun violence problem. Someday soon some politician will realize that the only way to start to solve the gun violence problem is to respect the expertise of the NRA, the legitimate rights of Americans to protect themselves and try to regain the trust that the government lost by inviting the NRA in as equal partners to hammer out the best ways to deter gun violence. With everyone in agreement, a truly workable solution may be obtained.
There is no such hope for health reform. With no one to stop them, “bad doctor” solutions will continue until the system becomes completely broken. There remains only thing that has a chance to reverse this although it may already be too late.
Physicians need their own NRA.
Thomas D. Guastavino is an orthopedic surgeon.
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