I sent this response a few days ago to the Chairman of the Board of Regents of the American College of Surgeons...
December 4, 2009
Dear Dr. Eastman:
As a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, thank you for emailing me your letter to Senator Reid announcing the Surgical Coalition’s opposition to the Senate Bill. I certainly agree on the bullet points of opposition laid out in your letter. However, the bulk of what followed was a huge disappointment.
The debate over health care in this country has brought in many players with skin in the game. Your coalition of surgical organizations is one group among many. These many groups include other physician groups, insurance companies, patient advocacy groups, pharma, and the like. I would bet that the individuals in these groups, including yours, want our country to have the best health care system for themselves, their families, and their patients. But look back to the first line of this paragraph. Did the “players with skin in the game” metaphor rankle you at all? It should have. If it did, maybe there is hope that given enough time you could actually learn enough history and economics to understand what is really wrong with our system. I would submit that we do not have a health care problem in this country, but we do most definitely have a government problem in this country.
Our health care system is a mess, but few understand why, and most tacitly accept the notion that government can or must provide the solutions. But it needs to be recognized that government encroachment into health care over the decades was the key ingredient in creating the bureaucratic, inefficient morass that is our current system. The logical answer, once this is appreciated, is not to allow the government to fix what it broke in the first place! The answer is to strive to do everything possible toward the goal of getting government out of health care completely. This means less regulation, not more. This means less government/corporate cooperation (collusion), not more. Lobbying for regulations favorable to one group over another is a toxic concept, based on the immorality of the method itself. Yes, I know that is the “way government works” nowadays, and I hear the arguments that we need to have a “seat at the table”, but that doesn’t make it any less wrong.
We have gotten to the point where we are ready to hand over the last bit of control of our health care system to government bureaucrats, because individuals and groups (like yours), unconsciously through ignorance or consciously through appeasement, have not stood up for sound principles. Is it really so shocking to ask the question: “Why is the government involved in my health care at all?” Maybe it’s shocking to some to state “Health care is not a right”. But it’s only shocking to someone with no understanding of natural law, rights versus privileges, or why a socialistic system, health care or otherwise, is profoundly immoral. The wealthy will always find a way to skirt such a system while the shrinking middle class pays for it, and the poor, the ones the system claims to benefit, suffer the most.
Lest I be dismissed as just a fringe member of the ACS with strange ideas and no solutions, I offer a few things we can do, and would be glad to supply more:
- Recommend to your members that if they are one of the 17% of American physicians that remain members of the AMA, get out. Let’s make it even clearer that the AMA doesn’t represent American physicians and exists solely to feed off its lucrative CPT franchise (merely one example of corporate/government collusion which poisons the system and raises costs).
- Learn what’s really going on with health care in America. A good place to start is the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons and its website, www.takebackmedicine.com.
- Opt-out of Medicare immediately. Continue to care for seniors, as most physicians who have opted out do, through private contracts with reasonable fees. Refuse to be part of a corrupt and inefficient bureaucracy that threatens its physicians with draconian punishments and fines while paying them a pittance for the privilege. Imagine the signal that would send if a large organization of physicians like yours had the backbone to recommend this. It would force Reid and Pelosi to tender the idea of forced physician labor. That would likely wake up physicians, and indeed the whole of the American people, to just how much power the government craves.
It is only a true free market in health care which will lower costs for all patients, increase availability of care, and spur innovation. Most, unfortunately, have no idea what a true free market looks like. It’s not what we have now, and certainly not what is on the horizon.
Douglas J. Mackenzie, M.D., F.A.C.S.
LaMar McGinnis, M.D., FACS, President of the American College of Surgeons
Andrew Warshaw, M.D., FACS, Chair of the ACS Health Policy and Advocacy Group
Thomas R. Russell, M.D., FACS, Executive Director of the American College of Surgeons
Christian Shalgian, ACS Director, Division of Advocacy and Health Policy