But I digress here. (Just enjoying a moment of band-mom nostalgia..)
If you've read my previous posts on healthcare reform issues, you should have a pretty good idea of how I feel about it. If you haven't read my previous posts, here's how I feel about it: I oppose it. On so many levels. It stinks. It won't work. It's a basket full of promises and lies, behind-closed-doors-deal-making, bartering-for-votes, suicide of democratic congress. Feel free to go back and read previous posts that delve a little further into why I feel so strongly about it, if you'd like.
I am amazed at the brilliant minds in our world today. Look at technology. Look at medical discoveries. Shoot... look at what you can do with an $89.00 digital camera and Photoshop! You can put Oprah's head on the body of a supermodel! Which just goes to prove that things aren't always what they seem, and don't believe everything you see/hear.
President Obama, in one of his speeches, acknowledges that Medicare fraud is in excess of 60 billion dollars. A year. Some estimate as much as 90 billion. I wonder, with all the brilliant minds, why someone hasn't thought of something as simple as this: Before you go and re-invent healthcare, pillage and plunder all that is GOOD about the present system, why not try this. According to Wikipedia, in the United States there are 3009 counties, 64 parishes, 16 boroughs, and 41 independent municipalities/cities. My desktop calculator says that totals 3,130 little shapes on our map. For the sake of simplicity, I'm going to call them all counties. Okay, so we have 3,130 counties. What if.... our government actually recovered that 60 billion dollar annual Medicare fraud every year like he promised they would, and... funded public health in all 3,130 counties. Because I'm so inadequate with numbers, and because 60 billion is a lot of zeros, I enlisted Google to help me find the answer to "'what is 60 billion divided by 3,130". The answer, which incidentally agrees with my desktop calculator figures, is a whopping $19,169,329.00. That's 19 million, one hundred sixty nine thousand, three hundred twenty nine dollars. Can you imagine what the counties could do with that kind of money? Oh sure, there would have to be some per capita formulations involved, so that a large rural county with 10,000 folks doesn't receive as much as a heavily-populated county with hundreds of thousands of folks. But.. do you follow what I'm saying here? With 60 billion being on the conservative side, just think if another 20-30 billion was added to that number. Where I live, most all of the counties in my surrounding area have at least one hospital, and one or more public health departments. On any given evening, especially weekends, you can visit the emergency room of your choice and find the waiting room filled with uninsured people who have the flu, or a stomach bug, or headaches, or any number of complaints. Why is this so? Because the uninsured usually cannot afford to walk into a physician's office and pay for primary care. So how do they afford an ER? Well, truth is, they can't afford that either. But most ERs don't turn away patients, and they know they will get the care they need, if they are but willing to wait for hours on end. So how come they don't go to the county health clinic? Well, some of the larger counties do see patients for primary care. Many of the smaller ones only do immunizations, birth control, WIC, and things of that nature that are usually performed by a nursing staff. Most of these do not have physicians on staff who can diagnose and treat an acute illness. This is where I'm talking about spending some of those billions of dollars.
Wonder what would happen if, say, the government recovered that fraudulent Medicare money, funded the local county health departments... and then... dare I suggest that they subsidize some medical school expenses, or pay a stipend, to medical interns to staff these clinics? If government wants to get involved in healthcare, let them get more involved where they already live. In government-funded public health clinics. So now you would have the money to operate it, and you would have providers to staff the clinical aspect. Hey, they gotta do an internship/residency SOMEWHERE (dont you watch Grey's Anatomy?) No more ER waiting rooms overflowing with uninsured patients who simply need primary care. Just think how much of a burden would be lifted from the halls of hospitals nationwide if they didn't have to provide free primary care to thousands of patients every year. And just think of how healthier the uninsured could be if they had access to primary care. Some of the more costly health issues could perhaps be avoided by ongoing care of chronic disease.
In Athens, we also have what is called The Mercy Clinic. I don't know exactly how it works, but I have friends who are nurses who volunteer their time. I know several of the doctors on staff at my hospital also volunteer their time. There are NPs and PAs who volunteer as well. I don't even know what kind of care they provide. I'm just impressed that these people donate their time and their skills to help the less fortunate.
With 60 to 90 billion dollars floating around every year, it is inconceivable that this money can't be used to REFORM health care, beginning at the most basic of levels: providing primary care for uninsured or indigent patients. It is also inconceivable to me some people in America are willing to trust their health care, as well as their tax dollars into the hands of a government entity that ADMITS to 60+ billion dollars in fraud. Huh? No, you can't manage Medicare, but here ya go... go ahead and handle a 3 trillion dollar industry? And even worse than mismanagement of the money, will be the fact that Uncle Sam has more of a choice in my health care than I will. It makes my heart feel faint just thinking about it. And by the way. The healthcare mess that faces us now is not an Obama issue. (See, I really don't blame him for every bad thing!) It is a Big Government issue that has been simmering for years and years. It is a problem that has been ignored for far too long by far too many people. However, the healthcare mess in which we're going to find ourselves if this plan is voted in IS an Obama issue, and is one that distresses me greatly.
I guess I just don't understand why they don't try true reform before ditching it all and going for something new. If using the fraud money to fund local public health clinics is a big flop, and it doesn't change anything... well, what's the difference? We'll be no worse off than we are now. At least we would know how those dollars were spent. Now all we can do is speculate on where that 60 to 90 billion dollars ended up.
Yeah, I know it's a huge mess, with so many facets to consider. Nobody said it would be an easy fix. My limited desktop-calculator mind, even with all it's healthcare experience, cannot fathom what all is involved in fixing the problem. But I do think they should try to fix it before throwing it in the trash.
So there's my first healthcare tirade of the blogger new year. Stay tuned. There's more where that came from. :-)