Not Sold on Obamacare
As a practicing rheumatologist in Memphis for 20 years, I remained hopeful about Obamacare, until the implications on my ability to care for patients have become clearer.
First of all, the reporting requirements to the government have vastly increased the time and cost of administration, relative to practice income, and has greatly reduced the time I can spend with my patients. An option is to work for a hospital, but my ethical training makes it difficult for me to accept that I will likely be required to treat my patients based on profit margins. I will be given two options: the choice of being fired or committing malpractice.
I am one of only a few individuals practicing in my specialty in this region and am too young to retire. Part of Obamacare's efforts to pay for itself involves attempting to recoup "fraudulent" payments from the past. Do you think the auditors and FBI agents are going after the corporations? No. They threaten to audit, subpoena, and harrass the individual practitioners who don't have the time or resources to fight back.
If Medicare, which sets the rules and monitors Obamacare programs, was so dependable and efficient, then why are they needing to do all this now? In the coming years, I will have tough choices to make for my family, my employees, the organizations I support — and my patients.
Don't Smoke or Eat Meat
Last Friday, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Surgeon General's first report on the health hazards of cigarette smoking, that office released a new report linking smoking to several chronic diseases. In addition to the previously-known lung and oral cancers, high blood pressure, and heart disease, the new smoking-linked diseases include diabetes, erectile dysfunction, cancer of the colon and liver, and stroke.
The parallels between cigarette smoking and meat consumption are uncanny: * The chronic diseases linked to both activities and the associated costs of medical care and lost productivity are comparable. * The first government reports warning consumers about health hazards of cigarette smoking and meat consumption were issued in 1964 (by the Surgeon General) and in 1977 (by the Senate Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs), respectively. * The first warning labels on cigarette and meat packaging were required in 1966 and 1994, respectively. * Both activities are discouraged by health advocates, and both are declining.
But there is one important difference: The meat industry impacts more state economies and has a stronger Congressional clout than the tobacco industry. Consequently, a Surgeon General's report on the hazards of meat consumption is most unlikely.
Our health remains our personal responsibility.
In his letter to the editor (January 16th issue), Jim Brasfield wrote about the "97 percent of scientists who have nothing to do with oil or energy industry" believing in climate change. I dont believe it. To say our cold weather now is part of global warming can't be proved. Climate change has been happening in cycles for billions of years.
For President Obama to try to shut down the coal industry is a crime against the American people. Solar and wind will never catch up under government control, though maybe the private sector can make it work down the road. And Brasfield says we are becoming scientifically backward while claiming to believe what 97 percent of scientists say is true. That just sounds odd.
The NRA and the Tea Party strike again, this time in Baltimore. How many more killings will it take to get Congress to pass some sensible gun control laws? The NRA is worried about gun owners' rights being taken away. What about my rights to not get shot shopping at a mall, and children's rights not to get shot while they're in school?
How much more tragedy will it take before the NRA and their Tea Party supporters lose credibility? Oh, and where is my Uncle Sugar?