Sunday, October 16, 2011

When Doctors Occupy Health Care

As Occupy Wall Street protests spread across the nation, I can’t help but wonder if the same movement could occupy health care. After all, the basic tenants of the movement involve protesting against social and economic inequality, corporate greed, and the influence of corporate money and lobbyists on government. In the "Occupy" movement, there is a feeling there’s an inside game and the game is rigged.

It would seem, then, that our new health care law, written by corporate interests and heavily influenced by lobbyists, could become a ripe target for the movement. We are beginning to see patients and doctors asking some very powerful questions: Why does the retail price of a pill have to exceed $10? Why does a single IV infusion of a chemotherapeutic agent have to cost $5000? Why must we keep building hospital facilities that exceed $1 billion commonly, often in areas of extraordinary real estate prices? Why are insurance premiums consistently growing faster than inflation? Why are health care stocks and funds considered one of the best investments right now just as people are worried about affording health care? Why is health care reform making special interests happy while many doctors and patients are increasingly unhappy?

Must doctors accept the pervasiveness and intrusiveness of the inside game in health care? If they didn't, I wonder what doctors’ placards might say?



Keith said...

Your spot on again Wes! Health care is the govermental triumvarite of industries heavily supported by our federal infrastructure (defense and the financial industry being the others), and all have exerted undue influence on the political process tweaking the rules of regulation to favor the players. Too often physicians have been corrupted into this process, often posing as shills for corporate interest, whehther it be the physician key thought leaders hawking drugs for big pharma or other specialists touting the latest medical device. Physicians sell out to big healthcare systems also to become medical directors and "physician leaders" as well. The conflicts of interest are evident and pervasive.

Until we all wise up to this and focus our energies as providers to create a more cost effective and quality directed health care system, we will continue to get money driven medicine. And this will resort (as it has) in more goverment intervention and regulation designed to control the ever increasing costs of health care that are increasingly being born by goverment. Let's hope we all wake up before we end up like the airline pilots.

Tim Hulsey, MD said...

Keith said, "Until we all wise up... and focus our energies as providers to create a more cost effective and quality directed health care system..."
I don't recall too many of us out on the front lines being asked to help create anything. We won't follow the party line and won't be consulted. Those in power have decided what they want, they use their MPH/MPP geeks and the Center for American Progress to write it, and we will be shoved in to a provider pigeon-hole, regardless. The government will villainize physicians to keep the "occupiers" off their backs.
I don't mean we shouldn't scream "BLOODY MURDER!!" as it happens, but I'm not even sure how strong a different party's president will be in leaving health care to the physicians. The government is already gathering or about to gather private health information, as I suggested would be one of their main foci of reform:
My placard would read: IF YOU NEED HEALTH CARE, CALL KATHLEEN SEBELIUS!!, but we'll be the picketees not the pickaters!

Courtney McNamara said...

Great blog!

Of interest:

Why Occupying Wall Street can make the U.S. Healthier