Monday, November 22, 2010

TSA Security and Health Care

John Pistole, TSA administrator, acknowledged travelers' concerns about body-scanning machines that can see through clothing. He agreed that, to some, the pat-downs, which involve groin and breast checks, are "demeaning." But he said the policy is "not going to change."
Wall Street Journal, 22 Nov 2010
I read this article this morning and could not help but think: as it has been with TSA policy, so will it be with health care policy.

  • The new policy for body scanners and pat-downs did not occur overnight - the new TSA policies were likely in the works for months behind closed doors - just like our health care policies eventually were.

  • The public outcry over the new security measures didn't occur until the people were actually affected. Once that occurred, then came the recordings, the stories of exposed breast prostheses and ureterostomy bag disruptions in the main stream media. Even a rebellious movement to avoid the scanners and overwhelm the security personnel Thanksgiving weekend was mobilized. (Scores of news organizations are now trying feverishly to quell the uprising.)

    We have not yet seen the impact of 32 million or so new people entering our current health care system. Will stories of states closing their doors to Medicaid patients arise? What patient-related horror stores will we hear then? (My jaded eye suspects that, like the so-called "doctor (pay) fix," government will swoop in to provide states with funding and reassurance at the eleventh hour to avoid the impression that health care reform law would be perceived as causing fewer people to be covered, not more.)

  • Whether change will happen to the security procedures as a result is anybody's guess. (My guess: the TSA administrator will fall back to public safety to justify the motive and no one argues that the skies are vulnerable, so (as he predicts) little will change.) If people are unhappy when the new health care law takes full effect, what uprising might occur then when the realities of the limitations to care provided kick in?

  • At least the security policy as it pertains to pilots was retracted - probably because of union pressures. Will doctors need a similar negotiating voice in the future once they're all employees?

  • The matters of security and health care are likely to remain divisive and the force needed to change the existing policies will grow more difficult. Like airplanes, people will have to accept waiting in line for health care soon - at least for the complicated, expensive and highly specialized things.

Oh, the times, they are a changin'. It's going to be interesting to see what transpires this Thanksgiving season in the airports and to ponder what it might mean in the years ahead for health care.

Once thing is for certain though: like flying, most of us will be paying much more for the pleasure.



Dennis said...

I've said it before and I will say it again. At my age I got lucky and lived during a time where between the military and current medicare I have had treatment as good as I could have ever expected not being a head of state... I should have passed on the a laid back marina in the sky before it gets really bad.

Named Just Bob said...

My narcissism must be clouding the parallel between today's TSA requirements and what's down the road for reformed health care. I have not been able to find a definitive statement from our ICD manufacturers whether it was completely safe to go through either the x-ray or radio wave version of the full body scanners with our life-saving ICDs. Why the silence?