Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Obamacare - Bad Medicine

It isn’t often that a patient gives their doctor the “bad news.” I’d brought the latest issue of Scientific American with me to my doctor’s appointment to have my meds refilled. The good news is my blood pressure is down and my weight hasn’t gone up.

The bad news for my doc was in an article about physicians’ assistants and how Congress may not be defunding Obamacare afterall. The article cheerily noted how we won’t be seeing that much of our doctors in the future; we’ll be seen primarily by nurses and physicians assistants. Not that I have anything against my doctor’s nurses or PAs – I enjoy chatting with them.

But I enjoy chatting with my doctor, too. First of all, he’s from the Dominican Republic. He has a great accent, and he was a physician attached to the U.S. Marines. And he’s a Conservative. He says his wife is always telling him to keep quiet about his politics lest he lose patients. With me, he gets to spout off freely.

The fact that nurse practitioners and physicians assistants are on the rise didn’t come as a surprise to him. But when I told him how the Socialists intend for his nurses and physicians assistants to be paid the same salary as he is, my usually cheerful, chatty doctor’s face fell and he didn’t speak for a full minute.

I suppose from a financial standpoint it makes sense to have the less well-trained staff members look after people with runny noses or tummy aches. A physician’s assistant examined my mother when she complained that her stomach hurt. He sent her home, telling her it was just constipation.

It was not. It was Mom’s aortic valve collapsing. She had an aortic aneurism. A triple A, as they call it. It was this doctor of mine who saved her life. It was his greater knowledge and analytical ability that allowed my mother to celebrate her 87th birthday in January and survive an ailment her husband did not.

The doctor pronounced his own treatment; if it was true, he was going to get out medicine. If the medical profession didn’t appreciate his intelligence and his education, maybe some other field would. He’s thinking about going into the financial services business.

“I have a good, analytical mind,” he said. “I’m good with numbers. I do well with my own stocks and investments. I love doing that kind of thing. I love medicine, too,” he added. “But I want to be able to put my daughters through college, pay for their weddings, travel with my wife.”

I don’t resent my doctor’s salary at all. He saved my mother’s life, after all. When I finally realized I needed a personal physician, he was my first and only choice.  As he spoke about working in the financial services industry, I didn’t have the heart to tell him that the field of financial analysis is another at-risk profession with a very poor prognosis.

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