Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Physician's Gratitude List


The USA remains mankind's last, best hope. Or, as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called it, America is "the indispensable nation."

Try to imagine the world without the United States. Who would nurture the universal longing for liberty? Who would guarantee the security of democracies and minorities around the globe? Who would sacrifice their own sons and daughters to liberate others?

Albright got it right: Our nation is indeed indispensable.


Michael Goodwin, “Giving Thanks to Our Nation, “ New York Post, November 24, 2010

This morning I awoke, depressed and gnarly.

My son, an aspiring Episcopalian priest, sensed my mood. He said, “Dad, make a gratitude list. It will make you feel better, and it will put things in perspective.”

Sure enough, it did. Here’s my list.

I am grateful I live in a country where,

• People can disagree disagreeably about the health reform law, but without riots, strikes, or violence.

• Voters can feel free to express their opinions about the health reform law - 48% favored repeal, 47% want it strengthened or left as it.

• The latest Gallup poll indicates 82% of people are satisfied with their health care. That's not 100%, but it is impressive.

• Few citizens choose to go abroad to seek better care.

• Every citizen who goes to an emergency room will be treated no matter what his or her financial circumstances.

• No matter where you live in the U.S., most citizens have quick or immediate access to the best medicine and technologies has to offer without government oversight, second guessing, or rationing. This is not true in most other countries.

• We provide such exceptional care that kings and potentates come here for treatment (The King of Saudia Arabia is now at Cornell to get a herniated disc fixed), and doctors come here from around the world to learn, to train, to practice, and to benefit from our research.

• We listen to the voices of the people when the majority protest a sweeping health reform law they fear will cost them their current coverage and access to doctors.

• We cover 110 million of our 310 million citizens through costly Medicare and Medicaid programs and pay for ½ of all health care costs, an expense per capita above that of other nations.

• Our political system allows us to engage in a lengthy, sometimes acrimonious debate, on what is the right thing to do in the long run to provide the best care for most of the people most of the time.

• As a country, we believe in individualism and choice, in government care as well as private care, in the independence of physicians to choose their specialty, where they want to live, and to provide care they think is best for patients based on individual human judgment rather than bureaucratic rules .

• We are a society that prides itself in our generosity to help others around the world , in our innovations that make us the Internet crossroads of health information of the world, the fountainhead of many advanced medical technologies- in genomics, cancer therapy, life-saving and life-style restoring procedures, our imaging technologies; and in vibrant entrepreneurialism in multiple health care spheres, a spin-off of free markets in a capitalistic society.

I am proud to be an American physician, living in America.

3 comments:

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