Friday, April 13, 2012

Attitude and Gratitude: I am Proud to be an American Physician
Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.

Winston Churchill

April 13, 2012 -  The following article of mine appeared  in the April issue of Connecticut Medicine, the journal of the Connecticut State  Medical Society,
Yesterday The Doctors Company, the nation’s largest physician-owned malpractice company, issued a press release. The press release headline blared, “Nine of 10 Physicians Unwilling to Recommend Health Care as a Profession, Exacerbating Anticipated Physician Shortage."Company has conducted a physician survey: 5000 doctors responded. Nine of 19 were unwilling to recommend medicine as a profession, and 43% said they planned to retired within 5 years.

Physicians are in a bad mood. Bad moods can be contagious. They can make one downright paranoid. And as author William S. Burroughs said, “Sometimes paranoia’s just having all the facts.” The facts are these: There is unlikely to be a SGR fix, at least not in this Presidential term; There will be no Medicare rise, more likely cuts, in fees over the next 10 years. There will be no national tort reform. There is little chance market-based incentives - Health Savings Accounts, tax credits for all, shopping across state lines- will be introduced under the current administration.
It’s enough to put one in a bad mood, But as my Episcopal Priest son once told me, “Dad when you’re feeling bad, make yourself a gratitude 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 – 53% favor repeal, 38% want it strengthened or left as it.- and 76% think the individual mandate is unconstitutional, while 19% deem it constitutional.

• The 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.


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