Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Political Theatre – The First Two Acts of 2016
Political theatre  refers to three different things: theatre that comments on political issues, political action or protest that has a theatrical quality to it, and any action by politicians that is intended to make a point rather than accomplish something substantive.
The first act was President Obama’ s executive action on gun control, which is unlikely to accomplish anything except generate more gun sales.
The second act will come this week when the House  passes a bill to replace, rather than repeal ObamaCare.  The bill faces a certain presidential veto.
What’s significant about the second act?
First,   it puts the president on record.   The American public has opposed ObamaCare from the onset nearly 6 years ago.  Now the public will know where President Obama officially stands.  In this case, of course,  where he stands depends on where he sits – behind his most notable domestic achievement.
Second,  this the first real opportunity Congress has had to replace ObamaCare under the reconciliation process without a Senate filibuster to kill any replacement, and to have an up-and-down vote  following a bipartisan debate on the issue.  The House now has the opportunity to debate and vote on a Senate version of the bill.
Third, the American public will have its first change to see and evaluate what GOP alternative to replace ObamaCare  looks like under the leadership of the new House majority leader, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
Fourth,  a physician,  Tom Price, MD,  an orthopedic surgeon from Atlanta, is the lead Republican pushing the Enpowering Patients First Act.   According to Doctor Price,  ObamaCare violates every principle of efficient and effective health care – accessibility, affordability, choice, innovation, quality, and responsiveness.   Price says the GOP bill  will ensure access, rein in cost overruns,  solve insurance challenges of skyrocketing premiums and covering  pre-existing conditions,  guarantee portability across state lines and from job to job,  and , in the process, save $1.7 trillion and reduce premiums.
It is fitting that a physician take the lead in addressing and  replacing the more egregious features of ObamaCare,  for until now,  physicians have not been significant actors  in  the health reform conversation.   Physician roles  are changing  now that there are more doctors in the House and Senate.  For doctors,  health care is the theatre, and physicians  are the directors and the actors that assure the play goes well and empowers patients in the audience.



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