Americans and Obama Versus Neocon Republicans and the Health Care Lobby. Part I

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This is merely the first of many articles on the now-joined health care battle. The Republicans have alerted their troops. They have told them to back down from any direct confrontations because the American People are clearly impatient for action on universal health care and angry at those who try to disrupt the process.

“Leading Health Care Groups” have supposedly volunteered to help reduce costs by $2 trillion. Good. Now let’s get started tearing that apart. Sifting out the subtle lies. Shutting up Harry and Louise before those ignorant old farts can open their  mouths again.

One of the groups was the American Medical Association. They are so generously willing to “help cut costs.” Well, of course they are. But first, “a message from our sponsors.”  Greed and incompetence before helping the American people.

As a condition of helping cut our health care costs (until they raise their fees again) the AMA wants to be freed of liability for stupid mistakes that kill people. They want future liability damages for doctors’ mistakes taken off the table. Despite the fact that something like only 40% of liability lawsuits are won by patients and despite the fact that the average patient who sues and wins gets only about $480,000, the AMA wants to practice medicine with impunity. Despite the fact that it is a tiny fraction of doctors who are incompetent or drunks or druggies, the same criminals who repeat the same mistakes and never removed or censured,  the AMA does not want to get rid of them.  They want to make us pay for their mistakes.

Until the AMA is ready to offer a solution to the incompetents in their own midst, let’s hold up on giving the rest of them impunity. Let’s ask President Obama to first make them offer legislation that will mandate procedures that will eliminate bad apples in the medical profession. Only then should we talk to them about relaxing liability laws.

It should be pointed out that most physicians are apparently not aware that that even in those states where liability was limited to $250,000, insurance costs continued to rise dramatically. So, capping liability had no effect on medical liability insurance whatsoever. It is one of the biggest red herrings in all of business…which is what medicine has become. If they’re so smart, why are they still paying?

Second, the high cost of doctoring and the unavailability of doctors is an illusion created by those wonderful magicians…very bright guys and gals…in the AMA. Here’s the magic, so watch carefully. We have approximately half the number of physicians in this country that we need to fill the residencies in all our hospitals. Let’s just use the number 20,000. So we are ten thousand short. The AMA has solved that problem. We simply go to Asia–India, Pakistan, Korea, the Philippines to find qualified medical school graduates to come here and practice. Not hard to find them because they are exceptionally qualified compared to our students. Also, America is still a very good place to be a physician, comparatively speaking. Problem solved.

So where’s the illusion? Well, we have about 500 qualified U.S. pre-med students for every chair in the medical schools. Some medical schools have the same number of chairs they had when the population was one-third of what it is now. Qualified students who could have been accepted if there were enough spots. But there aren’t, because the AMA carefully controls the number of chairs in the Medical Schools. Now it seems that we have solved the problem by importing physicians from abroad. But the illusion is not about whether we should have more U.S. rather than foreign physicians.

It is this. The number of seats in the medical schools and the number of residencies is far, far short of what we need for the population of this country. The reason for importing the docs is that they become part of the conspiracy or they don’t get in. In other words, we, the AMA, bring you in and you become a good doc and do what you are told, politically. If you don’t we can see to it that you go back home. Most of them get it. They are beholden, ethically, to the people who gave them the opportunity for a great life and a chance to practice what they worked so hard to learn. So, if they see that there are still too few physicians in this country, it is difficult to speak up. After all, there is a greater need for health care in their home countries or in many other under served places in the world. Consequently, we have fewer doctors, more foreign doctors and doctors’ incomes continue to rise and the health care costs continue to rise.

So before the AMA would get any consideration they should not be talking about how we are all going to help them become more incompetent and less populous. We should be talking first about how the AMA is going to provide enough U.S. doctors to thoroughly cover the population. The American Medical Association is the most powerful UNION in the United States. It restricts the number of people who can practice that profession, it says who they will be and it says how many can be brought in from other countries. Individuals who, by the way, are often much better qualified than those from U.S. medical schools.

Nothing wrong with unions. Nothing wrong with physicians. Something wrong with our politicians when they legislate greed, incompetence, and lack of compassion for the many, many Americans who need health care.