By Garret Myhan, M.S.N., C.C.R.N., C.R.N.A.
Sometimes it just comes down to the numbers. President Obama would have us believe that his plan for liberal health care reform, if implemented, will not effect those of us who are happy with our current doctor, hospital, or health insurance plan. He would have us believe that his health care utopia would not result in service rationing or long wait times for care. The dozens of health care bills floating around Washington DC contain thousands of pages of complicated legal language that is close to undecipherable for the layman. Fortunately we don’t have to look very deeply to discover the truth. Just look at the numbers; the numbers don’t lie.
President Obama’s ultimate goal is to insure the approximately 40 million Americans who do not have health insurance. While this is indeed an admirable goal, implementing this plan by swift government mandate would put a terrible strain on our already over extended health care system. Fewer and fewer new doctors are entering family and pediatric practice, and due in part to overly restrictive Medicare reimbursement rules, many established primary care physicians are abandoning their specialties for higher paying areas. The American Academy of Family Physicians predicts a shortage of 39,000 family doctors by 2020. As greater numbers of Americans reach retirement age and beyond, registered nurses required to care for them are and will continue to be in short supply (a shortage of 260,000 registered nurses by 2025 according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing). To instantly introduce 40 million new patients into the current system and expect their presence to not affect the care of those already insured is ludicrous. There will be rationing, there will be long waits, quality of care will suffer. There is no other way to look at the numbers. It’s like dumping 100 gallons of water into a 55 gallon drum and expecting it not to overflow. It just doesn’t add up.
So what is the answer? What can be done in the name of sensible health care reform? As with most issues, the government can best be of help by extricating itself from the situation: Remove onerous laws and regulations that punish doctors and nurses for practicing primary care specialties. Remove regulations that tie workers to their employee-provided health plans and that prohibit individuals from shopping across state lines for better health insurance. Remove incentives for patients to frivolously sue their health care providers. Remove restrictions on the practice of qualified non-physician health care professionals. Allowing the system to work unfettered in the free market will not only bring down health care costs and make health insurance more affordable for all who want it, it will allow the system to expand gradually to allow optimal care for all Americans who choose to use it. In the area of health care, as in most other areas, more big government is the problem, not the solution.
Garret Myhan is a guest contributor to The Patriot. He is a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist in group practice in Searcy, AR. Garret is married, the father of 3 children, an active blogger, and an advocate for Constitutional limited government. Garret blogs at Sleepy G’s.
The views of guest contributors to The Patriot do not necessarily reflect the views of The Patriot, the editor, or other contributors…but most of the time, they do.