Republican and democratic lawmakers: Grow up and do your jobs

The Pediatric Insider

© 2017 Roy Benaroch, MD

Health – /helTH/ – The state of being free from illness or injury

Care – /ker/ – The provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, and protection of someone or something.

System – /’sistəm/ – A set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network.

It’s not keeping us Healthy, it doesn’t seem to Care, and it’s certainly no kind of System. What we’re got is more about hostile parties protecting their turf and income than a system that’s working together. The docs fight the insurance companies to get things covered; the patients fight the hospitals over inflated, inscrutable bills; the insurance companies fight the pharmaceutical companies over the eye-popping prices of new drugs. The people least suited to fight end up losing the most – that’d be the “patients.”

Meanwhile: the peeps we’ve hired to fix this mess are too busy trying to make each other look bad – which, by the way, is like shootin’ fish in a barrel these days, amirite? – to pass some kind of legislation to even begin to help fix this fine mess. Ever get hired to do a job that you don’t do for 2 or 4 or 8 or 20 years? Didja keep that job? Mind: boggled.

OK, in the spirit of angering everyone involved, so I can bask in the flames of democrats and republicans alike, I will now specifically criticize the approach of both parties. Those of you with strong loyalties may want to skip the next (democratic) or following (republican) paragraphs, lest you be exposed to a worldview that’s not aligned with your own. But for the few of you left who are still capable of seeing two sides of an issue, start here:

Democrats: Obamacare has problems. The insurance marketplaces in many places are collapsing, and premiums are going thru the roof. Even people who have “insurance” often have huge deductibles that they can’t afford. In short: just having “insurance” isn’t the same as “having access to health care.” Obamacare didn’t do a thing to rein in the biggest problem: health care costs too much, and too many people (sorry, “market stakeholders”) are chewing up huge slices of the pie without contributing anything useful to helping patients. I know you’re feeling hurt that you lost the last election, but can you please grow up, talk to the other side, and come up with some common ground to start to address the problems?

Republicans: The free market, alone, cannot save health care. The barriers to entry are too huge (it’s hard to become a doctor, harder to open up a company to manufacture medicines, and even harder to open up a hospital) – which means competition is artificially stunted, and won’t pop up automatically to reduce prices. Also, Emergency Departments are required, by law, to offer care to people who cannot pay – that’s morally the right thing, and don’t even think about removing this safety net. Health care choices are also difficult and fraught, and often made under the duress of pain and worry. People cannot be expected to call around to different ambulance companies to check their prices when they’re experiencing crushing chest pain. You have to admit: health care is unique, and you can’t depend on free market principles, alone, to fix it. The solution is going to include regulations and guidelines and (gasp) some guarantees of coverage, and might even require ways to rein in insco, hospital, doctor, and pharmaceutical profits. I know you’re feeling giddy that you won the last election, but can you please grow up, talk to the other side, and come up with some common ground to start to address the problems?

It’s not easy, I know – but at this point, it’s clear that members of both parties aren’t keeping their eyes on the ball. Your job isn’t about re-election, and payback, and “If you play with Susie than you can’t be my friend anymore.” This isn’t kindergarten, and we don’t really care who plays with Susie – we just want Susie and her family to have access to affordable, good health care. Congresspeople, it’s time to grow up and do your jobs.

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4 Comments on “Republican and democratic lawmakers: Grow up and do your jobs”


  1. Hear hear Dr Roy!

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  2. Mike T Says:

    So you’ve fallen for the smoke and mirrors the Republicans have intentionally created. Did the Democrats pass the perfect bill? No, it needs some work. But from day one (when not a single Republican would vote for it no matter what compromises the Democrats tried to make) the Republicans have tried in every way they could to obstruct and defeat the bill. From the dozens of lawsuits challenging every aspect, the threats to defund the program, the refusal in many Red states to extend Medicare which was a crucial part of getting coverage to people who needed it, they have tried and to some extent succeeded in making the bill fail.

    And now you say “a pox on both your houses.” Exactly what the Republicans want. Their goal is to cut taxes for the rich, and if they succeed in killing Obamacare but if voters blame both parties and the “mess in Washington” they are in effect letting the Republicans off the hook for the damage they intentionally caused.

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  3. Linden Says:

    I’m a long lime lurker and I have to agree with Mike T here. I’m from across the pond, so I have no US party allegiance. I’m just a horrified onlooker.
    The two parties do not appear to be doing equivalent things at all.

    One party, with great difficulty and no help from their opposition colleagues (there were numerous outreach attempts and discussions), crafted an imperfect health bill which requires improvement.

    The other party has just voted for a motion to proceed on a bill that *doesn’t exist yet*. Nobody knows what is in this bill. Nobody knows how many people will lose coverage. The GOP has made a complete mockery of democratic norms.

    This is a time I am glad not to be an American. Even were my healthcare guaranteed, I would be terrified for friends and loved ones. And I would be utterly, miserably *embarrassed* of what was happening in my country. Want to make America great again? Build a county where healthcare is not just a luxury for the wealthy or a sword that employers hold over their employees. Build a country where teachers don’t have to panhandle to provide supplies for their students. Build a country where toddlers can’t get hold of guns and shoot themselves or their family members. Can the richest country in the world not get its house in order? Much poorer countries have succeeded at being decent to their citizens.

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  4. Carol mikkelsen Says:

    My thoughts exactly!!!!

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