Report from the Front Lines: Storm Clouds Approaching

I am not a not a Healthcare Policy analyst or a politician; I am a surgeon. I went to medical school because I thought it would be wonderful to fix patients. In the thirty-one years of education that it took me to reach my final educational destination, medicine evolved, and not toward patient autonomy and enhanced care. For the first three years of my practice as a hand surgeon, I was like many physicians – self-absorbed in the daily tasks of patient care and the development of my own family. What was politics? I didn’t care. I had too many other more important things with which to deal – my patients and my family. Medicine, by the virtue of its profession, would be fine without my attention. Or so I, and most physicians, believed.

In 2008, my world changed. I awoke. I knew something was fundamentally wrong in our country. But I did nothing. On March 23rd, 2010, when PPACA/Obamacare was signed into law, my worst fears regarding medicine came to pass. I never knew how much I cared about my profession and my patients until both became endangered. The United States of America, where the notables of the world traveled for their medical care, abandoned the Patient in favor of the State with the passage of this law.

When the Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments on the constitutionality of Obamacare, I delved into the details of PPACA. I then was compelled to speak about it. I spoke to hundreds of people about not only what the press wanted Joe Q. Public to believe about the new law, but also about the reality of what the new law was really about. PPACA is going to ration care in a failed attempt to control costs effectively. It’s the next giant step toward socialism in our country and patients will be trampled upon – their health, their lives, and their liberty. When the Supreme Court upheld the law, I was dismayed. When our President was re-elected, I became inconsolable and sullen. Just ask my husband and my office staff.

So, for now, I continue to take care of patients in the best way I know. I get to know them, I get to know their problem, and I help my patients reach the best decision regarding their healthcare. But I see the storm clouds approaching. There may come a time when a regulation will “instruct” me how to care for a patient in a way that is different from my experience. Undoubtedly, it will be the cheapest solution, according to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. She is not a physician and she does not know my patient. The day a bureaucrat tells me how to take care of my patient is the day that I will decide to leave this country or medicine.

by Dr. Terra Manus
(an M.D. somewhere in the U.S.)

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