We Can Always Count On Florida

Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Health Insurance Issues With Dave has been on a self-imposed hiatus. Two and a half weeks with no posts. This was my small attempt to lower the noise level. The country appeared to be suffering from health care fatigue and I decided to be part of the solution as opposed to being a part of the problem.

I’m back. I simply can not resist writing about Dr. Jack Cassell and Congressman Alan Grayson. Everything you need to know about the recently passed health care legislation is contained within the story of these two gentlemen. And yes, to tell the whole tale we need both of these otherwise well-educated, bright guys who suddenly turned stupid once they became infected by the health care debate.

Dr. Jack Cassell is adamantly opposed to the recently passed health care legislation. Why? Who knows? Could be on general principle. Could be because Congress failed to “fix” Medicare again last week and specialists, like urologist Dr. Cassell, are facing a 21% cut in reimbursements from the federal government. As I said, who knows. In an effort to share his displeasure, Dr. Cassell posted a typewritten note that read: "If you voted for Obama, seek urologic care elsewhere. Changes to your healthcare begin right now, not in four years."

Tacky? You betcha. A little heavy handed? Sure. But is it really a big deal? I don’t think so. First and most importantly, we still have a secret ballot. He isn’t asking people to tell him who they voted for in the election. He has no way of knowing whether the patient voted for the Democrat, the Republican, or failed to participate in the election process. Sure his waiting room is littered with Republican pamphlets detailing one side of the debate. But, this is still the United States. If you don’t like his politics you have every right to find another doctor.

My daughter Jennifer was born twenty-nine years ago this month in Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital in Youngstown, Ohio. St. E’s was the best hospital in the area and Jen’s mom had had problems in the past. Every single room in this Catholic hospital had a crucifix on the wall. Hope was in there for two days. Frankly, we found the wooden statues on the walls a bit disconcerting. But we didn’t make a fuss and we didn’t ask them to take them down, not even in our room. If you wanted the doctor and the facility, the religious decorations were part of the deal.

Of course, Dr. Cassell couldn’t keep this discussion at that high a level. “I think there’s a real, real problem that’s going on here in this country and unfortunately Obamacare fatally compromises my ability or any doctor’s ability to uphold the Hippocratic Oath.” Not enough hyperbole for you? How about this gem of a sign he posted above a stack of Republican literature describing the bill? "This is what the morons in Washington have done to your health care. Take one, read it and vote out anyone who voted for it."

If you are keeping score, we have doctors who won’t be able to properly treat their patients and the morons responsible. Would the other side laugh at this silliness and let the whole issue disappear within a couple of days? Of course not.

First to weigh in was Dr. William Allen, a professor of bioethics, law and medical professionalism at the University of Florida’s College of Medicine. A man with a great bio but no patients and who will not be immediately impacted by the changes in the law, Dr. Allen is quoted as saying that even though Dr. Cassell hasn’t turned anyone away and hasn’t even quizzed his patients, he is still “pushing the limit”.

Pushing the limit? Our friends on the left were hoping for a stronger rebuke. Who could be counted on to take this to the illogical extreme? The safe bet in Central Florida is Orlando Democrat Alan Grayson. He is remembered for this constructive remark about the Republican’s program from last summer, “If you get sick, America…Die quickly.”

Congressman Grayson appeared on Countdown With Keith Olbermann yesterday evening. I skipped the Duke / Butler game to watch the two of them harrumph over Dr. Cassell’s sign. Grayson did not disappoint. He planned to complain to every medical board and government authority available. In the original Orlando Sentinel article Congressman Grayson is quoted as saying, “Maybe he thinks the Hippocratic Oath says, ‘Do no good.’ If this is the face of the right wing in America, it’s the face of cruelty…Why don’t they change the name of the Republican Party to the Sore Loser Party?”

And that is the whole issue with the other extreme. Those people who disagreed with this legislation, for whatever reason, are relegated to the “right wing”. We should all be grateful that the bill passed. We should get over it and move on. An excellent example would be the way so many of us in the middle and on the left got over it and moved on with our lives after President Bush declared Mission Accomplished and ended the war in Iraq. G-d knows Mr. Olbermann hasn’t mentioned it since. We should all model our future actions after his measured response.

Vice-President Joe Biden was correct. This is a big deal. It is huge. And yet, the details are in short supply and the costs seem to grow daily. The newest exaggeration comes from the Republicans who claim that the IRS needs to hire 16,000 more agents to monitor compliance. It is probably twice more than we actually need, but it really doesn’t matter. One side will use it as a rallying point while the other side will conveniently ignore that they haven’t properly funded any new agents.

And so it goes. We are still in campaign mode. The two extremes are scoring points and wasting our time and millions of dollars of our money. In a perfect world, Congressman Grayson would suffer a mild bladder infection the next time he is back in Florida and you know who would be on call that weekend. Not that I would wish for anyone to be sick, but they deserve each other.

And we deserve better.

DAVE

www.bogartcunix.com