Thursday, July 30, 2009

Letter to Dan Burton

Thank you very, very much for standing against Obama's proposed health care plan.  I'm currently studying for my MD/PhD, and I shudder to think about the changes such a plan would bring to the medical field.  

In theory socialized medicine is wrong, and in practice socialized medicine is wrong.  The Constitution clearly outlines those areas the federal government can regulate, and health care is most definitely not listed. Seeing the results of other countries' experiments with socialized medicine confirms that the intrusion of the federal government into the clinic distorts the relationship between the physician and the patient.  Patients are increasingly seen as economic investments belonging to the state, not irreplaceable souls whose worth cannot be measured.

Clearly, then, socialized medicine not only distorts the relationship between patients and physicians, but also patients and the state, because the state mandates who can and who cannot receive care.  Citizens are not free agents able to choose the health care option that best fits them, but wards of the state, forced to take what the federal government allots to them.

Competition fosters options, and monopolies stifle creativity.  Today's American health care system is not perfect, but it is also not in a crisis.  No one is turned away from the emergency room, 73% of Americans are satisfied with their health care insurance, and innovative people throughout our great country are designing implementing alternatives to high-priced insurance or government-mandated care.  

This simply is not an either-or issue, with only two choices -- our current semi-socialized system or a comprehensive socialized system -- in view.  Health care should be modulated by the free market, allowing people with ideas to provide alternatives and be rewarded if they benefit patients.  When health care is on the free market, there's rapid feedback on ideas.  If a great idea satisfies patients, improves their treatment, and thereby makes money, the clinic employing it benefits.  If a poor idea does not meet patients' needs and does not improve their treatment, losing money, the clinic employing it will change its approach.  When the federal government imposes its own compulsory system of reimbursement on patients, physicians, and clinics, this automatic adjustment does not take place.  Failing ideas may be reimbursed by socialized care for long periods, simply because every change must be enacted through legislation.  Meanwhile, patients lose, physicians lose, clinics lose, and the government loses!  At the same time, there will be reluctance to innovate because of the red tape involved in implementing new ideas.  Sitting on the status quo in any field is boring, but in medicine it can be deadly, since research improves our understanding of medicine every day.  Physicians must have the freedom to implement new ideas, see how they perform, and rapidly make changes to improve the treatment and health of their patients.

Medicare is our first taste of socialized medicine, and yet is failing in its understanding of patients' needs, in its cost-effectiveness, and in the daily details.  This program specializes more in what it doesn't provide than in what it does provide.  Patients cannot seek out any physician they choose, but are confined to a limited pool of health-providers.  Medicare is completely out-of-touch with the flow of medical research toward personalized medicine which recognizes the uniqueness of each patient.  Instead, the unofficial theme of Medicare is not "have it your way," but "have it our way."  Even as the third largest federal expenditure, Medicare has found it expedient to pass along significant portions of its cost to the private sector.  Thus, it not only balloons out of proportion to its efficacy, but hampers its competitor's ability to serve their clients.  Finally, in the daily details, we can see Medicare has slowed the process of idea-implementation when it comes to communicating with physicians.  The telephone and the Internet have been around for several years now, yet Medicare does not reimburse patient communication using either one.  Is it any surprise that these tools are not in use in clinics for direct patient-physician communication?  Thus, Medicare shows the failings of the federal government's dabblings in health care, and contraindicates any further attempts.

Medicare has given us a taste of socialized medicine on our own soil, and the taste is bitter.  If Obama is concerned about saving money, let him disband our first experiment with socialized medicine -- Medicare -- and let the private sector perform its constitutionally-protected services.  Socialized medicine is not right for America, now or ever.

Thank you for representing me in this fight against Obama's proposed health care plan!

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