If the argument for a wholesale revamping of American healthcare depends on the large number of uninsured, typically estimated at 45 million (although a New York Times editorial elevated the number of medically uninsured and underinsured to over 100 million), then there had better be some plan that goes along with the reform to find the 25,000 to 50,000 new physicians that will be required. And by the way, since the number of physicians retiring in the next decade will be about 25,000 per year, you can see we have a bit of a problem.
A little preview of physician availability from Massachusetts healthcare reform via the New York Times:Dr. Patricia A. Sereno, state president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, said an influx of the newly insured to her practice in Malden, just north of Boston, had stretched her daily caseload to as many as 22 to 25 patients, from 18 to 20 a year ago. To fit them in, Dr. Sereno limits the number of 45-minute physicals she schedules each day, thereby doubling the wait for an exam to three months.
“It’s a recipe for disaster,” Dr. Sereno said. “It’s great that people have access to health care, but now we’ve got to find a way to give them access to preventive services. The point of this legislation was not to get people episodic care.”
Paneled to death
From The Daily Telegraph:Patients with terminal illnesses are being made to die prematurely under an NHS scheme to help end their lives, leading doctors warn today.
In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, a group of experts who care for the terminally ill claim that some patients are being wrongly judged as close to death.
Under NHS guidance introduced across England to help doctors and medical staff deal with dying patients, they can then have fluid and drugs withdrawn and many are put on continuous sedation until they pass away.
Sarah Palin got it right on the "death panel" business, and finnicky conservative critics missed the point: Governmentalization of health care leads to rationing, and rationing leads to death panels - very literally.
I'm sure the road to health care reform is paved with good intentions, though.