Doctor Says 50% of Doctors Would Quit Under Socialized System
Our Jonesboro TEA Party Rally Opposing Government Takeover of Health Care was held May 28. We had about 150 people present and very good speakers. Approximately 300 postcards were mailed to our three US legislators, Senator Lincoln, Senator Pryor and Marion Berry on our opposition to government takeover of health care. Several people took them to have family and friends to send to them.
Following is the text of three of the speeches, including the presentation of two physicians.
Excerpts from Transcript of doctor's presentation who spoke at the Jonesboro TEA Party Opposing Government Takeover of Health Care May 28, 09 . (Name not given to prevent any negative consequences.)
Really, kind of off the cuff I was just asked to speak. Apparently there was another speaker who was supposed to be here who didn't catch his flight. One of the ladies was helping organize this asked me if I would say a few words, and I am glad to.
What would happen here in this community, and I will tell you right out. I will just be frank with you. We would lose about half of our doctors right off the bat if we went into a totally socialized system. The most experienced doctors that we have in Jonesboro are in their 50's and 60's and they are still practicing medicine basically because they love what they do. They don't have to do it. Most of them are financially sound; they could retire; they could do what they want to do. But they will quit. They will quit. I know it. I have talked to enough of them, and I believe what they are telling me.
So if we lost one-third to one-half the physicians right off the bat, who is going to provide health care? I heard one of the candidates running for president actually say he wanted a system where every single person in the United States got a complete physical every year. Folks, that is impossible. There are not enough physicians or advanced practical nurses, or nurse practitioners together combined to do that. What has happened is our politicians have promised something they are not going to be able to deliver on. And we actually have men in Washington who are so out of touch with reality that they think they can do it.
It literally just turns my stomach when I hear the stories. Go to You Tube and put in a search on socialized medicine, and you will see hundreds of videos of personal testimonies of people in Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France all these countries that have been mentioned that have a completely socialized system.
Fox news had a story on about a month ago, I believe it was; and it is posted on You Tube on a gentleman in Canada who ended up in Oklahoma City because he had Atril fibrillation with a rapid ventricular response. [I think this diagnosis is spelled correctly] They wanted to treat him with medication, and it was going to be eight or nine months before he was going to get in to see a cardiologist. And if he needed a procedure from an electro physiologist we have one here in Jonesboro right now it was going to be probably another eight or nine months before he could have anything done and a pace maker placed. In the meantime, he would have had a stroke and ended up in a nursing home if he didn't kill him. Well, he came to Oklahoma City and he was seen, hospitalized, treated and his story ended up on Fox News. I wish everybody could see that because that is exactly, exactly what the people of Washington are talking about doing for us.
And I will tell you what. I put in more hours than a lot of physicians do here. I am an independent physician, and I am on call 24-7 pretty much. I have to get up and go to the hospital, and I never know when I am going to be called to the emergency room. In matter of fact, before I got up here to speak, I had to walk around the edge of the audience and call in some orders for someone to get him in the hospital. He has a bad kidney stone; and when I leave here, I am going straight to the emergency room. That goes on 24-7. I am literally worked to death as it is right now. I can not do more than I am doing.
If we lose a lot of physicians and people like me, stuck in the system still trying to provide care folks, it is going to be an impossibility.
I do need to get to the emergency room. I am glad to see people here. Go home, talk to your neighbors. If they think everything will just be hunky dory, just tell them what I said. A lot of doctors will quit. It will take a long time to replace them; and if they think it is a hassle dealing with their insurance companies now, just think about what it will be like under nationalized health care.
The government right now, through Medicare Part B program and a lot of insurance companies, is taking a lot of control away from the physicians. Physicians don't have a lot of say in what goes on. But at least right now I can get on the phone, call somebody up, go through a process and try to get the procedures approved. I may wind up talking to another doctor at the end of the line who is working for an insurance company, but most of the time we can get things done and can get them done pretty fast. It is a hassle on my part, but I am willing to do it for my patients.
If I am in a socialized system - right now if I pick up the phone and I call Medicare, it is sort of like picking up the phone and calling the IRS and saying, Hey I need some help with my taxes. When I call Medicare, and I start asking questions, I guarantee you, (and I have done this before) you can ask 20 different people in Medicare and Medicaid the same question and you will get 20 different answers. It is so complicated and so complex already, I can't imagine what a completely socialized system will be like to work in. I can't imagine, but I am afraid that is where we are headed if we don't stand up and make our voices known and mail in these leaflets to our Senators if they will listen to us; I hope they will. I really don't know. We have such tight control in special interests groups in Washington that it would take a loud voice of thousands and thousands of constituents to wake these people up. It is going to be really interesting over the next few months to see how this goes.
Anytime I have an opportunity to talk to some folks in the clinic, I do. I have had a lot of people to say, "That would be great; I won't have to pay for anything." I laugh and I just start talking to them. And by the time we end the conversation, a lot of them are shaking their heads and saying, "I never knew that; I didn't know. Like I said there is no free lunch; somebody is going to pay for it.
I heard a really interesting statistic recently. You have to back away and kind of see the whole picture when you are talking about immigration, health care, foreign wars, federal reserves, the buyout of GM all the unconstitutional things that are being done right now all the things the government is trying to get their fingers into now. How are we going to pay for it. How are we going to pay for it? How are we going to pay for it?
They are literally going to nickel and dime us to death in taxes. And think about the local level. We are talking about federal taxes, the federal sales tax; they are trying to come up for ways to pay for a socialized, nationalized health system. But what about on the local level? Our taxes are still going to be going up property taxes, sales taxes, every kind of thing you can think of.
Add up how much you are paying in taxes right now. Imagine 1.5 trillion dollars added to the budget to be spent in 10 years (and that is a conservative estimate) on socialized medicine. Here is another figure for you. This was on Lou Dobbs the other night. Close to $375 billion dollars per year is being spent on health care related issues for illegal immigrants in the United States. If we got control of our borders, how much of that money could go to take care of Medicare & Medicaid. A lot of it. There are alternatives, but we have got to get Washington to listen. We don't have a choice. We don't have a choice.
If more people would show up at these TEA parties; I was really impressed with the last one. I think there were close to 1,000 people who came. I would hope that everybody here is going to be bending a lot of ears when we have a chance to talk. That is how we are going to change things. Thanks. I have got to get to the emergency room.
Excerpts of a retired neurologist. - Name not given to prevent any negative consequences.
I am a retired neurologist. This topic of health care is very dear to my heart and I just want to say here a couple of things. We heard our previous speaker talk about age limits for health care. ell, it is not only age limits, that is certainly one criteria for rationing health care, but there are limits also for patients who have cancers requiring chemotherapy. Unless your tumor carries a greater than 5% survival rate, you don't get chemotherapy.
Let me tell you something else. In Germany, technology is wonderful ; but like all European countries where socialized medicine abounds, there are problems. I don't know whether you knew this; but in 2006 German physicians went on strike. It started at the level of the universities. It started because reimbursements and salaries were so small. Would you like to guess the number of hours an average physician was actually putting in at that time in 2006? Does 80 sound about right to you because that is the number of hours those physicians were required to work.
And let me tell you too that among Europeans and standard Asian countries, and including also the British Isles, England, and Canada and other countries with socialized medicine, the salaries of German physicians were the highest. You might say, well goodness, they are probably making a whole bunch of money anyhow so you know it is not going to affect them. But you know what has been happening. Physicians have been leaving Germany. So there is a shortage. That is number one.
Number 2. Because health care costs money, I have heard patients say oh goodness I was out in a country that had socialized medicine. I had a needed treatment, and I got that treatment for free. As we all know, nothing is free! Somebody is paying for it. Here is how they started to pay for it. Well, again, your doctors therefore work longer hours. They have to be remunerated less for their efforts. Hospitals. They had 32 hospitals in 2006 in Germany to close. The need for the number of beds for hospitals increased by about 20% so they have fewer doctors and more patients coming to the hospitals.
That is another thing patients go through. They wait. They wait also for procedures. They are not performed in the timely fashion that they are performed here in this country. So there is more wait for patients if socialized medicine comes about. Another thing, and this took place in Germany - that medications, technology are there; pharmaceutical industry is always coming up with new medications; but because of the cost of those medicines, physicians are strongly encouraged to use first generation medications because they are cheaper so patients may not necessarily get the newest medication that may be a little more effective, fewer side effects. So again we are not maximally helping our patients in that regard.
You know it got so bad in Germany what was happening here they imposed a limit. If you had patients with a given diagnosis, you could spend so much per patient for medications that you prescribe. If you go above that limit, physicians pay out of their own pocket the difference. Now, take those physicians, making less, working more, paying the difference on medications they were prescribing, not even being able to give their patients the finest medications available. You know, we physicians want the best, we don't want somebody interfering and coming between us and our patients. We want the best for our patients. And government should not, should not be deciding what physicians can prescribe, what tests will be done, and how soon their patients can receive that quality care. That should not be.
In Germany it got so bad the groups of physicians got together and you know how they are talking about carbon tax credits. Well, they had medication credit. In other words, a if a group of physicians were below the threshold they could cause their patients to spend for medication, they got positive credit. If you were a physician and you prescribed more than the allowed amount for that patient and you paid it out of your pocket, to help those physicians, the physicians could borrow from other physician groups that were under the threshold. So there they were trading back and forth credits. If physicians didn't cause their patients to spend above the threshold, they could help patients' physicians that did.
Now look, I want to spend my time treating my patients. I want to listen to them. I want to hear what they are telling me. An old neurologist once told us: "Listen to your patients; they are telling you their diagnosis." I don't want to spend time having to worry "Am I going to make this patient pay more for this medication and have it come out of my pocket or I've got to fill some more paper work to make sure I am in compliance with some government mandate. That is not where I want to spend my time. My time is more effective with my patients and helping them out.
So I just want you to know what is down the line. Our present care system, can it be improved. Yes, it can. Everybody can have health care in this country now and in this day and age. If you have an acute problem, there is no emergency room that will turn you away. You will be seen; you will receive care. Nobody gets turned away. Okay. But it can be improved. Can health care can be cheaper, can it be more efficient in the way that we deliver health care. Yes, we can.
We need to look for solutions along those lines but never to compromise quality of care either by telling patients they can not have a test for whatever reason or that they have to wait. If they have to wait to have that test performed, they cannot receive state of the art medication because there has been a limit.
And what about state of the art technology. When the government has to compromise because there are so many people needing health care, how many MRI machines do you think the government is going to allow to come into a particular community when there may be a situation where one in ten hospitals have to close down. So there may be limitations on our freedom of choice, our prescriptions, our technology, and on the physicians we see.
These are just some of the things that may be on the horizon with socialized, nationalized health care. Everyone might get the care. They may have to wait for it and compromise their freedom of choice. I don't know about you but when I have a problem and it is significant enough, I want the best care. And I want for my patients the best care. This is what we all deserve. Thank you very much.
Transcript of Presentation by Iris Stevens, a retired school teacher of 31 years whose 21 year old daughter survived a three year bout with leukemia.
In 1998 my daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. She was 21 years old. The doctors here took good care of her, but they put her into the system at UAMS in Little Rock . For the next three years we were down there almost constantly.
While we were there, we met a lot of patients from Arkansas, from around Northeast Arkansas, and from all over the state. But the ones that were most interesting were the patients from the rest of the world. We met patients from Germany, Australia, Great Britian, and Canada. Those are all countries that have government run health care systems. Each patient that we talked with were in the United States because they were unable to get treatment or entitled to treatment in their own country.
The Canadians and British we talked to were here because of long delays in the treatment they needed. Some of them had been in the system in their country for as much as two years without getting to see a specialist for their condition. And most of them were there for blood related cancers. The patient that I was most impressed with, though, was a German man who was there with his wife. He was denied treatment outright in Germany. It wasn't considered cost effective for him to get treatment. He was too old. How old do you think he was? 65, 70, 80. He was 56 and too old to get treatment in Germany. So he and his wife came to this country where they received treatment. That is shocking to me. We don't do that in this country.
One of my daughter's doctors (and this is shocking too) was from the Netherlands; but when he began practicing medicine, he wasn't happy with the medical system in the Netherlands so he immigrated to Britian. He was there a few years and left. When my daughter asked him why, he told her flat out that he could not practice medicine the way it need to be practiced in either one of those countries. They were having him deliver babies, and he was an oncologist, a specialist in leukemia. Now that is what is happening in government run health care systems.
I know that we have problems here, but we don't have those kind of problems. A friend of mine has a nephew (and she is actually here) who married a young woman from Denmark. Her mother who was still in Denmark just recently died after a three-year battle with cancer. She was diagnosed with cancer of the eye and in the three years before her death she never saw a cancer doctor. This was in Denmark, another socialist government run health care system. I can't imagine that happening in this country.
And I know you would think the amount of taxes these people pay in their countries would earn them more in health care. They are paying more than 50% of their income in taxes, and yet their system is so backed up because of lack of doctors for patient care.
I don't know how many of you have been following the news, but we just heard this week a Democrat from N. Dakota had floated an idea of a value added tax. I am sure a lot of you know about the value added tax. The VAT tax is very popular in Europe. It is essentially a national sales tax levied on all products and services. That is how expensive they are anticipating this health care makeover to be here in the United States. In the Washington Post article this week, they referred directly to the national sales tax as a way to pay for Obama's health care program. [The Washington Post mentioned that it would take a minimum of a 10% national sales tax to fund the new health care program Link to this Washington Post article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/26/AR2009052602909_pf.html ]
That is about all that I have. These are my personal experiences and that is what I wanted to share with you my personal experience that I know about, not what I have been told 2nd or 3rd hand or read about. I know about these situations. Thank you.