Holley Navarre Medical Clinic - Joel Rudman, M.D.
My Blog

Die Quickly?

Remember that Congressman from Central Florida, Alan Grayson, the Democrat who said the Republican health plan in 2009 was essentially "Die quickly"? Well, after 20 years of treating patients, I think I can safely say that your government- not one party, but the whole system itself- feels that way about the citizens it insures.

Why do I say this? Because I deal every day with Medicare- the government-run healthcare that insures our most at-risk patients- the elderly. I can give numerous examples of how Medicare rations care for our elderly and denigrates those physicians caring for them. In a nutshell, our country is broke, 20 trillion dollars in the hole, and our government is running Medicare like a drunken uncle who goes to McGuires for a feast and then balks at paying the check.

Ask physicians like myself who submit claims to Medicare daily. It has become commonplace for Medicare to deny claims over $100 for no reason whatsoever, resulting in increased resources being spent to pursue payment. Medicare currently treats physicians like that family from John Grisham's "Rainmaker" novel whose every claim was denied, denied, denied.

Ask patients like the one I saw today, a stroke victim released from the hospital who needs the OK for vital and necessary home health. Thanks to Medicare laws, even the most kind-hearted agency cannot begin visits until there has been a documented face-to-face visit with that patient's doctor, bureaucracy at its finest.

Ask my patient who needs a new wheelchair, but has to wait on a mountain of paperwork so we can prove to Medicare that we are not running some perverted ridiculous wheelchair scam. I mean seriously, is there a nationwide crisis of people hoarding wheelchairs they really don't need?

Ask the phlebotomists in town who now have to check their calendars to be sure you haven't already had two thyroid tests this year. Or the receptionist at Ann Baroco's mammography unit who has to be sure you haven't exceeded your mammogram limits.

The real crime here is that the same government that cannot pay for services for its most vulnerable citizens now wants to promise free care to our working poor. Once again, that freeloading uncle at McGuires who has no intention of paying his own tab has now invited all his friends over to join the party.

So, with all due respect to former Congressman Grayson, there is truly an air of indifference in healthcare, a feeling like the weak and infirmed are not important or properly managed. But that feeling is not a political one, nor an ideological one. It is not emanating from only heartless Republicans, nor is it the exclusive jurisdiction of unrealistic Democrats. The ones degrading and devaluing your healthcare are apolitical, faceless, and bureaucratic in nature. Congress. Health and Human Services. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

"Die quickly"? Are you kidding me? For every physician right now in America, that's what it feels like Medicare is saying to every request we make on behalf of our patients.