By Peter L DeHaan, PhD
As 2009 ended, I speculated that President Obama would doggedly pursue healthcare reform as an ideology (which, for better or worse, could become his legacy). In February, I pointed out that the House of Representatives could do an end-run on the whole political process, merely passing the bill that the Senate had already approved.
This is one time when I am sad to say that I was right. It’s not that I am against healthcare reform. There is a definite need for it, which I heartily support; unfortunately, my ideas for healthcare reform didn’t make it into the bill:
- Each person has a responsibility to take control of their health, lifestyle, and healthcare, treating it like we do everything else, as a cost/benefit consideration.
- Place limits on medical liability and reasonable caps put on settlements; penalize those who file frivolous lawsuits.
- Cut back on unneeded procedures, tests, and treatments, evaluated on their cost/benefit.
While it remains to be seen if this law will result in substantive, positive improvements, I personally expect that my healthcare costs will go up and the quality of my care will go down. I hope that I am wrong but fear that I am right.
Aside from a present shortage of doctors, the threats that more will choose to leave the field, and a growing shortage of nurses, the reality is that millions of new patients will soon be added to the system, putting additional strain on already stretched personnel.
Now that President Obama has signed the bill, it’s a done deal – except for the lawsuits – so the most effective thing we can collectively do as a nation is to be supportive of our president and make the best of the situation.
Let’s not fixate on what did and didn’t happen – let’s just move forward.