Chicago physician David Scheiner who was Obama's doctor for over 20 years, believes his president's health reform concept is cut off from the realities of patient suffering and will hurt primary care. No one will contradict him there. Yet at the same time Dr Scheiner calls for more government intrusion through an extension of Medicare and proposes savings by capping neurosurgeon incomes.
Scheiner is 71 years old. He is an internist. He may be unaware of breakthroughs in the neurosciences that will ultimately enable neurosurgeons to cure costly chronic neuro-psychiatric conditions. Leaving aside the predictable alleviation of human suffering (that has by and large become irrelevant in current health care reform debate), such progress also entails major and durable savings in terms of health care dollars. Litigation costs have already spawned a worrisome scarcity of specialists in one of the most difficult and yet promising areas of surgical practice. Intrusive targeting of neurosurgeons' incomes will only make this shortage worse.
Socialized medicine drives altruism out of health care. It also dulls the compassion of doctors. Except for groups such as the AAPS, physicians fail to speak out against political agendas doomed to increase patient suffering. Compassionate and articulate voices are now rising from other quarters. Amy Menefee, who conducts Patients United Now and Betsy Mc Caughey former Lt Governor of NY State are making compelling cases for patients threatened by intrusive health reforms.