Constitutional Emergency

Looking At Our Health Care System From Within

Looking At Our Health Care System From Within

A trip the the emergency room provides a firsthand look at what the Democrats could very well destroy



Over the past few weeks now, my wife and I have been spending a good deal of time at hospitals and emergency rooms. While more details would be inappropriate at this time, and it's certainly nothing truly life-threatening, I'm actually typing this from an emergency room bay right now.

Inevitably, I think of health care reform. It's hard not to, what with the steady stream of doctors and nurses and aides coming in from outside the pastel curtain, and the cacophony of beeps, bleeps and whirring noises coming from the machines in the rooms adjacent to this one.

Folks, we cannot let this happen. We cannot hand over our health care system to the federal government. From my position now on the edge of the room, I can see into the bulk of the ER, and even on what one of the nurses described as an eerily quiet Wednesday morning, I've seen a dozen people walking or being wheeled in and attended to for various forms of duress.

There's a certain confidence here, among the staff as well as the few patient family members I've locked eyes with as mothers, fathers, sons or daughters are eased into rooms like this one. And they should be confident. We have all the technology we need at our disposal. We have the very beat doctors, nurses and support staff.

A few things this morning have compelled me to tap away at my smartphone between visits from various personnel, as my wife patiently awaits bloodwork while watching The Price is Right.

First, in the waiting room about an hour ago, as we sat for a few minutes before being called back into triage and into the ER itself, I overheard some sort of hospital staffer discussing various treatment venues with a young black family. Their health care decisions, specifically with regard to where they could go to treat whatever the problem was, were being based upon out-of-pocket costs and a lack of health insurance rather than what was best for the patient.

That, folks, is unacceptable. While the federal government has no business whatsoever in the health care business, from either a constitutional authority or common sense standpoint, we absolutely must reform our health care system so the fewest possible Americans are in the position of the family who were sitting across the waiting room this morning. And you do that by dissolving the relationship between employment and health insurance. You do that by facilitating the free market through opening up the private insurance market to interstate competition. You do that by allowing individuals and small businesses to pool their risk and achieve buying power. And you do that by providing incentive for providers to establish catastrophic care options for people with preexisting conditions.

Second, I found myself amazed as I watched the triage nurse arrange for a bed for Joanna. The computer system was incredible. Everything in the hospital was at that girl's fingertips -- she knew who was in each bed in each room, she knew who the doctors and nurses were in charge of those beds and patients, she knew the medication and procedure orders, the vital signs, and she could pinpoint the location of every single doctor anywhere on the campus. From an organizational standpoint, it was unfathomably cool.

Barack Obama and the Democrats keep telling us how their trillion-dollar plan for the American health care system, the same plan which creates more than 110 new boards, committees, commissions, agencies and other bureaucracies, will make our system more effective. I don't buy it, and neither should you. What other government agency or program is in the slightest bit effective? The post office? FEMA? Give me a break. If she so desired, the 22-year-old triage nurse could tell me the heart rate of a new mom on the seventh floor of the south building in the post-partum department, but the federal government cannot distribute $787 billion in taxpayer money for a high profile, so-called "stimulus" package without given millions to congressional districts that don't even exist.

Third, after watching a pregnant woman on oxygen come in through an ambulance bay, I saw a technician move out of one room and into another with a portable, bed-side ultrasound machine. Gone are the days, my wife's nurse said, that patients are being wheeled around this particular hospital to designated rooms for one test or another. His exact words were: "All these new machines enable us to do so many more things right here in the room. It makes things happen so much quicker, and allows for us to focus on you."

I got a look at the portable ultrasound machine a few minutes ago, parked alongside a bunch of other normally bleeping and beeping contraptions waiting silently for the next patient who needs them. They were adorned with emblems and stickers touting manufacturers like GE Healthcare, Hewlett-Packard, Cardinal Health and more. The fact is, American ingenuity fostered by the American health care system as facilitated by the free market and, yes, profit has allowed this country to set the standard for patient care, and permitted other nations to piggyback upon the technological advancements of our own.

Finally, the steady stream of doctors and nurses themselves are impressive as usual. They care. They spend extra time when they can. My wife's primary was actually in the hospital and stopped by--a visit no doubt made possible by the aforementioned organizational software--and sat with us for several minutes. As I mentioned, we're not talking life-threatening problems here (thank God), but he was still able to take time to educate and reassure us.

We have the best doctors and nurses in the world. I know, not because of the time spent in places like this, but because I'm married to one of them. And sure, these men and women get into medicine to help people, but there needs to be a certain element of financial stability involved as well -- otherwise, who in their right mind would incur additional years of schooling and upwards of $300,000 in debt if there wasn't an eventual payoff?

It's so easy to write about health care and health care reform in a disinterested fashion, the political equivalent of criticizing an NFL quarterback without feeling the hot breath of a blitzing linebacker on the back of your neck. But it's something else to see it in action, even if that perspective is fairly limited due to a single emergency department and a pastel curtain. What I see now is an absolute travesty waiting to happen.

We're about to willingly destroy our health care system--hardly perfect but still the greatest in the history of the world--in the name of political expediency and social justice. Real reform should involve distancing patients from government, not including government and its burdens in every procedure, test and decision.

We need to incentivize advancements, but instead we make profit taboo. We need to encourage the best and brightest to don scrubs and white coats, but instead we could be forcing them into specialties and taking decisions out of their hands. We need to increase access to great health care to everyone, but instead we stand to create lengthy lines for access to intentional mediocrity. And we need to instill confidence in patients, doctors and families alike, let them have faith in the knowledge that everything which can be done will, but instead we willingly march toward rationing of care, and turning patients like Joanna Schreiber into just another line item on a budget.

Joanna will be okay. Her condition might require that I cook Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow--thus putting the rest of our family at risk--but we know her long-term health prognosis is good.

Looking out at the emergency room beyond the curtain, and considering what our president and the Democrats would like to implement, I wish I could say the same thing for America.

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