Who cares about the doctors?
Amid the clamorous debate over health care, how much have you heard from the doctors? Very little. Nobody’s particularly interested in what they have to say. It’s taken for granted that they’ll always be there when you need them.
These are the forgotten men and women of American health care. They stand to one side, mostly silent, while self-important politicians noisily debate how to allocate “access” to health care. These legislators hold showy “summit” meetings of “stakeholders,” where doctors are outnumbered by the poor, the uninsured, the already-sick, the health insurers, the drug companies, and big corporations like Walmart. In this political universe of warring pressure groups, no tiny minority can expect to have much influence—even the minority that provides the services everyone is clamoring for.
Since professional organizations like the American Medical Association won’t rise to their members’ defense, it falls to the rest of us—those whose very lives may depend on a physician’s skill and dedication—to consider some pointed questions our leaders won’t ask:
- Are you content to have your doctor’s professional judgment second-guessed and regulated by politicians?
- Should our legal system treat doctors like civil servants who are obligated to place their skills and intelligence at the service of every individual who happens to need medical care?
- When America’s doctors have finally lost all freedom to treat patients as their professional judgment dictates, who will be left to provide health care in this country?
The debate over health care did not end with Sunday night’s vote; it’s just moving into a new phase. It’s past time for that debate to start taking serious account of the doctors—not as one pressure group among many, but as individuals whose freedom our government is duty-bound to protect. It’s wrong to keep ignoring doctors’ rights.
Image: WikiMedia Commons