Monday, March 22, 2010

Working pretty well, actually.

I was thinking this morning on my way in to work (aka the only hospital in the area that provides indigent care, fyi) about Sarah Palin's comment in a recent speech: "Hey America - how's that whole hope-y change-y thing working out for you?"

(And then, of course, Will Ferrell's George W. Bush on SNL saying, "Gosh, Sarah, you're just so darn folksy. I tried to be folksy, but it just came off douchey.")

I'm so glad the HCR bill passed. It isn't sufficient, in its current inception, to really fix the system, but it's a step in the right direction. And we need to take some serious steps. The system, as it stands, cannot sustain much longer. It is going to fall apart, soon, and dramatically. Medicare and Medicaid are imploding (Medicare reimbursement was supposed to be cut this month by more than a quarter, independent of any such reform measures, because old and disabled people are just so gosh darn expensive! Yeah, that's the solution. Cut their access to care even more...). And folks, don't think you aren't already paying for the uninsured and the illegal immigrants - we got ourselves in this mess because everyone who IS insured is paying more because the uninsured are sucking down resources. And they're using expensive ER visits instead of primary care offices, long medical and psychiatric hospital stays that could have been avoided with early intervention. People are sucking the system dry - not because they refuse to work and want to be taken care of. The irony is, THOSE people have coverage. Instead, the vast majority are doing so because they have no other choice. They need care, they are sick. As a kind and ethical people, we cannot just throw our hands up and say, oh, sorry, you're just not important enough to society. Which - news flash - in a pure, orthodox, strictly Capitalist model? That's exactly what would happen.

Remember this?
"Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

I'm so proud to be an American today. And so ashamed of those in my country who would rail against what ultimately amount to basic human rights, who stoop to violence and slinging harsh and hateful epithets, who would deny and exploit the vulnerable in our society. I invite them to spend a day in my ward, or better yet, the state psych hospital. I invite them to sit with any one of our social workers, struggling to find placement, housing, affordable medication, or even just follow up for some of the people that are in the most dire need of good care. I invite them to spend an hour at the homeless shelter on Rosemary Street, or at the Spanish-speaking mental health clinic down the road. I urge them to spend a morning in our Geropsychiatry clinic for a full-on view of how the current Medicare system works. And if they possess a soul, if they retain even a glimmer of compassion and humanity, I challenge them not to want to change the system.

And if that makes me a Socialist...well, so be it.

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