Bob Franken

Fedicare. The Bureaucrats are Already Between you and Your Doctor


We keep statistics about almost everything. So I wonder if anyone has kept tabs on the many people who have gone bonkers about government interference at health care meetings. How many drove to the town-hall meetings in new cars they just got in the “Cash for Clunkers” program?

More to the point: How many stopped to pick up prescriptions they assume are safe because they have been so rigorously tested by the Food and Drug Administration? Actually, one of the FDA’s biggest problems is interference by the private sector, but that’s a subject for another day.

How many of those bellowing dire warnings about “bureaucrats getting between you and your doctor” were following the intense efforts to fend off swine flu by the staffs at the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Are the screamers aware that the CDC, NIH and NIAID are government agencies? As their blood pressure elevates, did they know handy tips are available on the Web site of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute — another federal entity that practices medicine?

These guys already get between you and your doctor, and be glad they do. They lead the research efforts that give physicians the health care tools they need. They provide oversight to try and enforce limits on profiteering and carelessness.

While we’re at it, let’s not forget those other massive government programs where instead of the Hippocratic oath, most staff members take the Bureaucratic oath. That would include Medicare, Medicaid, the Veterans Administration, Armed Forces medical care, children health initiatives, etc.

It would seem that those raising the most hell are either severely out of touch or knowingly making arguments so phony they should take a Hypocritic oath.

Unfortunately, they are shouting down any efforts to understand a health care system that is still largely controlled by private insurance companies, who maintain their own massive system of “bureaucrats who get between you and you doctors.”

Without a doubt, members of Congress have left Washington with reform proposals that need to be treated with great skepticism. Before anyone can do that, however, we must know what we’re talking about.

Those who are loudly trashing the meetings clearly don’t know, and they want to make damned sure no one else does. They are whipped up by mindless ideologue sloganeers and commentary — like the “death panel” distortion we got from Sarah Palin.

The wildest dream of those of this ilk is that health care reform goes down and takes the Barack Obama presidency with it. Never mind the facts about government and health care, or right and wrong.

To these ambitious politicians, this is merely another opportunity to continue building their political careers by inflaming the emotions of the fearful uninformed they send out to do their dirty work.

Here’s the statistic they should ponder as they bleat about “socialized medicine”: More than a third of our health care system is already controlled by the government. The most apoplectic opponents of reform get the benefit. We all do.

Still, no one is saying the remaining private system should be replaced by a public one, by something . . . gasp . . . “socialist.” What is being so hotly debated is an effort to vastly change how it operates. Maybe the loud ones should consider doing the same thing.

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