Sometimes there is a bogeyman. Rhetoric is often served with a generous dose of fear – especially in this particularly rancorous political climate. And why not? With all due respect (or credit?) to Machiavelli, fear always seems to motivate more effectively than hope (or change).
Look at the 9/11 truthers, a group of paranoid conspiracy nuts convinced we either bombed ourselves that horrible day or allowed it to happen in some FDR-esque scheme to go to war against an entire religion. I’m surprised Oliver Stone hasn’t made this film yet. Or on the other end of the political spectrum, we have the only-recently debunked birthers, whose ringleader has already moved on to other paperwork, Selective Service cards and the like.
I think they’ve already managed a spin-off of “Osama’s still alive” conspirators. Maybe he’s having drinks with Elvis and Tupac somewhere. These high-brow versions of campfire stories have been around as long as this great union. And they’ll live on as long as we have unstable zealots to propagate them. But sometimes we should be afraid. One of the oldest arguments against universal health care also happens to be one of the most rational – at least mathematically speaking. Yeah, I’m talking about rationing.
And, I know, it’s scary stuff. Even before former Gov. Mitt Romney signed Massachusetts health reform into law, many warned we would devolve into Canada, where even the simplest procedure requires more paperwork, approvals and wait times than anything we’re used to now. But sometimes prophecies come true. Just after the state celebrated its fifth anniversary, the Massachusetts Medical Society released a survey that reveals more than half of all primary care physicians in the Bay State are no longer taking new patients. And the wait time to see specialists? Longer than ever.
The state’s average wait time to see an internist last year hovered at 48 days, while those wanting to see a family practitioner faced a 36-day wait. By the way, where do you think those patients go? The ones who can’t get a primary care provider? Or the ones who have a family doctor but can’t get in to see her until the month after next? They’re heading to that bastion of efficient and affordable health care: the emergency room.
And we wonder why health care costs continue to spiral out of control. But that’s just one state. Now imagine that scary after-school special played out on the big screen in a summer blockbuster. Sometimes things can get worse.
Denis Storey Editor dstorey@BenefitsPro.com