Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE
Every week the words used to describe Barack Obama’s healthcare policy change. I am going to review his healthcare platform as described during the week of August 5-11th. Each platform revision has the same bottom line. The bottom line is universal coverage with the government being the single party payer.(socialized medicine with all its regulations and inefficiencies).
However, each week his words are refined to made them more palatable. It gets to the point where one could believe the words are something more significant than they are. Clearly Barack Obama’s platform is not a solution to our dysfunctional healthcare system. I will evaluate each of his heading separately.
Comprehensive benefits. “The benefit package will be similar to that offered through Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), the plan members of Congress have. The plan will cover all essential medical services, including preventive, maternity and mental health care.”
This sounds perfect because 90% of the healthcare dollars is spent on the complications of chronic diseases. However, the restrictions to access to care and the availability of care have to be analyzed to be understood. Does anyone think Senator Kennedy suffered any of these restrictions for the treatment of his brain tumor?
When Senator Edward M. Kennedy disclosed on May 20 that he had brain cancer, three days after suffering a seizure, doctors did not list surgery as a possibility. A news release from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston left the impression that radiation and chemotherapy were the main options for his pernicious type of cancer.
What is known is that a few days after Mr. Kennedy learned he had a malignant brain tumor in the left parietal lobe, he invited a group of national experts to discuss his case.
The meeting on May 30 was extraordinary in at least two ways.
One was the ability of a powerful patient — in this case, a scion of a legendary political family and the chairman of the Senate’s health committee — to summon noted consultants to learn about the latest therapy and research findings.
The second was his efficiency in quickly convening more than a dozen experts from at least six academic centers. Some flew to Boston. Others participated by telephone after receiving pertinent test results and other medical records.
Is this what Senator Obama means by The benefit package will be similar to that offered through Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), the plan members of Congress have.” Does anyone believe this policy would produce the care Senator Kennedy received? If it were true it would be great. However, this is an expansion of an entitlement America can not afford without improving the many inefficiencies and loopholes in the present healthcare system.