June 15th, 2006

ozarque figure

Talk about not knowing what they do...

I woke up this morning to National Public Radio's report on the crisis in emergency medical care in the United States -- "Uninsured Patients, Few Beds Keep ERs Maxed Out," by Joanne Silberner. [You can read the text of the NPR report at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5486114 . If you'd like heavy-duty support for that story, you'll find a 61-page PDF report on the crisis from the American College of Emergency Physicians at http://www.acep.org/webportal/Advocacy/state/crowding/respondingtocrowding.htm .]

This is total madness. Let me count the ways.

1. We've got a medical/pharmaceutical industry out there in the media pushing the idea that for your every pain, no matter how trivial, there is a magic pill that you should be taking, after appropriate consultation with a doctor. The generic formula goes, "Ask your doctor if Magic Pill is right for you!"

2. We've got a so-called Homeland Security bureaucracy out there in the media pushing the idea that an influenza pandemic is on the way -- "It's no longer a question of if there'll be a pandemic, it's only a question of when!" They're busy trying to find some drug company selfless enough to be willing to make a vaccine -- which would have to be administered by healthcare professionals; they're busy trying to stockpile antivirals -- which would have to be prescribed by healthcare professionals.

3. We've got a so-called government out there in the media pushing the idea that we're at war, that at any minute there could be a terrorist attack with thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of victims, who would have to go to our emergency departments -- which are reporting, right this minute, that they cannot possibly take care of the needs of the people they're already being called on to treat before either the flu pandemic or the terrorist attack arrive.

4. We've got tens of millions of people in the U.S. [not even counting the undocumented immigrants] who have no medical insurance, who are too young for Medicare and not poor enough for Medicaid, and who therefore have only our emergency departments and emergency clinics as a source of care if they get sick or are injured.

5. Throw in hurricane season and tornado season and wildfire season, while we're at it...... [I'd throw in earthquake season if there were one.] People tend to need emergency medical care after hurricanes and tornados and wildfires.

6. And what, in the midst of all this, is our Congress doing? Debating whether or not we should have a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Debating whether or not we should have a constitutional amendment banning flag burning. Debating whether we should have invaded Iraq. And carefully not voting against their annual cost of living raise, while holding the minimum wage at the five dollars an hour and change that would allegedly let people buy health insurance and Magic Pills as well as eat.

This has passed the point of simple wickedness long long ago, which means the guillotine is no longer the appropriate remedy; the only humane way to proceed is to rush off every last one of those "running the country" to intensive emergency psychiatric care. But there's a problem.....