With the latest revelation that the Affordable Care Act was intentionally created to include fuzzy math and an overwhelming lack of transparency, I am more frightened than ever about the future of health care in this country.
For the last year, I have commented on the many pitfalls that this current legislation would create: The patient-doctor relationship as well as patients’ access to treatment — especially those that require specialty services— and not to mention the predictable increase in premiums that many families are encountering.
Now, all of these things have come to fruition.
The promise of keeping your doctor was hugely false, and certainly premiums for patients have skyrocketed in many markets, and a lack of access to specialists such as cardiologists, neurologists, nephrologists in many parts of this country have caused patients to have to travel great distances for care.
But I’m more frightened than ever for the men and women in the health care industry. I’m talking about doctors and nurses who are the ones responsible for treating this current generation of Americans and generations to come.
I think that if we did a national survey and people told the truth, we would find that most health care work professionals are unhappy. They are unhappy because for the last several years, the rules of health care have kept constantly changing. And worse than that, physicians and nurses get punished for conditions that they sometimes cannot control.
This has led to surveys clearly showing a significant attrition of doctors in the marketplace today. A 2013 Deloitte survey indicated that six in 10 physicians believe the practice of medicine is in jeopardy, and 62 percent say “it is likely that many physicians will retire earlier than planned in the next one to three years.”
Let’s face it: One out of three doctors in America today is over the age of 50. And many of them cannot wait to either have early retirement or consider other professions.
When you have the federal government going at a continuous pace of manipulating and controlling health care services in America, the physician becomes a pawn of legislative agenda that, many times, is impossible to execute in real time. In the end, who suffers the most? The patients.
I’m not saying that we had a perfect health care system before ObamaCare. But there hasn’t been a single example that, at least to me, satisfies the notion that America is going in the right direction when it comes to health care.
And in America, we still struggle with a multitude of medical issues that will take years to fix— such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure and preterm deliveries, just to name a few.
A perfect example is the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care which is a fully run system by the federal government, and yet thousands of patients did not receive adequate and timely care—only to become a national story, and only to expose all the shortcomings of what happens when bureaucrats run medicine.
I know that the midterm elections are bringing new attention to what the new Congress can do to fix ObamaCare. Personally, I think that this giant spider of bureaucracy is now so embedded into the DNA of America that it is going to be impossible to fix.
I hope that the fundamental question that the new Congress answers first is: How do we keep the doctors and nurses in their jobs? How do we take away the burnout rate of physicians dealing with all the Washington paperwork that this government has created? How do we take away some of the fear that doctors have in practicing medicine today that, if they make a single mistake, they run the risk of being fined or, worse yet, losing their license— especially if an error is made without malice?
Listen: I don’t have any problem putting crooks in jail. But it boggles my mind how the IRS is entitled to lose dozens of emails and gets away with it, but if a physician inadvertently codes a chart erroneously, he or she is dragged through the coals.
When the Ebola epidemic broke out, our federal government told us not to worry -- that we were ready. And you saw what happened. American hospitals were not ready. Only a select few were— and even they had to pull immediate resources just to treat one patient.
America, the facts are in front of you. I believe that we have all the resources to handle any challenges that we come to face, and that we are capable of delivering a health care system that will continue to grow, rather than contract. But this can only be achieved if everybody tells the truth, if we take politics out of the equation, if we take special interests out of the equation, and deal only with the science of healing.
Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny's work, visit AskDrManny.com.