President Barack Obama has taken to a unique and possibly quite macabre strategy into the August recess. In speech after speech on the need for the federalizing control of a national health care system he has taken to insulting the wrong people--physicians. But beyond that he has turned them into orated illustrations of terror. I believe that by doing this he is demonstrating the unusual degree of deception to which he is willing to stoop -- all for the cause of saying he did "something" about health care.
Roughly one month ago President Obama said this at a White House press conference:
"So if you come in, and you've got a bad sore throat, or your child has a bad sore throat, or has repeated sore throats. The doctor may look at the reimbursement system, and say to himself, 'You know what, I make a heck of a lot more money if I take this kid's tonsils out.' Now that may be the right thing to do but I'd rather have that doctor making those decisions, just based on whether you really need your kids tonsils out, or whether it make just make more sense just to huh... change... huh... maybe they have allergies, maybe they have something else that would make a difference."
Right there, in just one swipe, the president has slandered thousands of the very best pediatricians, not to mention ear, nose and throat specialists. He does so with an assumption that those who practice medicine are driven by greed, and not the welfare of their patients. Yet let me ask you this, how many children's doctors do you know, or have you visited to treat your family? All across America, in many case, just one doctor has been the family pediatrician for two to three generations of children, and extended family, and friends of that family. In all honesty, do you think such a reality would exist, if these doctors were treating kids like clunkers that can be cashed in for parts?
Roughly two weeks ago, at a town hall meeting, President Obama said,
"Let's take the example of something like diabetes, one of uh... A disease that's sky-rocketing, partly because of huh... obesity. Partly because it is not treated... huh... as effectively... as it could be. Right now if we paid a family... If a family care physician, works with his or her patient, to help them lose weight, modify diet, monitors whether they are taking their medication in a timely fashion. They might get reimbursed a pittance. But if that same diabetic ends up getting their foot amputated, that's $30,000, $40,000, $50,000, immediately the surgeon is reimbursed."
There he was again with the profit motive. Only this time he was actually making the argument that the doctor would be so malevolent as to allow the diabetic in question to purposefully worsen the condition, just to cash in. I cannot repeat this strongly enough--his willingness to view doctors with such contempt and disrespect sickens me, as it should every medical practitioner in the nation. As best as I can tell there is no other industry that swears to the ideals of such a lofty vision as is found in the Hippocratic Oath. Yet an allegiance to just such an oath is something that is apparently lost on the man who placed his hand on a Bible and took one to uphold our liberties, freedoms, and responsibilities as outlined in the Constitution.
On this issue he was also factually wrong. And given the extreme amount of detail that goes into any presidential proclamation, it's a safe bet to say that he knew he was not speaking the truth.
The matter of monetary reimbursement was publicly rebutted by the American Medical Association (AMA) within 24 hours. It turns out no doctor ever receives even a thousand dollars for the amputation of a foot. They also do not receive their payment "immediately." The facts, according to the AMA, are that reimbursement for amputations are slow in coming and average between just $500 to $700.
And then there was, of course, the case of his own grandmother, whose very hip replacement surgery (fully covered under her insurance plan) he questioned. He wondered about whether it was necessary or not, because of her pre-existing condition: "I don't know how much that hip replacement cost," Obama said in the interview. "I would have paid out of pocket for that hip replacement just because she's my grandmother." Obama said, "You just get into some very difficult moral issues when considering whether to give my grandmother, or everybody else's aging grandparents or parents, a hip replacement when they're terminally ill. That's where I think you just get into some very difficult moral issues."
So by his own thinking, and now admission, had it been left to a public option or single-payer government-run plan, there is a strong possibility she would have been denied coverage for her hip replacement because of her pre-existing condition. But wasn't that one of the massively huge problems his public option plan was supposed to prevent?
So is everyone else's granny supposed to die in misery with a crumbling, dysfunctional hip, just because they are sick with something else?
Is this the utopia that Obama's health care plan is supposed to usher in?
Does anyone besides me feel the least bit queasy that in order to convince us to support his plan for health care reform the president has to resort to examples of unnecessary amputations to justify this need?
Does his confusion about the difference between $500 and $50,000 leave anyone who is struggling with all their might to pay their bills to shudder at his lack of clarity about the numbers in a system he wants to spend $3,000,000,000,000 on?
These are important questions, and I desperately hope that while he's living it up on Martha's Vineyard this week that he works in a little time to consider them, you know, in between the wine and cheese events...
Kevin McCullough is the nationally syndicated host of "'Xtreme' Radio" now heard on 197 stations and columnist based in New York. He blogs at www.muscleheadrevolution.com. His second book "The Kind Of MAN Every Man SHOULD Be" is in stores now.