We are facing the real prospect of a crisis in the healthcare field. Everyone in this country will be affected in the big cities and the small. The crisis will be far more dramatic in the rural areas than elsewhere.
We are facing a critical shortage of doctors and nurses. Let’s face it: the country is getting older and older. More than 50 millions Americans are over the age of 65 and as many as 10,000 Baby Boomers are retiring every day. With Obamacare coming into effect in a year, at least 30 million more Americans will be going to the doctor every time they sneeze. Are we doing anything about the doctor or nursing shortage?
Nancy Pelosi stating, “We have to pass this healthcare plan so that we can read what’s in it.”
The shortage of nurses and doctors has its origin in the cost and length of education. Even if one is willing, he or she might wait at least two years to get into a program because all the university programs are already over impacted. Even if one gains admittance and perseveres through all training, he or she will have a hard time finding the funds to open a practice, pay staffing and maintain the required malpractice insurance.
Now I am never one to wish for more government spending and a larger bureaucracy, but if the government is going to do something with healthcare, shouldn’t it do something to deal with the most obvious problems?
Why does it not increase funding for the expansion of nursing and medical programs at universities and colleges? More students getting a qualified education means more persons providing healthcare services for our aging population.
Why not offer to pay nurses and doctors their equivalent professional salaries if they will go back to school to teach? One of the big delays in the medical education field comes from a lack of qualified teachers. If you are a nurse making $75,000 per year, you are probably not much interested in teaching for much less money.
Why not offer to pay the education costs for both nurses and doctors if they will go to rural areas and practice for say, five years. This would certainly ease the heavy cost of the education and provide much needed medical care in places other than the big cities. Keep in mind the average age of a doctor here in the Imperial Valley is more than 65 years!
We will never control the increase in healthcare costs if we do not institute tort reform. If a nurse or doctor does something that is improper or negligent, there should be just compensation. That doesn’t mean that if a patient dies or the surgery doesn’t come off perfect that someone should collect millions and millions of dollars. These high awards have led to malpractice insurance costing in excess of a half a million or more a year. Just think of having to produce enough income to meet that insurance cost, let alone enough to pay for staff, an office or equipment.
Fix all this, and then we can begin to deal with the other problems that Obamacare raises. We have not even addressed the issue of Medicare and Medical payments to those in healthcare. How many doctors are going to participate in these programs when the reimbursements are the equivalent of earning minimum wage? Nowhere in the discussion has there been any meaningful conversation toward quality of care as opposed to quantity of care.
We are in a crisis and unfortunately the new plan has not solved any of the problems. Obamacare is a great example of why many fear government involvement. Big plan, big cost, much congratulations … and small chance of actually helping anyone.
Jon Edney is a former El Centro city councilman.