Many of us have seen that the "discussion" surrounding healthcare reform is heated to say the least. As a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at USC we in primary care are waiting to see how this plays out. I believe reform has to happen and that everyone deserves access to affordable healthcare, I also realize this will mean changes for us as Physicians that aren't all good. Physicians and Patients are frustrated at shorter office visits and we have to figure out how to attract medical students to Primary Care or we aren't going to have anyone to take care of us when we are older.
The most disgusting part of the healthcare reform discussion, however, is now fully underway. I heard Newt Gingrich defending Sarah Palin's remarks about Death panels choosing euthanasia. Newt Gingrinch "reminds us" that a Government run healthcare plan would mean that euthanasia is a likely outcome of Bureaucrats being able to decide who gets healthcare and who doesn't. This, more than any crazy comment I have heard in the last year, infuriates me. It is such a disgusting idea it's hard for me to legitimize it by responding to it but I realize this idea of "death panels" is catching on with some folks. I'd like to remind folks starting to worry about Death Panels and euthanasia that Medicare is a government run entity and we certainly don't engage in Death Panels with our Medicare patients, and in fact Medicare will cover you and all of your inpatient hospital care no worries. My ICU last week was full of Medicare patients receiving the highest level of care as we should all expect. I trained at a VA Hospital in La Jolla, also Government run, and we certainly didn't engage in Death Panels or Euthanasia. In fact, I spend quite a bit of time at LA County Medical Center where folks have no coverage at all and receive excellent intensive care. Not only is this a baseless argument but to imply that Physicians would go along with Death Panels and time limits in ICUs, for example, is insulting. This discussion of Death Panels and euthanasia is uneducated, annoying, disgusting and none of us should stand for the dumbing down of this discussion. It's too important.