“I just want to tell the government to slow down, get it right or don’t do it at all,” said Dr. Dan Windsor, the St. Louis-area addiction specialist who led the Million Med March rally on Saturday afternoon outside the St. Louis County Government Building in downtown Clayton. “We’re for health care reform, but responsible health care reform.”
One of at least 21 rallies held in cities across the country, the St. Louis event attracted more than 300 people — including physicians, nurses, other medical professionals, and ordinary citizens — who, like Windsor, favor the concept of health care reform but oppose the reforms contained in legislation now making its way through the U.S. Senate.
“We feel this is pretty irresponsible, very irresponsible to proceed in the dark of night, to put together 2,000-page bills with all the legalese in there that you can’t understand,” Windsor explained.
Pointing to words most people do understand (i.e., mandates, penalties, agencies, commissions, and programs), he summarized his feelings about the aforementioned legislation by saying, “It all sounds like a lot of bureaucracy that’s gonna be tough to get through for me to see my patients.”
Dr. Robert Wiele shared views surprisingly similar to those shared among members of the fast-growing tea party movement during the past year.
“Increased government involvement will not help anybody,” said Wiele, an emergency room physician with 27 years of professional experience. “It will not give more care, and it will be unaffordable.
“You only have to look to Massachusetts,” he continued. “Care has suffered, and they’re running out of money. It’s unsustainable.
“You can also look at our (Veterans Administration) system which is inefficient and has total government control. In fact, they even have protection from lawsuits, but can’t make it work efficiently.”
More important to Wiele, however, is his belief that it is unconstitutional to require people do or buy something.
“The idea of having to buy insurance or go to jail totally is unconstitutional and takes our liberties away,” he said.
1. Ultimately, medical decisions need to be made by doctors and their patients.
2. No legislation should become law without serious tort reform.
3. Insurance can be made more affordable by eliminating state monopolies and allowing the portability of health insurance across state lines.
4. Transform the reimbursement and billing systems that are strangling our practices.
5. End the National Practitioner Data Bank and other entities that are unfairly censuring doctors without due process.
Despite the fact that 92 percent of the nearly 2,000 physicians who responded to a Jackson Healthcare survey earlier this month said they believe the number one way to reduce health care costs is via tort reform, tort reform isn’t included in either of the bills now being pushed in Congress by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
Kimberly Wiele, a radiologist and wife of Dr. Robert Wiele, thinks members of Congress are wrong when they leave serious tort reform out of the debate.
“I absolutely think that, if we could address (tort reform) seriously, it would really do a lot so that people wouldn’t have to practice medicine defensively and they don’t have to order additional tests just to cover themselves and protect themselves.
“A lot of the diagnostic tests that get ordered are because physicians are afraid to not order that extra CT scan or that extra x-ray,” she explained. “They want to have done everything they can to protect themselves from lawsuits.”
Physicians aren’t the only ones concerned about protecting themselves. Legislators like Republican state Sen. Jane Cunningham of Missouri’s 7th District are involved in efforts to protect states’ rights from an overreaching federal government.
Speaking to the crowd, Senator Cunningham said she plans to introduce the Health Care Freedom Act in the Missouri legislature soon.
According to the senator, the measure is a constitutional amendment similar to ones being waged in at least 20 states and would protect Missourians from the unconstitutional federal health care mandates and protect their rights to make their own medical and insurance choices.
In addition, Senator Cunningham explained that the legislation will (1) include the right for individuals to pay health care providers directly and (2) protect small business owners from being forced to swallow up to eight percent penalties on payroll taxes for not adhering to the federal government standard of insurance.
If it gets through the House and the Senate, she said the constitutional amendment will not require the signature of the governor.
“It will go directly to a vote of the people,” Senator Cunningham said to thunderous applause.
“If we get all of these through our legislatures,” she explained, “it will set up a showdown on states’ rights before the U.S. Supreme Court, and I say, ‘Bring it on!’”