Thursday, February 18, 2010

Alice in Wonderland

Here is an op-ed from Dr. Richard Weithoff at The Seymour Tribune, one of our local surgeons with his take on the present healthcare debate:
How many of us have actually read the classic fable “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” shortened to “Alice in Wonderland,” which was written in 1865 by the English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, pen name Lewis Carroll? It’s a story about a young woman who, bored by the happenings around her, falls asleep and enters into a dream state that takes her into another world. In her journey, she encounters many curious and unexpected characters with whom she must try to reason.
One of those figures is the Cheshire Cat. Remember him? He’s the enigmatic figure who smiles with teeth and gums but isn’t actually attached to his body. In chapter 6, the Cheshire Cat’s disappearance causes Alice to say, “.... a grin without a cat! It’s the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!” To Alice, Wonderland was a marvelous imaginary place that had dream-like qualities. But then she realized the reality of the place in which she found herself, and it wasn’t at all like she thought it should be.
This is the place in which we find ourselves in the present-day health care debate.
Proponents claim that the Obama plan will actually decrease our federal deficit by $129 billion over the next 10 years. Really? When was the last time you saw a government program actually save Americans money? The costs of defending medical malpractice claims alone have been estimated to be a half-trillion dollars over the next 10 years. Many other necessary expenditures have been totally ignored by both the House and Senate bills under consideration. Flannery O’Conner wrote that “Distortion is often a way of leading the people to the truth.” The figures with which the Obama administration is pushing this plan are not only totally unrealistic, they are untrue. Many learned and objective economic scholars have studied the plan, and have condemned it.
Despite all the polls that show the American people don’t want it, our president and his Congress are still trying to force this abomination upon their perceivably dumb and naive public. Charles Krauthammer said the bill “... should be immolated, its ashes spread over the Senate swimming pool.” I agree. Choose me to be a spreader. My passion regarding this very bad idea for America is not based on any motive other than knowing it will increase costs, decrease efficiency and lead to more problems with our health care delivery system than we already have. It will also assist in the bankruptcy of our country, which, with the present spending policies, seems to need no more help.
Alice finally woke up from her dream into Wonderland. It’s now time for us all to wake up and see the Cheshire Cat for what he is, a temptation that would take us into an unaffordable and dangerous world of make believe. There are ways of solving our health care problems. I suggest we start with tort reform, which will lead to an unbelievable decrease in the costs of health care, then health savings accounts, then allowing access to health insurance across state lines, then tax breaks for small businesses that offer health insurance, then insurance reform to prevent denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, then decreased taxes for those who choose to purchase affordable health insurance, then increased incentives for young people to become doctors, then ways to increase our output of quality doctors. All of these are common sense solutions to the problems facing the best health care system in this world.
I would love to see some of these ideas embraced by our leaders.
But then, maybe like Alice, I’m just dreaming.

Dr. Richard A. Wiethoff is a Seymour resident.

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