America: Closed until further notice

If you have a pulse, you know that the past couple of weeks have been a bit bumpy for America.

It is not my objective to get super political in this blog, but with healthcare at the root of this situation, there is something I must address. Yes, the proverbial “elephant” in the room….or NOT IN THE ROOM, as it were.

Whether you agree with their objective or not – a few weeks ago, in the eleventh hour of debt ceiling discussions, the Republican-led House of Representatives, decided to take the government hostage – a political form of extortion to stop Obamacare. No matter how you may feel about healthcare reform, this Congressional folly is embarrassing, confounding and most of all, concerning. Yeah, I know: In five years this will be made into a blockbuster movie starring Denzel Washington. But, put down the popcorn – right now, this drama is far too real.

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The bee in my bonnet is this: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is intended to provide accessible affordable healthcare for all Americans. Ya with me? Now, despite the contrary media sound bites – it is the law, which makes it neither unconstitutional nor negotiable. FYI, ACA became a law in 2010 – and was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2012, which makes it divinely constitutional! Because this law was advocated and signed by President Obama, it has been nicknamed “Obamacare”. Simple right? Yet, endless tweets, posts and rants reveal a lack of knowledge from sad, misinformed, confused people – from both sides, who believe ACA and Obamacare are two separate things. Help! This is perhaps the biggest cringe-factor: A majority of Americans have no clue what is going on.

As a mid-level practitioner in a busy metropolitan Emergency Department, I’ve experienced an expansive slice of the healthcare system. Truth be told, when patients ask about billing and coverage, I direct them to a patient rep….yeah, even I have no clue how it’s supposed to work, because the rules are constantly  changing.

I have seen thousands of patients without insurance. Sadly, some of those patients are eligible for government assistance, but are unable to navigate the paperwork and documentation required to apply for aid. And most unfortunately, I have also seen patients on government assistance who shamelessly spend taxpayer money to take an ambulance to the emergency room, because they think they sneezed two days ago. I wish this was a joke, but it is not. It’s a hot mess!

I am becoming disenchanted. Our current healthcare system is beyond damaged, and is abused from all sides. The $90 doctor visit has been replaced by the $900 doctor visit. ‘In the interest of the patient’ has been replaced with ‘in the interest of cost’. The Hippocratic Oath has been replaced with hypocrisy. The system is broken.

So, why oh why would Congress want to stop Obamacare? Sure, it’s not perfect. It’s a work in progress. However, let us be real –  the extremists spear-heading this government shut down are protecting their interests. Money. Dinero. Moolah. The moneymakers of healthcare are not the practitioners or the researchers – the real serious money is in pharmaceuticals, hospitals, and insurance companies. Unlike our current system, the ACA will regulate these things, by setting boundaries and applying policies that will level the healthcare playing field so that everyone can have access to affordable care. That, my friends, is why Congress is behaving like duped mafioso. Congress is pissed, and rightly so – Obamacare is taking over their turf. BTW Denzel is gonna rock in the movie version!

How sad is it that America is one of this world’s only developed nations without universal healthcare? It’s like the rest of the world is using iPhones and we’re still using smoke signals. What are we to do? Well, we can’t keep going the way we have been. Obamacare may not have all the answers, but it’s a step forward. One thing is certain: Shutting down the government is not a solution.

Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will soon be a thing of the past….I’m worried for our future. There is no telling how this mess will end, or if it will get worse. We can’t go backward, so we must move forward. Hopefully toward something better. But, I think it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

I believe it was Matthew “Stymie” Beard of The Little Rascals who once said, “I don’t know where I’m goin’, but I’m on my way.” True dat Stymie, true dat.