A close friend and physician mentor once said to a group of physicians and citizens, "we all either are or will be patients someday, including we physicians." This simple but poignant introduction at a meeting to discuss patient freedom and the profession of medicine comes to mind in light of recent events.
Many are aware of the contentious discussions between hospital systems and health insurers that have garnered much attention.
I pose the following questions :
Physicians -- If every day we strenuously exert ourselves to defend patients as victims of disease, are we doing everything we can to defend them as victims of health care politics?
And the following question to all -- Who really owns our hospitals? (Hint: Taxes pay for Medicare, Medicaid and grants. Employers use our equity to pay for health care. We are the sources of philanthropy and volunteer activity. We support "nonprofit" entities.)
So I ask this question to all -- Is it unethical for any nonprofit health care entity to violate the bond between patients, their physicians and hospitals by removing them from well-established insurers? (Hint: These hospitals are really the citizens' community assets.)
If you answered "yes," my next question is -- What have you done knowing that someday you will be a patient if you have not been one yet?
To quote Edmund Burke: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
Insist that your legislators protect you against the anti-patient health care politics that will soon victimize you.
DENNIS GABOS, M.D.
The writer is a practicing physician in the Pittsburgh area.