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My wife is even more ardent and passionate in her liberalism than I am - although she has no Daily Kos account, and only reads diaries which I forward to her.  She's a pediatrician, and has always had a quite favorable opinion of the Affordable Care Act.  (She's also deeply compassionate, delightfully creative, keenly articulate, and ever-so beautiful, but don't these attributes bias you.)

A few weeks ago, she submitted an article to the local newspaper of Dahlonega Georgia, the town in which she has a pediatric practice.  I waited to see what response came in the form of letters to the editor, and thus far, there have been none.  (I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing here in rabidly Republican Nawth Jawja.)  

In any event, its a fine article; I'm quite proud of her for writing it, and want to share it here.      

Medicine should not be big business, benefitting CEOs of hospitals and insurance companies

Stephanie Corn, MD
Dahlonega-based Pediatrician
August 13, 2014

“Above all, do no harm” is the summation of the Hippocratic Oath, vows taken by impassioned, young doctors as they embark on their careers.  We solemnly promised to treat all patients with respect and humility, irrespective of race, creed, nationality, sexual orientation, political affiliation, or social standing; with conscience and heart.  I couldn’t have predicted how integral a part this code of ethics would play within America’s conundrum with The Affordable Care Act.

As a Pediatrician, I can’t imagine practicing medicine for any other reason than to take the best possible care of my patients, without regard to the color of their skin, the car they drive or the neighborhood in which they live.  Our political climate aside, isn’t this what all of us would want for our children and parents, for each other, ourselves?  It begs the question, why the concept of Universal Healthcare, the crux of the ACA, always becomes so divisive?  Why has President Obama’s attempt to move us towards a healthcare delivery system that works for all Americans, been fraught with such political mayhem?

Since the advent of the ACA, I have seen a measurable improvement in access to care in my private practice; for example, patients no longer have to pay for well checks, eliminating the financial barrier to the preventive care this country so desperately needs to tackle many of the illnesses we’ve created from bad lifestyle choices (like obesity, diabetes, heart and lung disease).  I see more business owner’s kids whose parents weren’t able to afford insurance before The Marketplace came into being.  More families can get care under the expansion of Medicaid.  And despite the warnings from many of my colleagues, some of our revenues have actually increased because of the law.    

I believe that this country’s tussle with the ACA has been instigated by corporations who stand to lose their golden parachutes the closer we come to a universal healthcare system. It baffles me how we let Medicine become Big Business, how we allowed the delivery of medical care to be hijacked by Corporate America.  It shouldn’t be this difficult to provide quality healthcare to all walks of life without running our practices into the ground. There is too much bureaucracy interfering with our ability to provide efficient care, and too many of the medical dollars padding the pockets of insurance company CEOs instead of being used for the expansion of patient care.

I believe if the American people could come together, place our partisan differences aside, and just do the right thing, we’d make medical care available to all citizens, no matter what, as our inalienable right - not just for those who can afford it.  I see the ACA’s success in its attempt to pare down inefficiencies, eliminating redundancies and improving access to care, so that we, the physicians, can set about doing what we took an oath to do: apply our art to the care of all in need, and above all, do no harm.  

The Dahlonega Nugget has a weekly feature called Toss-Up in which "a different pair of of local contributors will address issues ranging from hotly-contested Dahlonega-related issues to the national headlines that impact us here at home."  The topic for the August 13th issue was Is 'Obamacare' good or bad for the residents of Lumpkin County?

The "opposing" opinion came from David J. Miller, Ph.D., who is identified as Lumpkin County Republican Party.  The following is from a teaparty website promoting a meeting last May in which he was speaking:  

Dr. Miller is currently an Associate Professor of Business and Health Science at Brenau University where he directs the MBA program in Healthcare Management. He has previously served on the medical school faculties of Emory University and the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Miller received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Missouri-Columbia and is President of Alpharetta-based, MPA Holdings, LLC. He is an Executive Associate of the Brookings Institute in Washington, DC, graduate of the Healthcare Leadership Institute, and Fellow of the American Board of Professional Psychology. David’s wife is a pediatric psychologist and owner of Miller Psychological Associates, LLC in Alpharetta.
Several things interest me about Dr. Miller.  He is a professor who directs the Healthcare MBA program at a university in an adjoining county.  But he (like me) is also a clinical psychologist by training, who it would appear has no clinical practice, and seems less invested in promoting healing than in protecting the business interests of the health industry.  His wife, a pediatric psychologist, practices in one of the wealthiest cities in Georgia; I wonder if she shares his negative opinion of the Affordable Care Act.

His Toss-Up concludes:

Perhaps, as a national policy, the ACA is well-intended but it will have long term negative fiscal and personal consequences.  Worse of all, if ever fully implemented and after years of dividing the country, it just probably won't work.
I'm hoping to remember, ten years from now, to write Dr. Miller a letter, and ask him if he stands by his pessimistic statements of August 2014. . .
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