Healthcare & Politics: Why We Should Be Mad As Hell

Jumping the Shark is the moment when a long-running TV show changes to stay fresh. It is that moment viewers realize that the show has run out of ideas. It has reached its peak, it will never be the same again, and from now on it is all downhill.

I am not sure what you call it when the presidency of the United States does so but rest assured 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has “jumped the shark” or the equivalent.

Healthcare is an expensive endeavor, but there is another aspect of health care that the president does not seem to get: it is a major employer. Ironically, in pivotal states that got Trump to the White House, such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio, healthcare employment is higher there than in most parts of the country.

In Pennsylvania for instance, the health care sector makes up 10.3% of the work force.

Why then does this president continue to attack the Affordable Care Act? With no other plan in place, letting the ACA fail, as the president suggests will not just leave people with no insurance, it will leave many without jobs.

Moreover, the yo-yo behaviors of the Congress and the president about health care leaves those of us running hospitals, large medical groups, and health insurance companies unable to plan in any meaningful way. If the ACA goes by way of the buggy whip, so goes a considerable part of hospital and practice revenue. It will lead to people once again being forced to get primary care in emergency rooms and hospitals not getting paid for services. It will mean an increase in personal bankruptcies and fewer people employed will mean fewer people engaging in the economy.

Healthcare is in trouble, and our president’s response to this mounting crisis is sending out incendiary tweets about failing Obama Care. It is untenable and cruel to all of the people who depend on Medicaid – be it patients or employers.

Manufacturing jobs are not coming back, because of automation and productivity that technology has brought to this industry. Coal is not coming back in any meaningful way. These are the realities of 2017 and instead of telling people that these industries have changed in much the same way communications have. Long gone are rotary phones, three television networks, and telex! However, Mr. Trump would rather live in a dreamy 1956, planning a trip to the Sock Hop then attend to the needs of the citizens of the United States and their healthcare requirements.

Healthcare, as an employer is bigger than food service and construction combined, imagine what happens when an industry like this one stumbles, trips or fails.

It has been a dizzying six months from this administration, and all that has come to pass are failures to fix a policy that has helped more Americans get health insurance than any other.

“Repeal and Replace.”

“Death Spiral”

“Skinny Repeal”

They are all terms that describe the same thing, dismantling a current law in secret that will send insurance costs soaring, make sick people sicker and leave millions without access to healthcare. It will keep wages flat in a huge employment sector, and there will be layoffs and pay cuts.

This president knows nothing about healthcare policy, and we are going to hurt if he continues on this ruinous path.

It is so easy (well almost impossible) not to become distracted by “Russiagate” or attacks on the AG, not to mention the “ten days of the Mooch” that one forgets that ACA needs repair. With every distraction, another day passes, and those of us charged with making sure clinic doors stay open are left wondering what is going to happen.

The United States is battling public health emergencies such as tick borne illness, unprecedented opioid addiction, obesity and recently we learned that men in the US are producing half the sperm that they did 20 years ago.

However, rather than deal with these pressing matters, which means interventions from health care professionals, we are transfixed by a 71-year-old man who’s inability to focus on anything but his Twitter account and a majority in the Congress who are unwilling to call a spade a spade.

We all deserve better.

Joshua Powell
About the author: 

Josh Powell is the Chief Executive Officer at Capital Region Special Surgery, a medical practice in New York with Neurosurgery, Ear, Nose and Throat, Ear Institute, Neurology, Pain Management, Sleep Wake, Physical Therapy and Diagnostic Imaging practices.  Previously Mr. Powell was the Chief Executive Officer at Northeast Neurosurgery.  Josh earned a Bachelor’s and a Master’s Degree from the State University of New York (SUNY).  Follow him on Twitter.