Tony and Ira ran small businesses in America all their adult lives; they understand budgets. They think the government is going broke — and in their early years, they’ve seen governments go broke before. They have seen big ambitious government plans do great damage, and so they maintain a deep suspicion of even the best intentions. I truly hope they are wrong, that the changes wrought by a federal health plan will not, to them, be familiar ones.
For a busy surgeon, this is typically a crazy time of the year. Children in from college, patients who have met their deductible, and those who have been trying all sorts of non-operative modalities who have finally decided that they want to try surgery. This year WAS a bit different. As Scott points out, many Medicare patients are scheduling procedures now, even though they have *resisted* previously. These folks are very skeptical that the government has even the most remote chance of succeeding on the health care front. They are afraid of “death panels” and “rationing” and they do not want to “miss their opportunity.” They don’t understand the health care reform bill (and our Senators don’t either) nor are they making an effort to. What these folks share in common is an overwhelming distrust of the government and what they perceive will be a significant impact on their ability to have total joint replacement or rotator cuff repair surgery under government guidelines.
What’s different between these patients and me is that they have lived through periods of big government intervention… and they are scared. That gives me cause for concern.