The journey to nationalization and socialized medicine…

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Dr. Michael J. O’Connell, Barrington, New Hampshire noted that there are many healthcare professionals, as well as lay people, who believe strongly that the federal government is the answer to this country’s healthcare problems.  This should not be surprising since when we confront catastrophies, such as invading forces in World War II and cataclysmic natural disasters, it is the organization already in place in the form of big government which seems most capable of mobilizing defense and relief.  So it is predictable that many should feel the same about healthcare.

If we assume the premise, that there is indeed a problem with healthcare…is there a flaw in this thinking?  Dr Michael J. O’Connell feels that we might learn something from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.  “We all read this powerful novel of the stifling effects of nationalization of industry and socialization of society – the book was very entertaining, but when I read it as a freshman in high school, it seemed only a remote possibility, if even that.  Well, we are poised in this country and have already begun to take the plunge, into the nationalization of healthcare.  In my opinion, while government regulation of healthcare has proven to have salient effects in a number of areas (vaccination programs, investigations of epidemics or lethal infectious outbreaks, care of the permanently infirm, the hopelessly demented) the general trend toward more restrictions and government control over healthcare will likely have an overall suffocating effect on the system.  Even though Obamacare has not even reached its pinnacle effects, the healthcare industry is heavily impacted now, by fear of the future.  Hospitals are girding for turf battles by inefficiently gobbling up ASCs and office space, physicians are saddled with debt due to reduced reimbursements (in real dollars) and staring at the EHR requirements by Obamacare and selling their practices to various institutions or simply going out of practice (see Atlas Shrugged), pharma is retracting from research and development and have laid off half their representative workforce (ibid).  All of this for fear of the increased and impending government controls, with its multitude of intended and unintended effects.”

There are three examples I would like to describe of the effect of nationalization, of government imposing its will on a populace.

#1        In 1986, I visited East Germany by rail from Stuttgart West Germany into Berlin, and then crossed to the East through the infamous “checkpoint Charlie.”  West Berlin was a thriving historical, clean, and vibrant city.  Upon passing through the gate in the Berlin Wall, East Berlin loomed before us, gray, homogenous, police infested, with stores that sold little or nothing, all cars were same small cheap Russian vehicles that were notorious for poor quality, massive pollution and frequent breakdowns and they littered the streets.

#2        Social security disability – This program is highly abused by any measure.  We see it everyday in our practice.  Folks who have been declared by their physician to be ‘disabled,’ and yet are able to drive, to celebrate, to walk, to obtain nourishment, to talk.  Why are they on permanent disability?  How can they possibly qualify?  Are there conflicts of interest among the professionals involved?

#3        Food stamps – It is not heart warming to see our tax money at work at the grocery store check-out line.  The unhealthy foods that are purchased with these stamps is mind boggling, but not more so than the fact that most of these food stamp recipients are vastly overweight, unmarried and often several filthy children in tow.  I am usually assailed at this point by liberal defenders who point out that poverty necessitates the purchase of cheap high fat, high sugar, high caloric foods that are naturally unhealthy.  The facts are that fresh vegetables are less expensive than equal quantities of highly processed foods; albeit less tasty, they are low calorie, high in nutrients and fiber – all the necessities to grow healthy lean bodies.  How many cans of V-8 juice vs. Coke are purchased using food stamps?

Consistent with the theme of Atlas Shrugged… “each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” this country is slowly sliding toward socialism, and Obamacare is yet another nudge in that journey.”

About Dr. Michael J. O'Connell, New Hampshire
Dr. Michael J. O'Connell of Barrington, New Hampshire, has forged a distinguished career spanning over three decades, as entrepreneur, physician, businessman, philanthropist and healthcare consultant. As former owner, administrator and CEO of a 225+ employee multi-specialty medical practice, Dr. O'Connell has dedicated his entire professional life to helping patients with family medicine and especially those experiencing chronic pain and all aspects of addiction. Since selling his family of healthcare businesses, he has never once contemplated retirement despite his rich and fulfilling journey, but instead has turned his focus to consulting in an industry starved for courage and creativity. Having weathered many political, technological and legal challenges, there is hardly a storm he has not confronted, a tempest he has not quelled, an urgent need he has not met. While the talking heads and self-proclaimed experts in the field have assumed the conventions and standards of the times, Dr. O'Connell does not believe in merely reflecting the herd mentality, but rather in leading the charge. Eschewing political correctness, Dr. O'Connell says and does what needs saying and doing, and not what the mindless masses expect. In addition to the continual education afforded by his variegated life experiences, Dr O'Connell earned his BS in Biochemistry at the University of NH in 1975, his Medical Degree from Dartmouth College in 1981, interned at Walter Reed Medical Center in 1982, Residency/Fellowship at UCSF in1986, and finished his Masters in Healthcare Administration at UNH in 1995. Dr. O’Connell enjoys many outdoor activities, including rock climbing, snowboarding, hiking, and golf. Through the decades Dr. O'Connell has supported many non-profit charities to include the St. Charles Home in Rochester NH, the Tri City VNA and Hospice, Hyder House, and Cocheco Valley Humane Society. To the latter organization alone Dr. O'Connell has donated over $180,000 and pledged another $250,000 in the “Bring-Us-Home” campaign for a new building. His “Matching Donations Christmas drive” has generated over $175,000 in charitable giving from the community. In addition Dr. O'Connell has participated in many dozens of other volunteer and donation efforts locally as well as in Africa and the Dominican Republic. For a listing of how I gave back to the community during my career and continue to do see: https://michaeloconnellmdnh.wordpress.com/

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