Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Yarmuth meets the Doctors

Last night I was invited by Dr. Brooks Jackson, a local urologist, to attend a meeting with Congressman John Yarmuth and invited doctors at Baptist East Hospital’s auditorium. Dr. Jackson invited me and a mutual friend to attend. Unfortunately my mutual friend whom I won’t name at this time gave me a start time of 6:00 when the meeting actually started at 5:00pm. Now Stuart Haseker is generally a really nice guy so we can’t begrudge him too much for his intentions are always honorable and that is why I won’t mention his name.

So always being prompt, I arrived at 5:30pm for the meeting expecting to be early. I found the auditorium doors closed and the hallways empty so I knew I had made it on time. I pushed on the door to be greeted by one of Congressman Yarmuth’s staff and John speaking to the “good doctors”. At this time I am totally confused but realize the meeting has started so I to find a seat in the back.

In the two previous meetings, John has mentioned that he is not holding a lot of town hall meetings since they seem to be disruptive and antagonizing. He mentioned at the Democratic Club meeting held last week held at the American Legion that he can generally tell if the audience is receptive or not and they obviously were receptive at the Democratic Club. At the GLI meeting Friday, I could not tell how most of the crowd felt.

Last night was a different crowd John had to contend with. My First Impression was John was not in the presence of a friendly crowd.

As I sat down I could almost feel the tension in the room. There was a screen behind John with the slide America’s Affordability Health Choices Act. Quality Affordable Health Care with the bullet points:

. Provides funding to help, recruit, train, and retain
. Creates and expand new scholarships and loan repayment programs
. Doubles the National Health Service Corps
. Graduate Medical Education Act of 2007

But none of these items were in the discussion.

To be honest the Doctors were grilling him. I can’t say that this was the typical scene that you see at town hall meetings on TV but I can attest that most of the Doctors did not like what they were hearing. (Quite frankly I think Yarmuth didn’t like what he was hearing) Most of the doctors were stating their individual problems as examples of what they did not like about the bill and they were even making suggestions for the bill. At this point a frustrated Yarmuth asked “What would you like us to do?”

I bet the reader will have a hard time guessing the doctor’s most important suggestion. Well it was Tort Reform. When this was brought up John said, “Well we can look at that too”. I found this remark rather disingenuous since in 1100 pages of this bill there is no mention of Tort Reform. One doctor actually started quoting the problems by page number and paragraph items he had problems with. Yarmuth basically said “he is reading from a sheet of paper” which at this point the doctor raised up a stack of paper which was the whole bill. To say this doctor had not done his homework would be foolish. To be honest I think John was out of his league at this meeting. Several times after suggestions to change the bill John kept saying, “Well, we can do that too or we can look into that too”

One doctor actually brought up the point that this bill would override the many years of education that she had and the many years of experience she had and put the decisions in the hands of the likes of government bureaucrats and insurance companies. Who truly do not know the implications of the medical field. I believe it was the same doctor that suggested that they just do a little bit at a time and see how that works before revamping the whole bill. Like taking on catastrophic care first and watch that for a while and then trying something else etc. Again John mentioned “We can look into that too.”

John also brought up the support of the AMA (American Medical Association) and received an overall reaction from the audience which seemed to me to be laughable. John responded by saying he knew that the AMA only represented about 20% of the doctors population to which several calls from the audience stated more like 18 % and then 16%. One doctor also asked from the audience, by a show of hands, how many were currently actively involved or had been involved with membership to the AMA. Three doctors out of the 150-200 that I estimated to be there raised their hands.

I realize I am bias and I try to paint an unbiased report as I attend these meetings but I must say this meeting was the most negative meeting against the current Health Care Bill as proposed by Congress that John has attended. It is important to note that the doctors were very civil but were also demonstrative in their negative opinion of the bill.

See you tomorrow at Central High School. Arrive early and make sure you bring an ID.

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