Questions I need answered before I can support any health care plan (even the present one).

Presently all the arguments seem to come out in the abstract language of demagogues. I need concrete information.

Here’s what I want to know:

When I go to the doctor, what authority will he have and what authority will I have to make a decision about my health?

Who will be influencing, overseeing, or otherwise affecting his judgment?

How many people will need to approve the decisions? Who are they? What are their medical qualifications? What information will they be given and in what form? Why are they justified in influencing the counsel of my doctor?

How many non-medical factors will affect the decisions? What are they? Why are they affecting the decision? What can I do about them? What can my doctor do about them?

What other medical obligations will my doctor be bound by? Why? How will those other obligations affect his judgment on my condition? Will he be able to fulfill them with a clean conscience?

To whom are the other influencers accountable for their impact on my doctors decisions? Will I be able to meet them and hear their arguments as they decide on factors that determine the quality of my physical life?

How much will any treatments actually cost? Will I be able to find out ahead of time? How?

Who will receive the documents developed when I visit the doctor? What will they do with them? Will the viewers have medical training? Do I have any reason to be confident that the reviewer of the paper will have the qualifications and resources (such as, for example, time and information) to give my life and health the attention it deserves?

What are the weakest links in the chain of communication? In other words, where is medical expertise least needed to move the paper from one in-tray to the next? What prevents that link from breaking the whole chain?

What sort of medical/scientific philosophy and assumptions will the people who are making these decisions about my well-being accept, honor, or be committed to? Does my philosophy about my health have any impact on how the information gathered is reviewed and acted upon?

If any one of these questions goes unanswered, then the health care plan cannot possibly succeed in the best interests of the health of people who are sick.

Has there ever been a more apt application of the ancient proverb than to the government as it seeks to govern our health care system even more than it already does: Physician, heal thyself.

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