OldVet on Boomers and the Medical System

This one is by OldVet…

I ran across an excellent video of a speech by ex-Gov of Oregon Kitzhaber, who is also a medical doctor, on health care and the Baby Boomers.

It’s an eloquent description of the problem but Kitzhaber did not also offer a prescription for its cure – no magic bullet.

The good ex-Gov indicated a process of cure rather than something quick and simple, due to fear and procrastination and selfishness among the population. Nobody stepped in to blow the whistle on the extravagance, excess, and speculative fevers of the 1920’s, either, which led to the Great Depression, and which was preventable. Even FDR couldn’t bring America’s finest generation into WWII for years after the barbaric onslaught of Hitler on Europe had already begun. We may simply be dealing with human nature rather than modern politics.

There may be some way to perfect America’s portion of mankind, which is after all the ideal of all utopian religions like democracy, Christianity, communism, and Islam. First might be to engender some sense, however tenuous, of love for others. Second, to engender some willingness to work without reward towards a higher goal than the selfish preoccupation of ordinary existence.

It’s been done, or almost done, by movements like the Peace Corps, Americorps, Doctors without Borders, and the like. Unfortunately, official organizations like the UN have rapidly devolved into bureaucratic structures where people work to make a living or take some advantage for themselves. So the quasi-private model seems more robust, where people work for expenses and food, out of some desire to improve the human condition. For the Baby Boomer generation, at least those among its members who already have some vested pension or means of personal support, look like the most likely targets. They (we) have been the beneficiaries of the old system, and it’s obviously time to give back something. Remember the old SCORE program of retired executives who helped small businesses to get started and solve problems? That seemed to work fairly well, although limited in scope and purpose.

Whether some mass movement can overcome the obstacles of such a technically complex system such as medical care or energy sourcing is an unknown. But I suspect if success is to be achieved, it will have to be the older generation who has the free time and accumulated knowledge who will have to carry out the work.

* First, would be the education of the public to having their medical records put into electronic form and accessible, a huge paranoia hurdle. This has been offered before but met with a storm of legal wrangling.

* Second would be the manning of “checkup” or neighborhood clinics that review minor health complaints for little or nothing, without the need of health insurance. That would move the ball on prevention and start reducing emergencies which are bankrupting the current system. That’s in line with the “team vs. lone wolf” concept of Kitzhaber.

* Third would be an education of the public that good health is NOT equal to eternal life, which unrealistic expectation is fully engrained in Americans at this point, perhaps awed by the science they hear about or the blandishments of health care professionals who are always willing to go the extra mile and then some. Adults who are not mentally impaired would be advised they are responsible for killing themselves with drugs and alcohol, for example, and that society has less responsibility for them than for those who change their behaviors.

* Fourth would be the “commoditization” of the most common chronic problems of old age such as heart attacks, congestive heart failure, and organ failure cited by Kitzhaber. Now such problems are emergency procedures often tailored and customized to individuals, and exacerbated by the self-adopted medical profession’s code of preserving human life at all costs.

* Fifth, that large monetary prizes of great prestige would reward successful medical research into cures and drugs that advance medical science, rather than having large corporations make massive profits from pharmaceuticals and devices, and which effectively create massive inefficiencies in medicine. This would be in line with the “transition” of interested “stakeholders” to a new system, in which brilliance rather than marketing were rewarded. All drug firms would become generic drug makers, for example. One can meet weeping about the “demise of capitalism” in medicine by pointing out the great rewards going to the most brilliant and hardworking medical research teams, rather than to their corporate bureaucracies and passive shareholders.

I was thinking yesterday about the theme of “change” in a totally different context. The subjects were political campaigns, of people, and how they change over time in politics. I watched the following finale meeting of the 1992 Clinton campaign team of a decade and a half ago. Carville knew a thing or two then, even if he and the man he elected have gotten lost since then. See The Glory Days.

Got a better solution?

This one was by OldVet.