Pay attention, America | AspenTimes.com

Pay attention, America

Dear Editor:

Having practiced medicine for 50 years, my personal experience is that some of the poorest, least available and most expensive medical care is delivered under government supported programs.

Good health is dependent upon : good genotype; minimizing bad health risks, such as obesity and smoking; healthy diet and life-style choices; and the availability of good medical care when needed.

Americans should be very careful to review what is being proposed by the federal health care reform legislation. What it WILL NOT do is create any incentives for people to take personal responsibility for their health behavior. What WILL happen: The private practice of medicine as we know it will disappear, as will many of our competent physicians (with dentists soon to follow?).

Within five years every person’s public or private insurance plan will be handed bureaucratic protocols under which WILL be: Medical care rationing, long lines for mediocre to poor medical care and – don’t kid yourself, you’ll be paying for it -increased taxes for everyone. Most importantly you won’t be able to get second opinions or consultations with care givers of your choice – and doctors will be limited to mandated protocols rather than being able to treat people as individuals (Medicare already does this to some extent).

Ask your European or Canadian friends about their government run health care programs. I have a friend whose brother, a Swiss citizen, recently sustained a knee injury during recreational activity. Did he “qualify” for knee repair surgery? Nope. He was told to “live with the problem,” effectively ending the 52 year old’s active life style and saddling him with chronic pain and disability.

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Would the average active Aspen Valley resident find this acceptable? My own brother-in-law, a resident of Spain, sustained neck injuries from a fall three years ago. The 65-year-old man lost control of his arms and legs, and virtually was quadriplegic. He was told by government doctors that he had a degenerative disease for which nothing could be done. I encouraged him to return to the U.S. for a neurological workup in Chicago. Within three days he had surgery, followed by several months of physical therapy. He recovered use of all of his limbs and is as active as he was prior to the fall.

Think about this: Tell your congresspersons and senators in Washington that this rush to show everyone that they are going to provide everyone with health insurance (not CARE) could produce disastrous results.

Sid Smock, M.D.

Snowmass