Sunday, June 1, 2008

The importance of medical privacy

I'm republishing a report on a health care town meeting in Rochester, Minnesota, May 7, 1994, which included this statement on medical privacy. Over the years I have frequently recounted Dr. Henderson's point,
The final speaker, Dr. Ed Henderson, retired from Mayo Clinic, and presently the executive director of the Zumbro Valley Medical Society and Emeritus Professor of Orthopedic Surgery in the Mayo Medical School, began with appreciation for being included at this event. He expressed his belief that physicians have been deliberately left out of the debate. The important facet of health care disregarded as a result has been the physician-patient relationship, the direct contact between doctor and patient that serves as a basis for care. The patient must see his doctor as his advocate, making sure that decisions are made that will ensure that patient will get the best treatment. Trust is critical. The confidentiality of their conversation is necessary for a proper diagnosis and treatment. I asked Dr. Henderson if he was aware of any organization taking a strong stand on the principle of medical privacy. He was aware of not one such group.

Shall we trust Clinton? Why not trust ourselves?
Casey Bowman, Minnesota Libertarian, June 1994, p. 7

Here's the rest of the report, which preceded the two paragraphs above,
Health Care Reform Meeting
by Casey Bowman

On May 7, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) sponsored their second Meeting on Health Care Reform. Before the meeting began, MN State Representative Gil Gutknecht, who chaired the host committee and introduced the speakers at this event, came up to us members of the LPM and talked with us in a manner of mutual respect. ALEC organizers gave us permission to put our "Project Health Choice" literature describing the National Libertarian Party health care proposal at the welcome desk. ALEC was true to its own words "empowering citizens in the health care debate."

The speakers in attendance were Congressman John Linder from Georgia, Wendell Cox of ALEC, Carl Parks from Citizens for a Sound Economy, Congressman Rod Grams, and Dr. Ed Henderson, Emeritus Professor of Surgery at the Mayo Medical School.

Congressman Linder attributed to Disraeli a sequence such as, "Bondage... Faith... Understanding... Courage... Liberty... Abundance... Complacency... Dependency... Bondage..." We need to learn from history and rebuild "understanding" before "dependency" sets in. Linder also warned that the Clinton plan intends to control entry into specialist practice.

The next speaker, Wendell Cox, warned against the coming rationing by waiting in line, by age, and/or by whom you know. He mentioned the "equality of poverty" experienced in the USSR, to which I might add it was an "equality of the graveyard" for millions.

Carl Parks, of Citizens for a Sound Economy, a group founded ten years ago at George Mason University with 250,000 current members, started by explaining that the term "universal coverage" is fine rhetoric, but what it means for everyone is a system like that provided to the veterans in VA hospitals. Parks felt the government is currently pushing the Gulf War Syndrome under the rug because they do not want to spend the money correcting the problem.

The speakers pointed out that the debate in Congress is not fair and the vote will not be either. Medical Savings Accounts have strong bi-partisan support and would be in the fore if Clinton had not been elected. The problem is the committee power hierarchy. For example, Senator Dingell is chair of some important committee. In exchange for the votes of four southern oil state members, he promises his support on oil import fees. Let us hope that Congressman Linder, who serves on the Committee on Committees, will work on the reform of committees. If the Republicans fail to reform the inequality in Congress among those elected to the same office, the Libertarians must address this issue vociferously. It is crucial.

Many in attendance believed that the Clinton plan was only a temporary stop on the way to a single-payer plan. That is, the socialization of medical care will necessarily follow the socialization of health care insurance. Representative Gil Gutkneckt reported that our own state Senator Linda Berglin is advocating MinnCare as a temporary plan that will lead our state down the road to a single-payer system.

The final speaker, Dr. Ed Henderson...

This article was originally published in The Minnesota Libertarian, June 1994, pp 5, 7. The author and the original publication are due attribution.

No comments: