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A revolution, plotted in secrecy.

Some critics say tge Clinton administration's health insurance program will be delivered with the celestial authority of the Ten Commandments. Without any effort to draw upon the expertise of the medical profession, insurance specialists and other experts, a group of unelected volunteers will have designed a health care program for the country that promises to bring a utopia to the multitiudes who are ill. Mr. and Mrs. Clinton seem to have little doubt of their idea's success.

Others are not so certain. The medical profession, for example, feels slighted. No one has asked the opinion of doctors who will be dealing with the new system. Many critics are annoyed: why is the administration telling the public that free medical care for everyone will not carry a great financial burden paid for by the middle class and the "rich."

In a recent editorial, the medical journal Postgraduate Medicine (5/1/93) are expressed dismay at the proposal and the apparent ignorance that officials in the United States Department of Health and Human Services display.

Commenting upon an address by Donna Shalala, the new secretary of the organization, the medical publication wondered how a health-care system could be devised by "folks who don'rt know they don't know!"

"She seemed confused. Looking up from her prepared script, she didn't know why doctors in the audience were laughing. It took several minutes for our highest-ranking paid government official to figure out she had said something wrong. She had just declared, 'Drinking is the major cause of psoriasis.' After struggling to find her place in the script, with some coaching from behind, she shouted out 'cirrhosis,' adding 'You know the problem is that I haven't been able to get to an ophthalmologist since I arrived in Washington.'" The editorial asks, "What else doesn't she know?"

It is best not to prejudge President Clinton and his wife's grandiose notions for national health insurance. But rumors are rife that expectations are too high and devices for making health insurance work without bankrupting the treasury are unrealistic.

Unfortunately, many people imagine that the Administration will succeed in hanging the burden of paying the bills on employers ands the "rich." Such promises surrounded the recent budget bill, and the public is slowly learning that it will be saddled with many of the IOUs.

The Postgraduate Medicine journal editorial echoes many of the dissatisfactions of the medical profession and much of the public: "Instead of seriously working with physicians who take care of patients, 511 people were organized into 37 secret working groups to come up with serious options for Hillary Clinton and the rest of the inner circle who are really making the decisions."

Perhaps when the final package is eventually revealed, some of the salient features will include an emphasis on preventative health care. Who would disagree with the aphorism that "a stitch in time will save nine?" A dollar spent to insure healthfulness can save much more when needed to patch up a broken body.

The medical profession has a justified gripe in complaining that their advice was not solicited; the public may later complain that true costs were glossed over; the impartial observer can be pardoned for asking why not emphasize preventative care, or whether government should be involved in the matter at all.
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Title Annotation:Clinton administration's health insurance program
Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Jun 22, 1993
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