Saturday, April 30, 2011

More on Concierge Medicine

I recently posted about two physicians in my neighborhood closing their primary care practices in favor of a limited, fee-based concierge practice. An article in today's New York Times describes an even more extreme version - individualized telemedicine that allows wealthy people to be cared for 24/7 on their yachts for a mere $6,000 to $12,000 per month, plus $700,000 for installation of the "ready room" in the yacht, airplane or home.

As I read about this monstrosity of narcissism, an exchange between Joseph Welch, special counsel in the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings, came into mind. When McCarthy accused a young associate in Welch's firm of being part of a communist organization, Welch responded:
Until this moment, Senator, I think I have never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. Fred Fisher is a young man who went to the Harvard Law School and came into my firm and is starting what looks to be a brilliant career with us. Little did I dream you could be so reckless and so cruel as to do an injury to that lad. It is true that he will continue to be with Hale and Dorr. It is, I regret to say, equally true that I fear he shall always bear a scar needlessly inflicted by you. If it were in my power to forgive you for your reckless cruelty I would do so. I like to think that I am a gentle man but your forgiveness will have to come from someone other than me.

When McCarthy tried to renew his attack, Welch interrupted him:

Senator, may we not drop this? We know he belonged to the Lawyers Guild. Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?

McCarthy tried to ask Welch another question about Fisher, and Welch cut him off:

Mr. McCarthy, I will not discuss this further with you. You have sat within six feet of me and could ask – could have asked me about Fred Fisher. You have seen fit to bring it out. And if there is a God in Heaven it will do neither you nor your cause any good. I will not discuss it further. I will not ask Mr. Cohn any more questions. You, Mr. Chairman, may, if you will, call the next witness.
I know nothing about the individuals involved in the $700,000 medical folly, so I'm not accusing them as individuals of lack of decency. But it's deeply indecent of our society to launch exclusive islands of concierge practice and yacht-based "ready rooms" alongside of an epidemic of ill-informed rants against "Obamacare."

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