Sunday, January 8, 2012

A New Blog About Medicare

I started a second blog on New Year's day - "Seniors for Medicare Reform." I'd been dithering about doing it for many months, and I couldn't bear the idea of entering 2012 without getting going.

I define the goals this way on the masthead:
"A voice for seniors who believe that health care should be guided by patients' values, that the care system needs more compassion and less technology, and that Medicare costs should be constrained for the sake of future generations."
Here's the thinking behind the goals for the new blog:
A voice for seniors: Politicians assume that all Medicare beneficiaries are "greedy geezers" monolithically fixated on keeping Medicare exactly as it is. I'm convinced there's a substantial number of beneficiaries who (a) cherish the security Medicare provides but (b) support what I would regard as "progressive" reforms. If I'm right, it's important for politicians to know it. Since I'm part of the Medicare generation, I'll generally refer to "we" and "us."
...who believe that health care should be guided by patients' values: I expect to write a lot on the new blog about the multitude of ways in which we physicians all-too-often guide ourselves by our perspectives rather than by those of our patients, in accord with the old saw that "the operation was a success, but unfortunately the patient died." 
...that the care system needs more compassion and less technology: While cynical politicians scared us with "death panel" lies during the health reform debate, our more enduring fear is of overtreatment - of having things done to us that we don't want. The health policy wonks among us have written tomes about how Medicare policies and reimbursement schemes give too much incentive for technological interventions and too little support for compassion and care
...and that Medicare costs should be constrained for the sake of future generations: I've almost never heard anything different than this from Medicare age folks I've spoken with. But with varying degrees of vehemence we add our overall views of economic justice - "I'll be damned if I want to see Medicare cut in order to finance tax breaks for hedge fund managers/waste federal money on XYZ programs/spend trillions on wars we shouldn't have started/etcetcetc.
I'm decidedly a Massachusetts liberal, but I think there's potential for folks with a wide range of political attitudes to support the advocacy voice I'm hoping to promote. The effort may fizzle and go nowhere, but I want to give it a shot!


California Medicare said...

That was so well written. I do agree with you on most aspect. Our healthcare system do need more compassion but I do believe that technology should also be a good part of it such as in the case of the health IT which can facilitate better and faster and more accurate treatment for patients.

Jim Sabin said...

Dear California Medicare -

Thank you for the kind words. I certainly agree that IT is crucial for coordination of care, avoidance of duplication, and just-in-time smart reminders about treatment guidelines.