Cartoons are appearing in newspapers depicting a very obese fellow happily smoking a cigar. He is drawn to represent hospitals and the waste in Medicare.
Hospitals are viewed by many in the public as the bad guys, taking advantage of government programs and not giving enough in return. Hospitals are also depicted as places where there are errors, leading to injuries to patients and sometimes death.
Couple this with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's implementation and you have hospitals surrounded by politics. Some states are refusing the federal government's offer of money for Medicaid expansion, causing more heartburn for hospitals who now pay for uninsured patients coming through the emergency department.
Yet we have dedicated physicians, nurses, techs, clerical workers and administrators working in hospitals and clinics daily to deal with flu patients and others with cardiovascular, orthopedic and a myriad of problems. We have some of the best medical equipment in the world and the best drugs.
What we do not have is a national system that ties everything together under a single standard. We do have the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services which keeps tab on the successes and failures of hospitals and other healthcare organizations. But we still have hospitals within systems with significant variation in operation and care.
What can we do? Email us with your suggestions.