WASHINGTON -- President Obama has been a fierce and relentless critic of America's medical-care system. Indeed, it's hard to recall when, if ever, he has had anything good to say about our private healthcare system.
Throughout his presidential campaign and the first six months of his presidency, he has made a practice of attacking just about every sector of the healthcare business: Hospitals are inefficient, wasteful and inept. Insurance companies charge way too much and make obscene profits. The pharmaceutical industry overcharges for the drugs they produce, despite research costs in the hundreds of billions of dollars and millions of lives prolonged and saved.
His generic mantra is that our healthcare system is dysfunctional and that, despite all the modern medical tests and high-tech diagnostic breakthroughs, we're not any healthier than we were before.
Really? Has Obama missed the medical revolution that our healthcare system has undergone in recent decades? The wonder drugs that keep Americans alive and active; the less invasive microsurgery that shortens hospital stays, cuts costs and hastens recovery; the new PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scans that spot cancers early enough to save lives; and the multiplicity of health-insurance plans for a wide variety of incomes.
How is it that Obama, who is not a doctor, can have such a dismal and critical view of America's healthcare system that is so sharply at odds with how our medical leaders see the present system?
Here's how three former American Medical Association presidents (Drs. Daniel H. Johnson Jr., Donald J. Palmisano and William G. Plested III) described America's health care last week in an article in The Washington Times: "We have the best health care system in the world. Most Americans live within an hour's drive of a world-class medical facility filled with expertly trained individuals and state-of-the-art technology delivering medical miracles every day."
Indeed, despite whatever imperfections and problems there are in our healthcare system, there is much more to celebrate than to criticize. More than 250 million Americans have health insurance, and every poll shows the overwhelming majority of them are satisfied with the coverage they have and the medical care they receive.
The medical advances over the past several decades have been historic. Consider heart-bypass techniques, the growing transplant technology and the anti-cholesterol, anti-stroke and anti-cancer drugs that have lengthened survivability rates.