You are sitting in a doctor's waiting room with eight other sick patients, and the nurse announces: The doctor will see all of you now -- at the same time. That's how the Boston Globe recently described shared visits that are being used to cope with the long waits now customary in Massachusetts.
Ted Kennedy and Barack Obama are planning that the new Democratic Congress' first order of business will be to extend the Massachusetts health-care mistake to all 50 states. Like other legislative rush-acts (i.e., the 2007 amnesty bill and the 2008 bailouts), details are currently withheld to avoid giving members of Congress and the public adequate time to analyze the bill before the vote is called.
If Kennedy succeeds in his goal of using the Massachusetts plan as a model for national health care, average Americans will no longer get immediate access to medical care. They will have the long waits and massive new taxpayer costs that the Massachusetts plan has produced.
Defending the practice of group visits, one doctor told the Boston Globe, "People came to me with similar complaints, and I had these canned speeches." The doctor does not ask the patients to take off their clothes in front of the group -- he makes do with less effective, fully clothed examinations.
The group session consists mostly of hearing other people's complaints, while the doctor dishes out advice in front of all the patients. Privacy and modesty are gone, but you can pick up the germs of the other sick patients in the room with you.
One doctor observed that "this is not the type of medical care anyone with a modicum of intelligence would want." Is this the change Obama promised?
At Holyoke Health Center in Boston, patients wait four months simply to get an appointment. This causes some patients to go to costly emergency rooms for routine visits.
While emergency rooms are handling routine matters and taking medical histories, people who need urgent attention wait in line. In parts of western Massachusetts, which is non-urban, like most of the United States, the wait has grown longer than one year just to get a physical.
The Massachusetts health-care plan is universal and mandatory. The Massachusetts plan also introduces other words into the health-care vocabulary, such as group diagnosis, long waits, rationing, forced taxes and high costs.
The Massachusetts plan forces people to buy insurance they do not want or need. Once they are compelled to pay for it, they naturally want something for their money, and that crowds out people who really need medical care.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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