So I’m on vacation in New Jersey and I find myself in need of a doctor. Nothing serious, just need some antibiotics. I’m looking at a fifteen hour flight back to Abu Dhabi in a few days, and I don’t want to be discomfy.
Okay. I find the Long Beach Island Medical Center, they can take me at 10:45, great fine good, they don’t take my insurance, okay, that’s a drag, but I gotta gets me some antibiotics so I’ll pay out of pocket and hope the insurance gods will decide to reimburse me.
I fill out all the forms and when I turn them in, I notice this flyer on the counter:
I think to myself “self, someone here isn’t an Obamafan,” and I wonder why having the government involved in medical practice is dangerous (I hate all those regulations about doctors being licensed and crap, don’t you?) but I figure, hey it’s just a flyer, I don’t have to pick it up if I don’t want to, and remind myself that the separation of church and state doesn’t include doctors.
I’m ushered into the exam room, where I am asked most of the questions that I’ve just answered on the forms. Then I sit, and sit, and sit. And sit some more. I sit so long I wonder if I’ve been wafted into one of those countries with horrifying socialized medicine, you know, those places we hear about when we’re told what would happen if we had universal healthcare?
Dr. Clancy comes in just as I’m about to walk down the hall to the receptionist to ask how much longer it will be (it’s been a good 45 minutes in the exam room). I apologize (why am I apologizing? I was on time) and say that I have to pick up my kids at 12 and it’s already 11: 30.
He says, smiling, “if we’re running late, you can blame the President.”
I think for a minute he’s making a really weird joke but he’s not.
He fumbles at the computer on his desk and says, “yep, that Obamacare, we now come in early, leave late, and have to close for an hour at lunch. The girls say it’s added about 100 minutes to their day.” He stares at the computer, mutters, taps in a password, then says “yep, okay, got it.” I see my name come up on the screen. Once he’d figured out how to work that there computer thingy, he was off to the races. In between listening to my lungs, tapping my back, and taking my blood pressure, he never stopped talking.
“It’s these Electronic Records, we didn’t want to do it, you know, it’s an invasion of privacy, but they make us. Every day you don’t sign on to do the records, they fine you. I ordered a copy of the thing from the government, you know, Obamacare, it’s a big thick thing and dense! I couldn’t get through the first five pages, but it’s everywhere, they charge 1% on every transaction now, and 2 1/2% on student loans, and everywhere, because they’ve got to pay for that Obamacare somehow.”
People, I had a crisis in my head. Do I try and reason with this guy? Do I say “dude, every civilized country on the planet is ahead of us in terms of health care, and frankly, so are some of the uncivilized ones, so what the hell is your problem?” Or “hey, shut the fuck up and do your job?” Or perhaps the more polite “I’m a little uncomfortable here because I disagree with pretty much every word coming out of your mouth.” Or do I try and sympathize with old Dr. Clancy, who is perhaps having difficulty with a President who is, you know black, not to mention went-to-Harvard, not to mention never-strapped-his-dog-to-the-roof-of-his-car?
But weighing against all these possible responses: I need antibiotics.
He took a breath, tapped another key, and said “you’re all set.”
I kept my mouth shut, paid my bill, collected my prescription, popped my pills. So on the one hand, I feel better.
And on the other hand? I’m furious. At myself for keeping my mouth shut (drugs! I needed drugs! it’s not my fault) and at the doctor’s abuse of his position. Long Beach Island is a pretty conservative place (let’s just say I have an overwhelming urge in the grocery store parking lot, sometimes, to creep around and peel off the “Fire Pelosi” and “RRRRRRRomney” bumper stickers), but even so, does that give this doctor the right to rant at me as I sit in his office just waiting for my stupid prescription?
Plus his tirade makes me wonder. Even after the Akins fiasco, and Mitt’s EuroGaffe Tour, and Paul Ryan the lipless wonder dog’s sad-eyed performance as Ayn Rand’s altar boy (click here for why Ryan gets Rand rong), people are still going to vote their fear and either vote for the RightwingwRong Ticket or stay home. That means you can kiss a balanced Supreme Court good-bye; you can kiss women’s rights good-bye; you can kiss … well, you can pretty much kiss the second half of the twentieth century good-bye.
Long Beach Island. Its beaches are wonderful, the pace delightful. Just don’t get sick.