October 2019 President’s Message

October 2019 President’s Message

Leaders, including physicians, need to find solutions together

by Michael Lievens, MD

It seems to me that there are more articles published lately (on numerous platforms such as KevinMD, Doximetry and conventional media) about problems in America’s health care system. That’s because there are many problems in our health care system.

Prior authorization, physician burnout, electronic health records, pharmacy benefit managers, and numerous other issues are of particular interest to physicians. Overall costs of all things medical is of interest to all of us, especially our patients.

What strikes me as alarming, however, is who we are not hearing discuss the problems in our health care system: our elected officials.

The reality TV show that Washington, DC, politics has become is sickening. With all of the latest craziness, it seems to me the people who have been elected to work on the problems our nation faces spend most of their time talking about how the “other side” is wrong in its beliefs/morals/values/opinions.

Neither side is innocent. Both sides are acting like 12-year-old children (please forgive me for insulting 12-year-olds). I seriously doubt any of the important issues will get addressed in any meaningful way before the next election.

In the past two years of my involvement in MSSC leadership, I have gone to Washington and met with Kansas’ representatives, senators, and staff. Each time, I was impressed with their intelligence, hard work and dedication.

But they all seemed to know that not much was going to get done this election cycle, and their pragmatic staff members openly spoke about it. Much of the reason was the sharp divide between parties, their policies and our people.

During the recent Democratic presidential candidates’ debate, Mayor Pete Buttigieg said he thinks we are going to be more divided after this next election than we are now. I think he is right, and it is scary.

This makes me doubt that any meaningful progress will be made in tackling these issues in the next presidential term, whoever is sitting in the Oval Office, and regardless of whether that person campaigned on the issue. Pretty depressing stuff.

The problems in our health care system are enormous. I really wonder if the government is even capable of solving them. But like any problem, the solution often starts out small. Untying a difficult knot always involves patiently trying every string in the knot, and slowly working away at it.

None of us can solve the big problems facing the nation. But we can help solve smaller, local problems, and it is perhaps our duty to try.

I also believe that physicians, as some of the most educated members of any community, have an obligation to be decent people, and to strive to perhaps a higher moral standard. We must get along with people of all types, and work for them and for their best interests, at least from a health standpoint.

I hope our elected officials will do the same. They need to get along with members of both parties. In fact, they need to have good friendships on both sides of the aisle.

Militantly standing only with like-minded members of the House and Senate is not going to solve anything. We need the leaders in our government to get along with each other, even those they disagree with on any given issue. I urge all of us to consider this when voting.

Upcoming event — On another subject, if you missed the Oct. 1 general membership meeting at Botanica, you missed a good one. It was designed to honor our international medical graduates, and gave us all a sense of the diversity of our medical community. The feedback we have received has been very positive. Please try to attend the last general membership meeting of 2019 on Dec. 3 at Brick and Mortar, the event venue near Intrust Bank Arena — and make an effort to get to know someone who might see the world differently.