My first blog from the
New World of the non-profit sector. More to come if you continue to read.  Thanks to all who have and will.

A Gruntled Shutdown


Leonard Zwelling

            One of the
major themes of this blog has been the unsettling parallels between events on
Capitol Hill and events on Holcombe Boulevard.

Now, along comes a government
shutdown as the disgruntled Republicans in the House who believe they were sent
to Washington to unmake the government, insist on defunding ObamaCare. This may
seem knuckleheaded on many levels, but it has been effective if the goal is to
end government, as it appears to be for a small minority of House Republicans
(with some help from Senator Carnival Cruz). Surely there can be no comparisons
between the government shutdown and MD Anderson. Right? But……

examine just how ridiculous it is for the small group of Republicans to hold
the country hostage until they can stop the appropriation of money to roll out
a law that has been passed and found constitutional by the Supreme Court. This
law is the centerpiece of the entire Obama presidency making a presidential veto
of any bill defunding the ACA guaranteed until January 20, 2017. (Remember, if
the money was not “appropriated” at the time the law was passed or “authorized”,
the money can be held back which is what the Tea Party is advocating).

ObamaCare (meaning insurance availability regardless of pre-existing
conditions, individual and employer mandates, exchanges to allow comparison
shopping in the private insurance market and subsidies so that the poor can get
health insurance) is a Republican idea.

Republicans claim to want to preserve markets and ObamaCare preserves the
private insurance market and fee-for-service medicine and the private practice of

            Third, it
was first passed and implemented by a Republican governor (Romney) and it is
moderately successful in Massachusetts.

surely Republicans can understand that there had to be reform in health care as
the country was becoming globally non-competitive because of the accelerating
costs of health care built into our products while the common measures of
health actually had America toward the bottom of the list of industrialized nations in
population wellness despite all that spending.

            Given these
issues, ObamaCare would seem to be the lesser of all evils to true Republicans.
I guess not.

the Tea Party will be holding its collective breath until it turns blue (or is
that Red?). This all may get worse when the debt ceiling limits are debated.
This is a poorly named issue for it is not about limits to borrowing money
going forward but rather about paying debts America has already incurred. We
swiped the credit card. We still need to write the check. And if you think this
doesn’t affect you, consider what will happen to the stock market, MD
Anderson’s portfolio and your retirement funds should we threaten to not pay
our bills.

perhaps the faculty at Anderson should consider taking a page from the Tea
Party playbook and shut down the clinics until the docs get what they want.
This is more than feasible for it is done every week on Saturday and Sunday.
Just block out the templates, take PTO, and schedule no routine visits. I
guarantee it will get the President’s attention, not to mention Dr. Leach’s.
All you have to do is make sure all emergencies, in-patients and absolutely
requisite care are covered. Just like on Sunday.

            Now the
only thing left is to decide what you want.

            I have my
list, but it is no longer of consequence since I am gone. You all on the other
hand have to work there. What do you like? What don’t you like? And how do you
want to change it? Once you get that clearly articulated, ask for it. Then, if
you don’t get it, see above.

            I don’t
approve of a government shutdown as I believe it will be far more hurtful than
helpful. Ditto an MD Anderson shutdown. But the Tea Party Republicans mean
business and if they have to shut down the government to defund ObamaCare or
cut a deal for other things they want (e.g., the Keystone pipeline), they are
willing to do it.

            Are you
trying to tell me that Ted Cruz has more courage than any MD Anderson faculty
member? I hope not.

            I have
gotten emails calling me a disgruntled employee. Well, I am an employee no
longer and as for my degree of gruntledness, I am not really sure because I am
so happy with my new job. I believe I am telling it like it is with the blog, but I am sure I
am biased and may get things completely wrong. That’s for all of you to decide,
but whether you are disgruntled or gruntled, I suggest you consider the future
and how likely it is to be better than today for if MD Anderson was ever about
anything it was about a better future and right now, I don’t see it. 

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