Where Are They?: Thousands On The Mall, Millions Of Illegal Voters, Millions Of Patient Care Dollars

Where Are They?: Thousands On The Mall, Millions Of Illegal Voters, Millions Of Patient Care Dollars


Leonard Zwelling

No wonder Trump likes the Russians. He is a firm believer in the big lie, a tried and true method employed by the old Soviet Union and dictatorships far and wide. (See another fine piece by Nicholas Fandos in the NY Times, above).

Mr. Trump insists that there were more people on the National Mall during his Inauguration than was the case during the ceremony for Barack Obama in 2009. Common sense tells you that that is unlikely. Washington, DC, in which the National Mall happens to sit, is the location of a major black population force that mobilized to celebrate the Inauguration of the first African-American President in our history. The African-American community of Washington, DC was not similarly moved to attend the swearing in of Donald Trump. The pictures don’t lie. There were more people on the Mall in 2009 than in 2017. As Sean Spicer might say—period!

Now the new President is asserting that three to five million people voted who shouldn’t have, some of whom were dead, and that he wants to launch an investigation of voter irregularity and fraud during the 2016 election. This is despite the fact that all of the Secretaries of State of the individual states swear that nothing of the kind occurred. Nonetheless, I am sure tax payer money will be used for this silly investigation by the winner (!) and I am equally sure that massive fraud will be unearthed by the Trumpites as they fan across the nation looking under every bed for illegal immigrant voters and those who voted using the registration of the deceased. Not. What a waste!

As was the case with the thousands Mr. Trump incorrectly claimed were on the National Mall, he will be lucky to find one hundred people who voted but should not have. Now, he can find millions who didn’t vote, but should have, but that’s another story that no one can dispute, least of all Hillary Clinton.

My third example of delusional score keeping is closer to home. To my calculations, through the first third of fiscal 2017, MD Anderson is $170 M in the red. Both in comments to the news media and in testimony during the confirmation hearing for Congressman Tom Price to be the next Secretary of HHS before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, the recent layoffs at MD Anderson were blamed on EPIC. The electronic health record so crippled the ability of the patient care team to deliver cancer care in an expeditious fashion that the coffers ran dry. Almost one thousand people were laid off, lost to attrition or vacant slots went unfilled. This is supposed to save the institution $10M a month, which won’t be enough to offset the shortfalls generated by EPIC, putatively, which are averaging about $40M a month.

I don’t believe the crowd on the Mall was bigger in 2017 than in 2009.

I don’t believe that even a few thousand votes were cast illegally.

I don’t believe that EPIC can account for the entirety of the monumental budget shortfall at MD Anderson.

These are all alternative facts otherwise known as lies.

I am willing to accept the fact that EPIC incapacitated the ability of the clinicians to run a bit faster to keep up with the unbridled spending going on in the rest of the institution, but it’s not all EPIC. I am sure referrals are down and competition up. Payer mix may not be favorable. Billing for work done may not be accurate and coding may not be optimized. I have had trouble myself getting patients into Anderson and these were folks with insurance.

The leadership of Anderson needs to take a long hard look at its operations and expenses. How well is the clinic really running? Is the hospital really providing cutting edge care? If so, how does the leadership know that? Let’s see the data. Finally, how much of the patient care revenue is being funneled to non-patient care activities which must be trimmed back if the budget is going to be righted?

If Mr. Trump can have an investigation into non-existent voter fraud, then Dr. DePinho can have one into the budget shortfalls with faculty on the investigatory team and all results made transparent to the wider MD Anderson community.

If the entire community is involved and has a stake in the budget and more layoffs are possible, that’s the least Dr. DePinho could do.

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