Merigian Studios


Do I Sound Harsh?

Do I Sound Harsh?

What an amazing week that passed. The most interesting aspect was that a large group of our country's citizens elected a new president who waged an inhuman campaign for several months as well as embracing a number of conservative ideological constructs. Of the people who voted, the election revealed an intensely divided country, one that exists with a split between those who do and those who do not tolerate differences in race, sexual orientation, religious convictions, the idea of what the role of women should be, job creation, the right to abortion and the right to quality healthcare for all Americans. As an American citizen, I have my own personal worldviews about all of these issues, most of them shaped by being reared in foster homes as a young child, and maturing through adolescence to a young adult while living in an all black inner city environment inside Detroit.

This United States of America is undergoing the same maturation process each and every one of our individual citizens endures throughout their personal lifetime. I see this country as a relatively young adolescent experiment in democracy that is undecided about its proper course, similar to most of the other economically and socially developed countries around the globe. It is as if our country is Percival looking for the Holy Grail, at a time when all other knights (countries) of the Round Table have failed to find the Grail to some degree or another. There is no proven road to the Grail as far as the collective goes, therefore each and every one of us must find our own way. The United States is a diverse country which means there will never be a unanimous agreement on the best path possible since each of us will consider our individual road to be the best road for everyone else, even if we never find the Grail.

As a physician, my greatest concern for the immediate future is healthcare. I decided to practice outside the insurance driven healthcare system after I left my practice in Emergency Medicine sixteen years ago. I foresaw a time when the physicians of our country would be nothing more than a group of sheep. We are there. But we are a rare breed of sheep, our egos are immense, so our flock has no synergy. It is as if each physician truly believes they are independent of each other, but as a whole they recognize that they have lost their true individual autonomy. With few exceptions, physicians all work for the man instead of their patients. In our medical community, there are no independent Cancer Centers. The last one, The Jones Clinic, joined the Baptist Cancer Center because of economic reasons. My patients who had the privilege of being treated at the Jones Clinic are disgusted at the way the Baptist Cancer Center conducts the business of cancer care. Each patient has commented that the Baptist industrial machine as emasculated the Cancer Center's physicians, they clearly have no say; patients believe that if they did have a say in the daily operations, the Baptist Center would operate similar to their previously owned independent centers.

The Memphis medical community is divided: Methodist or Baptist. Each faith-based-mega-heath care system has created their own primary and specialty groups. The physicians are following hospital based protocols for outpatient care. Each visit is timed. There is no room for additional patient care time, regardless of the complexity of the cases. The sad reality is that the reimbursement from insurance is driving the system's unfoldment.

The original Affordable Care Act was created with the idea that it would morph into something better after it was enacted. Most people believed that changes in the Act would make it more competitive and more patient centered. In order for that to occur, the US Government must get involved and stop this insurance driven madness. Medical illness should not be treated as an opportunity to destroy a patient's financial standing, just like we do not allow utility companies or gas stations to raise the prices of their commodities at will since these utilities have become instrumental in our lives. Utilities are heavily regulated otherwise in our capitalist world, the price of water coming to the tap would skyrocket in the summer or the price of natural gas would jump when winter sets in. Healthcare requires regulation to keep the CEOs of non-profit hospitals from earning four to six million dollars a year or more as well as the other high dollar administrators.

The compassion in healthcare is gone. Greed has replaced it in every aspect of medical care. It is up to our citizens to demand that compassion return and throw the greedy corporate raiders into the streets. The Affordable Care Act can be fixed. We all need to stand up and fight for our freedoms related to medical care, or our children and grandchildren will be treated worse than we are now.

Last month, Blue Cross Blue Shield dismissed over 113,000 Tennesseans off of their insurance plans because they just did not want to cover them anymore. Who cares what their reasons were, none of them were honest. I was a member of BCBS of TN since 2001. I was tossed and told to go to the government exchange for insurance. As it turns out, there is only one insurance company left on the exchange: Cigna. Every other medical insurance company has pulled out of Tennessee's exchange. At the inception of the Affordable Healthcare Act, medical insurance companies demanded that every citizen had to be insured for the Affordable Care Act to work, now these same medical insurance companies are just dumping thousands of members off of their plans. This kind of chicanery has to come to an end. Tennesseans as well as many other Americans are scrambling to find another plan before the year's end.

As an artist, I see the roll of art as a vehicle to inform the public. Music, narrative journalism, visual arts, film documentaries and every aspect of the creative energies we can muster collectively must begin to enlighten and reshape the direction of this country. It is not enough for wealthy musicians or actors and actresses to just take a side and endorse a candidate for Presidency. What good has that done ever? We need those artists and journalists in each of our neighborhoods to begin a grass roots operation, they need to become and lend their voice for social change. At the very least, start the dialogue.

I realize that there are many Americans that truly believe that a woman who has had an abortion should be punished, perhaps even put in prison. Donald Trump has said the same on public television. The same people allege that people stealing bread are sentenced to prison all the time and after a short pause they question emphatically; a woman who murders an unborn fetus should go scot free?. Those who have never had an abortion cannot even comprehend the impacts of that decision on a woman's life as long as she lives. I have patients who cry, desperate for comfort after having an abortion years earlier. Some women were forced to abort their child by man with whom they had sexual intercourse, others were forced to abort their child by their mother and/or father. Some make the decision alone in desperation. Should all of those people who coerced a frightened and insecure woman to have an abortion be put in jail too? Each woman I know who has lived through an abortion has lived in an emotional prison each and every day of their life. I am Pro-Choice and will remain so for the rest of my years. I will continue to comfort those who have had an abortion, give them grace, and I will not condemn them to hell. I have no respect for anyone who would condemn them to hell, regardless of their position in life. President of the United States included.

For those men and woman who are anti-abortionists and would condemn a woman to hell for having an abortion, let me pose this response. I have met some of you in my life, my worldview shaped by being a physician, an artist, a football player, a coach, a son, a father, a husband, a widower, a foster child, a search and rescue worker at the Pentagon on 9/11, a medical director of the Med's Emergency Services, a Methodist, a Presbyterian, an Apostolic Armenian Christian and a seeker of Truth. I am not sure what shaped your worldview other than some religious dogma that is more than two thousand years old. The cosmology of the Universe has changed significantly since our religious cannons were created. No one even knew bacteria existed, much less how to understand the complex functioning of our neocortex.

If someone believes that any form of interruption in the creation of life should be punished, perhaps even criminally charged, then those of you anti-abortionists who use any form of birth control should be sent to jail. If it is God's intent for sexual activity to be a Divine encounter solely and only to create life, then those of you who use any method of Birth Control (notice the word Birth), are guilty of murder. If you are unwilling to let fate take its course after you have had an intimate moment with someone you love and allegedly care for, then you should be punished for obstructing the possible creation of a life. Let's stop the sale of BCP and condoms. Put every man in jail who has had a vasectomy as well as every woman who has had their tubes tied or a hysterectomy for birth control. And let every minister who uses any device to prevent copulation from rendering a child turn him/herself in immediately. Those men and women who underwent voluntary sterilization to stop God's Divine Force, the Holy Spirit, from populating the world with more servants to perform God's good works should be put in prison as punishment for their indiscretions. That means you Mr. Preacher man.

Sound absurd? It is absurd. It's as absurd as telling me that they put people in jail for stealing bread as a justification for imprisoning women for having an abortion.

I call out all artists of this country to begin a movement to smite this Orwellian surge, to open the public's eyes to change and begin to enlighten those who are closed to novelty and the emergence of something better, anything better and more profound than what they experienced in their lives. At the very least, help them to realize that the 1960's will never magically appear again; No matter how much some seventy-one year-old billionaire says it will. You can't bring back the dead and you can't go back in time.

Furthermore I call all doctors, nurses and health professionals who provide frontline care to the infirm to rise up, take a stance against the tyranny of healthcare and all of its greed driven components: massive non-profit hospital systems, big pharma, drug stores and pharmacies, medical insurance companies, medical device companies, state insurance commissions, too big to fail hospitals and medical groups and the lobbyists who continue to promote the agendas of these self-indulgence organizations who hide behind a pseudo-mission to bring health and welfare to the public and all of our citizens.

Do I sound harsh? I am.


Posted by Amanda Sanders at 10:23 AM
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