Mark D. White
I thought the first two letters to the editor in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal were excellent, reinforcing a point made in my chapter from Accepting the Invisible Hand: Market-Based Approaches to Social-Economic Problems on markets, dignity, and health care (see this previous post):
Dr. Sally Satel helpfully describes some of the factors inhibiting compassion in the practice of medicine ("Physician, Humanize Thyself," Taste, Sept. 17). Apart from the question of whether compassion can be taught anywhere, let alone in a medical school, in the current environment of "managed care" and government micromanaged "best practices" there is not much hope for compassion with or without cloaking ceremonies. Compassion for one patient can consume the time needed for diagnosis of others. We may be lucky if we can make do with competence.
Whatever the Affordable Care Act delivers, it will not be compassionate medicine from a distant and indifferent government bureaucracy. We would all do well to invest as individuals in building our relationships with our own physicians to help us make personal medical decisions. Compassion in medicine is now effectively forbidden by law, at least until the bureaucrats approve a billing code for it.
Free Choice in Medicine
Newport Beach, Calif.
Humane, compassionate physicians may be the ideal but first I want competence. Next, I want my doctors to be zealous advocates resisting intrusions into our intimate and privileged relationship.
I am continually puzzled that liberals defend Roe v. Wade and the right to abortion yet ignore its foundational principle when it comes to supporting government-run health care. The abortion cases all rely on Justice William O. Douglas's discovery in Griswold v. Connecticut of those famous "penumbras, formed by emanations" from the Bill of Rights protecting privacy rights of married couples and the right of a woman to consult her physician about contraception.
Liberals have always said they want Uncle Sam to stay out of our bedrooms. Can't we agree that we don't want any third person—with or without a checkbook—in the examining room with our physicians, not the president, not Congress and not any bureaucrat?
Roger H. Leemis