Alex McRae Column

The doctor is (t)in

by Alex McRae

Four years, ago as the debate raged over a 2,700-page legislative abomination called Obamacare, few people — including every last member of Congress — had the time or desire to read the bill before it became law.

That wasn’t a problem, according to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who famously said, “We have to pass the bill so you can find out what’s in it.”

The bill passed. We’re finally finding out what’s in it. If you’ve ever looked at the bottom of an outhouse, you have a clue. The new law promised to insure everyone. It doesn’t. We were told insurance premiums would sink faster than the Titanic. Prices have soared. As for keeping your own doctor? Maybe. That is, if your doctor is still in business.

Once it was clear that Obamacare would make practicing medicine more burdensome and less lucrative, thousands of aspiring doctors dumped their medical school plans and followed the money, opening tattoo parlors and medical marijuana shops.

To offset the inevitable physician shortage, Obamacare officials proposed authorizing medical professionals without MD degrees —including physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners and pharmacists — to diagnose minor illness, write prescriptions and manage the treatment of some chronic diseases, including diabetes.

I hope it happens. I’d be thrilled to death to let my pharmacist Bobby Lee manage my diabetes. Especially after my last experience with a diabetic “specialist.”

Several years ago I was referred to a really good doctor who said if I took a snazzy new drug and tightened up on the diet I could quit stabbing myself with insulin three times a day.

It worked like a charm.

Then, a change in insurance coverage forced a change of doctors. And not for the better.

Among other things, diabetes causes problems with one’s extremities. Feet are especially troublesome. Any diabetes doc worth his diploma will check your feet to make sure they are still attached.

Not this one. As soon as my co-pay cleared the credit card machine, he sat me down and asked how I felt.


He asked if my blood sugar was under control.

“Pretty much.”

Near the end of my six-minute exam he asked if I had lost any feeling in my feet.

I wasn’t sure and said so.

Instead of actually examining my feet, Dr. Death said, “Let me ask you this ... if I stomped on your foot would you feel it?”

I wondered if he’d feel it if I kicked him in the crotch.

Instead of finding out, I left.

I’m now shopping for new doctors. Mother Hubbard’s cupboard had more choices. It’s not likely to get better soon.

That’s bad news for patients. But it may be good news for makers of the RP Vita robot, which was just approved for use in seven hospitals in the U.S. and Mexico.

Robot doctors? In real life? Beam me up, dude.

When I think of robots I think of the gadget from “Lost in Space” who said, “Danger, danger, Will Robinson.”

Sounds about right.

“Danger” would be my initial reaction if saw the Tin Man coming toward me sporting a stethoscope and wearing a rubber glove.

The robo-doc allegedly allows doctors and patients to “interact” by using an iPad and a video screen. Hopefully, the screen will not be playing Chia Pet commercials between “interactions.”

But even if the robo-docs are kind, caring and competent, there are certain procedures I dislike when performed on me by a human. I don’t intend to let a robot lay hands on me, no matter how sick I am.

Besides, I once dropped a really good doctor because his cologne made me nauseous.

I’m certainly not going to tolerate one that smells like WD-40.


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