Published Monday, February 18, 2013
By ALEX McRae
Whether you’re talking music, fashion or psychotherapy for pets, California has always been America’s trendsetter. They’re at it again. And this latest trend is a matter of life and death.
Even in the Golden State, people get sick. And the supply of California doctors is not rising fast enough to meet the demands of the residents. Once Obamacare kicks in, things will get even worse.
“We’re going to be mandating that every single person in this state has insurance,” said state Sen. Ed Hernandez, chairman of the Senate Health Committee. “What good is it if they are going to have a health insurance card but no access to doctors?”
Sounds serious, but far-sighted politicians came up with a groundbreaking California-style solution. Call it mellow medicine. Soon, California will soon allow people who aren’t doctors to treat the sick.
Like, awesome, dude.
Don’t panic. Witch doctors are not involved and the state does not (yet) plan to let Jiffy Lube technicians do proctology exams. California will simply allow medical professionals who are not MDs to get more involved in patient care.
Physician assistants and nurse practitioners would be allowed to diagnose and treat minor ailments like ringworm, rickets and diarrhea. Optometrists and pharmacists would manage and treat chronic ailments like diabetes or high blood pressure.
Change is always scary, but this approach doesn’t bother me a bit. I’ve already “been there, done that” right here in Georgia.
The last few times I wanted to see a doctor I was treated by a Nurse Practitioner. He did a good job and didn’t make me sicker, which is a major plus. But my last visit left me mildly concerned.
I was suffering from a vicious malfunction in the nose and throat area. The nearest specialist in my health plan is two counties away, so I saw my pal the NP.
He was kind and thorough. He didn’t have a clue what was wrong or what to do. Neither did the medical school student “helping out” that day.
I wasn’t concerned until my NP turned away and started searching through a dog-eared pamphlet that looked like the owner’s manual for my Snapper. Worse, his “helper” was Googling my symptoms on her iPhone.
They never figured out my problem, but were certain I didn’t have a brain tumor or rigor mortis.
Soon, things could be even worse in California.
Diana Dooley, secretary of the state’s Health and Human Services Agency, recently admitted that “expanding the role” of health care pros was among the options being considered.
“We’re going to have to provide care at lower levels,” Dooley said. “I think a lot of people are trained to do work that our licenses don’t allow them to.”
You can bet that once this trend takes hold in California, it’s headed your way in a hurry.
But I’ve always believed that what some see as problems, others see as opportunities. Including me. This one is solid gold.
I wouldn’t attempt major surgery until I finished my motorcycle engine repair course, but in some areas of the healing arts I have no equal. Plus, I’d work cheap.
Coming soon to a neighborhood near you: Alex’s Mobile Misery Clinic.
For 50 bucks, I’ll drive to your house, listen to you whine for 15 minutes and leave you with a renewed spirit and a complimentary five-pound bag of M&Ms.
You may not get well, but at least you’ll feel better while you’re sick. Pretty soon, that may be as good as it gets.
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