Monday, May 25, 2015
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Inside Washington

What happens in the halls of national government – for better or for worse – can dictate the future course of America. Along with your fellow Prayer Team members, you are to be constantly and fervently interceding for all the men and women who serve in Congress, for your military leaders in the Pentagon, and for the President of the United States, his cabinet and administration.

“Inside Washington” will equip you to do just that … with reports on the nation’s leaders and the decisions they’re considering … or have already made. We’ll examine the implications for the nation, and call you to specific prayer for those needs.

Emergency Rooms Face Great Expectations

Inside Washington

Hospitals, doctors, patients, Obamacare…and some perspective

By Nikolas Grosfield

Major national newspapers tend to avoid repeating their own headlines. But the widest-read daily in the country, USA Today, nearly duplicated itself eleven months apart.

On June 8, 2014, an article appeared entitled “More patients flocking to ERs under Obamacare.” Then two weeks ago, USA Today ran this article as well: “Contrary to goals, ER visits rise under Obamacare.” Both stories cited American College of Emergency Physicians polls of Emergency Room doctors.

A simple Google search—ER visits and Obamacare—shows nine of the top ten results saying the same thing during the past year. Most of the sources are leading news sites, and at least two—the Huffington Post and CNBC—are often sympathetic toward President Obama.

Only CBS gave a positive spin on the issue, saying 19-25-year-olds have made fewer emergency room visits since the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) came into effect in January 2014. Young adults, however, probably need less medical care than most other age groups in America.

Discernment of the press is always prudent—especially for far right or far left sources. But if the above stories are correct, then two new problems have entered the American healthcare system.

First, hospitals are unprepared for more ER visits in terms of space and equipment. Many doctors also complain of staffing shortages or too few primary care facilities and physicians—which help reduce the number of ER trips. And finally, patients themselves have to wait longer at the ER.

Second, Affordable Care Act supporters had promised it would give relief to emergency rooms. But while the law led to health insurance for more people—some of whom began seeking more medical care—it failed to create more facilities or jobs to care for those people.

The industry hopes to adapt—one hospital converted a waiting room into more exam rooms, and others are more proactively following up with their patients in hopes of averting future ER visits. Still, USA Today cites most doctors as saying their departments are unprepared for higher patient volume, which will likely continue to increase in the coming few years.

Many healthcare issues predate the Affordable Care Act. So blaming it while you sit in a waiting room is unhelpful at best and inaccurate at worst. But lauding it for a quick hospital trip may not reflect reality either. Besides, the ER is only one barometer by which one can assess the medical industry—or even Obamacare. If nothing else, some physicians and medical centers are better—or had better days today—than others.

Still, as Washington and the country continue to debate Obamacare, a few quotes from American history might be helpful to keep in mind. If these appear automatically to undermine Obamacare, consider carefully what you might do instead to satisfy the whims of a majority of an ambivalent population—given all the pressures and limitations that face every American president:

“The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God…And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, 1961

“A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.” President Gerald Ford, 1974

“I do not believe that the power and duty of the general government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering…A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and duty should, I think, be steadfastly resisted, to the end that the lesson should be constantly enforced that though the people support the government the government should not support the people. The friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied upon to relieve their fellow-citizens in misfortune…Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood.” President Grover Cleveland refusing to send aid to the people affected by a huge drought in Texas in 1887. He was right: after he vetoed the bill, private citizens sent ten times more money to those people than the government had proposed.

Finally, to those who do not expect to govern the nation someday, ponder praying about how you can help your neighbors who suffer from illnesses or injuries. Some of them might not be getting the healthcare they need—and it simply may not matter who or what is to blame.

Please pray:

Nikolas Grosfield is a writer and rancher from Montana. He has written 130 articles for various media sources, dwelt five years in the Middle East and East Africa, and earned a B.A. in History from Cedarville University. Nik is a child of God, Elsbeth’s husband, and Ole’s daddy.

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