Last week I attended a meeting in Washington D.C. and met Dr. Mark Neerhoff, a specialist in Maternal-Fetal Medicine. He has been politically active in opposing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). After he returned to Chicago he sent the following e-mail describing a conversation he had on the airplane. It is worth reading.
I returned home from DC to Chicago Tuesday evening. As I took my seat on my flight home, the person next to me cordially introduced himself as Arsalan, an international human rights attorney, and frequent contributor to NPR. I introduced myself as Mark, a delivery man (obstetrician) from Chicago. I commented that airline service seems to be deteriorating by the day (they charged me $75 dollars to change flights, the flight was late, and I had to check my bag). He responded, “Tell me about it, imagine what it is like to travel as a 6’4” middle eastern appearing guy – talk about profiling.” I didn’t really want to get into that, but I advised him to do what I do – don’t put your clothes on until you clear security – it advances the agenda. He liked the idea.
He then asked me why I was in DC. I told him about D4PC and our mission. He then informed me that he was a supporter of ACA, and had actually been on a panel on NPR debating the issue several times on NPR – that is when the fun began. Let’s just say the discussion was animated. I have to say that was the quickest flight I have ever experienced. The people in the 3 or 4 rows around us had no choice but to be drawn into the conversation. Please allow me to relay a few highlights of our discussion.
He began by asking me why I opposed the ACA. I referred to it as Obamacare, and he responded by saying that was a politically loaded term, and how would I feel if he called it Romneycare in Massachusetts. I said please do, because that is how I refer to it all the time, and it was and is a failure. I also pointed out that Obama also now refers to it as Obamacare, and if it was a smashing success, they would love it if we referred to it as Obamacare. I then asked him what were the 2 primary goals of Obamacare. He had no idea. I reminded him that they were: 1. To provide universal coverage, and 2. To decrease the cost of healthcare. On both counts, Obamacare is an abject failure right out of the box (You all know the facts, I don’t think he appreciated my use of the term failure, but I will not stop using it. Sometimes, the truth hurts).
He then said rather derisively, “I suppose you are a supporter of the Ryan vouchers.” I said I believe a better term is premium support. He insisted on vouchers, and I granted him the term. He then said something revealing. He asked, “What are people supposed to do when the run out of vouchers? What do they do when they have used up their vouchers and they still have bills to pay?” I then asked him what he understands the voucher plan to be, and he explained that vouchers to him suggested a cash analogy to pay for healthcare, and when you run out of cash, you run out of healthcare. Here is someone that has debated the subject on national radio, and had no idea what the opposition was proposing.
He then went on to claim that the primary problem is that physicians make too much money, and that he suspected that the reason that physicians oppose ACA is that they want to protect their income. (His wife graduated from medical school and is pursuing a degree in education, and his father is a physician, and his father, per his account, makes the outrageous salary of $160,000 as an orthopedic surgeon). I then pointed out to him that even if we eliminated physicians salaries altogether (physician salaries make up less than 10% of health care costs in the US) and made physicians slaves (which seemed to pierce him as a human rights attorney), we still would not come close to solving the problem with healthcare costs in the US.
He then went on to say that Republicans seem to think that the solution to all of our problems is cutting taxes, and that if we really want to solve our debt crisis, we need to drastically cut defense spending. He noted that he has several friends who bill the defense department $300/hour for their services and computer programmers and have produced nothing (he seemed to have a real problem with salaries). I then pointed out that even if we cut our budget for defense in half (not a wise move in these perilous time) we would still be left with over a trillion dollar deficit each year. He had no answer.
He then caught me in a “lie.” We were talking about the uninsured, and I claimed that 15 million of the uninsured were illegal aliens. He jumped all over me, because the estimates (he claims) range from 8 to 12 million, and 12 is a 20% reduction from 15. I reminded him of that troublesome word, “estimates,” and that neither he nor I actually have any idea what that number actually is.
When I arrived at home, I Googled him. His last name is Iftikhar. Turns out that he has a web site titled TheMuslimGuy.com, he has authored a book titled “Islamic Pacifism: Global Muslims in the Post-Osama Era.” He is also a spokesman for CAIR. This discussion occurred on the eve of the raids on our embassies in the Middle East, evidence of the abject failure of Obama’s foreign policy.
I share this story with the hopes that it may be edifying to you. You do not need to reply unless you want to.
I would like you to know that I am honored to be associated with each and every one of you. I pray that we will keep fighting for our patients until we have won for the cause of liberty.
In the fight of our lives, We still hold these truths,