“I don’t want the government messing around with my health care.” That’s the most reasonable of the rallying cries against health care reform legislation. Oddly enough, it frequently comes from those covered by Medicare, which is most curious. But yesterday I was thinking about government messing around with health care from a different point of view. In our community, as in many others, government already messes around with health care through the provision of emergency medical services.
More than half of our fire department personnel are paramedics fully trained to provide the best in on-the-scene emergency medical care. I thought about that yesterday because in our small city we had a lot of afternoon calls. Two were bee stings resulting in anaphylactic shock. A small child fell from a horse and was unconscious. Someone with a back problem could not move. Another had a heart attack. A motorcycle accident victim was badly torn up. Skilled paramedics treated each one of them at the scene. On top of that, we had number of transfers to larger hospitals in places like Seattle and Spokane. The department’s front line ambulances are go anywhere rigs fully equipped for everything up to, God forbid it, minor surgery. All the up front costs were paid for by taxpayers. Insurance will reimburse the city for a lot of it, but not all.
I suppose we could get government out of messing with our medical care and go back to the days when I was young. Then I was among the first responders with nothing more than basic first-aid, and the privately owned ambulance was just a white hearse whose driver didn’t know any more than I did.