a community newspaper serving western Albemarle County

Crozet Annals of Medicine: Dear Santa

By Dr. Robert C. Reiser, M.D.

Dear Santa,

I know you keep a list of those who are naughty and those who are nice, and I was hoping I could help make sure your lists were up to date on the medical professions. I am not expecting any extra special presents in return for this help, but if you wanted to finally come through on that pony, well, I guess that would be okay, too.

Naughty: Texas Governor Rick Perry for refusing to accept the federal funds Obamacare is offering to insure more poor people under Medicaid. An unconscionable 24 percent of Texans or one in four residents lack any health insurance, the highest proportion in the nation. Virginia, at 14 percent, is expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

Also, the Florida, South Carolina, and Louisiana Governors join that list for the same reasons. I would suggest you give them lumps of coal but I am afraid they might interpret that as a nifty source of energy and a sign that global warming isn’t real.

Nice: The Supreme Court for upholding the Affordable Care Act. It is good to provide health care insurance to as many US citizens as possible. I know it wasn’t really Constitutional and all that, but believing that a mandate is the same as a tax is no more far-fetched than believing that one man could deliver presents to every child on earth in one night. Even Fed Ex couldn’t quite do that.

Naughty: The Virginia state legislature for trying to force invasive medical procedures on women (transvaginal ultrasounds) without any medical understanding of the procedure. No coal for them either; we get plenty from West Virginia. How about a free probe of their own?

Nice: The Charlottesville Free Clinic for providing, well, free health care to our area’s working poor. Partnering with Martha Jefferson and UVA equally for labs and x-rays and with local specialty physicians for specialty referrals, it is truly a remarkable resource. Send some sugarplum fairies their way.

Naughty: The New England Compounding Center executives. NECC is the pharmaceutical company that illegally produced the steroid injections that have sickened hundreds and killed dozens this year in an outbreak of fungal meningitis. NECC was warned by the FDA back in 2006 that their manufacturing was illegal due to lack of adherence to safety regulations, but the FDA never followed up.  No need to give them a lump of coal. It will be of no use to them in jail where they belong.

Nice: India, which has finally, with the help of global health resources, rid itself of polio this year. Only three countries in the world remain as sources of polio, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria. With the proper political will we could eradicate this dreaded disease forever, as we did with smallpox in 1979. My colleague and fellow columnist Amita Sudhir assures me they celebrate Christmas in India after a fashion, so maybe you could send them some chocolate elephants.

Naughty: Florida Governor Rick Scott for attempting to prevent doctors from talking to their patients about gun safety and storage by criminalizing such speech. Dubbed the Docs and Glocks law, it was passed by the Florida legislature last year and signed into law by Governor Scott. This blatant violation of the First Amendment was quickly struck down by a federal judge but the shoot from the hip Governor has appealed the ruling and still wants to jail doctors for suggesting to parents of small children that it might be a good idea to lock up the glocks. Sheesh! Since the Governor has now made the list twice, Santa, I think you should give him a trip as a very special present. Since he seems to think more weapons are a good idea and more health care is not, perhaps a governmental junket to a region more in line with his priorities is due. How does Afghanistan sound? Lots of guns, not so much health care. He could look into the polio thing while he is there.

But, it is the Christmas season, so I should end on a hopeful note.

Nice: All of the amazing and multitudinous volunteers in the Crozet community. From the firemen to the ambulance workers, the Lions and Ruritans, the Peachtree baseball coaches and staff, the Crozet Gators helpers, the Green Olive Tree staff, the Build Crozet Library fundraising committee, the Crozet Community Association and too many others to list. Send them something extra nice this year, Santa. How about a white Christmas?

Peace on earth.

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