In our age, health care has become one of the most important issues to all citizens. It outranks most concerns for defense, transportation, and education. Imagine, if through some crystal ball, the founders of the country could have foreseen the new importance health care has assumed in our society. Perhaps we would have seen the creation of a special branch of government called the “Supreme Doctors”. This act would have recognized that medicine is so complicated that many years of specialized training are necessary to make intelligent government decisions about it.

The “Supreme Doctors” would be the highest medical authority in the land. Its members would be appointed for life by the President of the United States and chosen from outstanding members of the medical profession. The “Supreme Doctors” would have equal footing with the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. It would review all legislation for its public health impact. The nation’s health would always be placed as a top priority. Any action deemed detrimental to the health of the nation would simply be declared unconstitutional. The medical liability crisis would have never existed. The cigarette industry would have been closed down the day after the first Surgeon General’s report in 1964. Medical research would have been placed at top priority by total constitutional authority. Preventative vaccinations, seat belts, and health screenings would have all been mandated years sooner by the “Supreme Doctors”.

Every citizen of voting age would be subject to periodic calls for “medical duty”. People would be chosen at random to serve a one week stint working in an assigned hospital or clinic. People would be proud of this activity and consider it their civic duty. Any patient unable to pay for his own medical care would have a public physician appointed by agents of the “Supreme Doctors”. This public physician would enjoy complete control of the case and could use the full and unlimited resources of the United States government in delivering the necessary medical care.

Many things would be better under the control of the “Supreme Doctors” but other things could be less than ideal. The entire health care system would be tightly controlled by doctors who would supervise workers freely supplied by the government. Utilization review, managed care, HMO’s, and prior authorization might be terms that never existed.

There would be no alternative sources for health care. Everything, including the taking of a person’s blood pressure would be done under the direct supervision of a doctor. It would be a federal crime to deliver any form of health care product or advice without a doctors written endorsement.

Doctors would have complete authority over all medical licensing and professional discipline.  They would enjoy complete immunity for any medical opinion. Impeachment by a panel of physicians would be the only way to remove the “Supreme Doctors” from office. There would be a natural tendency to abuse power. There would be a strong temptation to make it illegal to publicly speak against another physician. Disgruntled patients could be prohibited by law from any negative comment about a disciplined physician.

Thoughts about this system are far fetched but don’t completely dismiss them. In the future, the health of our citizens could become so important to society that they will preferentially elect those with a background in medicine. Its sounds like science fiction now but in the future the legislature could be composed predominantly of doctors!

There’s no question the health of our nation has become paramount. The time of the “Supreme Doctors” may yet come.


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