Healthcare Through Hippocrates

“Into whatsoever houses I enter, I will enter to help the sick, and I will abstain from all intentional wrong-doing and harm, especially from abusing the bodies of man or woman, bond or free”.  From a modern version of the Hippocratic Oath.

A hallmark achievement of Obamacare (ACA), recognized by advocates and detractors alike, the law provided 20 million previously uninsured Americans much needed healthcare coverage.  With a simple majority vote, Senate Republicans can basically repeal Obamacare, in so doing eliminating all accompanying progress.  According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), 22 million people will lose coverage by 2026, saving the federal government $320 billion in the process.  For context, imagine the entire state of Florida uninsured, as for the dollar figure, $240 billion was spent fighting the war on terror in 2008 alone.

“I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.” Modern Hippocratic Oath

Presumably, democracies function on core principles which are periodically examined, and if necessary, amended to improve both functionality and equality within a given society.  Recognizing legislative successes of Obamacare, increased insurance access for one, as well as failures, private insurers withdrawing from the marketplace or lack of cost containment are critical to improving healthcare policy for all Americans.  Rather than eliminating any and all advances of Obamacare, a healthier, more practical approach would be to build and improve upon them.

“I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure” Modern Oath

Indisputable amongst legislatures and private citizens, costs for drugs, medical procedures as well as insurance premiums, copayments and deductibles are increasing.  Legislation must now focus on these issues.  Mandating insurance providers to pay for yearly well visits is a good start, enabling Medicare to negotiate drug prices, creating price transparency, financing high risk pools, amongst other initiatives, should further improve upon existing policy.

“I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.” Modern Oath

Often misquoted from the original Hippocratic Oath, the saying “First, do no harm”, ought to serve not merely as a synopsis for medical practice, but as a basis for governance.  Legislators are, in fact, members of society, holding power and pronouncements which directly impact millions of Americans.  President Trump referred to the original House version of his party’s healthcare bill as “mean” and asked the senate to make “a bill with heart”.  Reading, and more importantly, following the Hippocratic Oath, can help them in doing so.

“I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.” Modern Oath.

Dr. Bashar Salame is an award winning author and healthcare provider in private practice for fifteen years. Read other articles by Bashar.