About Stuart Andrews, M.D.
I have been a family practice physician since 1980. I am board-certified by the American Board of Family Practice. I have witnessed the decline of medicine as a profession over this time frame and have learned to understand it, at least at a gut level. This paper is an attempt to turn those visceral feelings into words, to clarify the current dissatisfaction with medicine for doctor and patient alike, and to offer solutions. I have seen many of my peers retire early or close their practices to new patients. More and more of the remaining viable medical enterprises are practicing assembly line medicine, where patients on metaphoric conveyer belts are “processed.” Most private practices have been taken over by hospitals or other large bureaucracies, where doctors punch a clock and do their time. Medicine is no longer a calling; it is simply a job.
As it happens, I also ran for the U.S. Congress as a Libertarian candidate in 2000. I received 3% of the vote, or the highest number of votes per dollar spent [zero] on campaigning in my district.
These experiences helped inform me regarding the mechanism of our health care decline and the limitations of socialism in general. I am not an insurer, politician, or attorney; I’m only a physician, with a relatively low-ranking in today’s medical foodchain. My testimony is experientially based, and – as a result – perhaps more to the point regarding how health care policy tinkering by elites affects behavior and outcomes at the ground level in terms of cost-effective quality care. We are experiencing a progressive decline in the number [per capita] of primary care physicians in this country. This could be construed as a de facto mini-Atlas Shrugged.*
*Atlas Shrugged, written in 1959, refers to Ayn Rand’s perennially best-selling novel, which depicts the mysterious, progressive disappearance of society’s most innovative and productive, resulting in economic collapse – despite laws to the contrary. No wealth was left to redistribute.