Dr. Rebekah Bernad knows from firsthand exposure how government-run health care makes doctors miserable.
And when doctors are miserable, patients suffer. (Foundation for Economic Education)
In my medical training, a fellow physician tried to convince me that my liberal leanings on health care were misguided. While I firmly believed that the government had an important role in providing access to medical care—particularly to the underserved—my colleague argued that the government’s role in, well, anything, should be practically nonexistent.
I remained firm in my conviction. After all, I grew up in a rural area where many residents, including my own family, received their health care from county health departments and government clinics. My lifelong dream was to become a physician and one day join one of these agencies to provide health care to needy patients. The best way to do that, it seemed to me, was to work in a clinic created for that very purpose—a Federally Qualified Health Center.
And so, just a few weeks after taking my Family Medicine board exam, I headed off to my new job at a well-established health clinic in rural America, where my education on the role of government in health care began.
While federally qualified health centers are not exactly government-run, they are heavily subsidized by government grants and payments. These systems receive significantly higher Medicare and Medicaid payments than other clinics, especially when they are in rural areas. In exchange for federal funding, clinics must follow the government’s rules and protocols to the letter.