One Doctor Says “Enough Is Enough”

In the Wall Street Journal, Daniel F. Craviotto Jr., an orthopedic surgeon, writes eloquently about the government’s increasing intervention in the practice of medicine. He illustrates some of the ways (though there are many more) by which the government has come to increasingly control doctors’ time, efforts and income — i.e., their lives.

Dr. Craviotto concludes:

I am tired — tired of the mandates, tired of outside interference, tired of anything that unnecessarily interferes with the way I practice medicine. No other profession would put up with this kind of scrutiny and coercion from outside forces. The legal profession would not. The labor unions would not.

He implores his fellow physicians:

So when do we say damn the mandates and requirements from bureaucrats who are not in the healing profession? When do we stand up and say we are not going to take it any more? . . . Now is the time for physicians to say enough is enough.

I applaud Dr. Craviotto’s efforts to take a stand against growing government control of his livelihood.

Health care debates today focus exclusively on how the government should distribute medical care, not whether government should be controlling the industry in the first place. But this focus entirely ignores who produces that care: doctors. The result is that doctors are treated as resources — that is, as means to an end, not as individuals who have the right to conduct business on their own terms. Dr. Craviotto’s op-ed provides an example of what this treatment looks like in practice.

A major reason why doctors are ignored is that doctors themselves are hesitant to assert their right to practice medicine as they see fit. Dr. Craviotto doesn’t put his opposition to government control of his profession in those terms, but that’s the logical foundation of his position: doctors have the right to practice medicine as they choose, and everyone else has the right to accept their services or not.

As Ayn Rand writes in “How Not To Fight Against Socialized Medicine”:

The pursuit of his own productive career is — and, morally, should be — the primary goal of a doctor’s work, as it is the primary goal of any self-respecting, productive man. But there is no clash of interests among rational men in a free society and there is no clash of interests between doctors and patients. In pursuing his own career, a doctor does have to do his best for the welfare of his patients. This relationship, however, cannot be reversed: one cannot sacrifice the doctor’s interests, desires and freedom to whatever the patients (or their politicians) might deem to be their own “welfare.”

It’s great — and unfortunately rare — to see any doctor standing up for himself against government dictates. If more doctors felt as morally confident as Dr. Craviotto, their situation might start to change.