The name of the conference is "Putting Patients First."  So how can we have the audacity to say that we stand for patients without having patients on the panel?  Aren't we just going to beat the drum of our own self-interest but do it in the guise of speaking on the behalf of the patient? The danger is there.

I won't pretend that I don't have some selfish reasons to enter the healthcare debate.  I make my living off the system and a seriously flawed plan could significantly decrease my income.  I don't want to earn less.  Is that selfish?  Of course it is!

So to make sure that I don't go too far in that direction and so that I don't have mistaken ideas of the patients' perspectives, I want to open the floor for discussion.  I want to hear from patients, doctors, patient advocates, economists, llamas, mascots, and anyone else with opinions on the subject.  I will only say what I believe, but I am very open to change what I believe, understanding that what I think is based on my own limited experience.

I am very happy that folks like Duncan Cross will be at the conference and e-Patient Dave and others are wanting to contribute their opinion (this post stemmed from a Twitter conversation with Dave and others).  This is what keeps us honest.  I do intend on representing patients and feel that I have a lot to contribute on this issue.  I see thousands of people each month and have a wide range of experience with people's problems with our system.  I really get angry when I see suffering as a result of the stupidity of our system; I have enough to deal with from the usual causes of suffering.  Our system is supposed to make things better, but it often does the opposite.

If you want to know where I come from, you can read the following:

  • Contrary to what you may hear, Medicare is highly flawed.  Dear Mr. President, Medicare Stinks
  • Healthcare is about doctor-patient interaction.  The system must maximize this.  The Oncoming Train.
  • Uninsured patients are a huge problem.  The UninsuredSince You Asked, The Uninsurable (3-Part)
  • We need to stop paying for what doesn't work.  Evidence
  • Not paying for unproven and/or ineffective treatments does not equal rationing.  Rationing
  • The current system makes docs decide between good care of patients and a better income.  All of us have compromised on this, and most of us feel very uncomfortable with that fact.  Temptation
  • The lack of communication within our system is killing people.  Blind Medicine
  • We can't leave decision-making to politicians and special interest groups.  We will all need healthcare at some point, and we need to shape reform based on people, not politics.  Radical Moderation
  • Those who represent us are not like us.  They won't be hurt if they make the system worse, and they don't really know what goes on in real life.  We need to advocate for ourselves.  Why Blogging Matters
  • Trusting the insurance industry to fix the problem is the pinnacle of stupidity.  Rabid Wolves
  • Primary Care is central to reform, but usually gets left out.  Can I Play?
  • Epileptic emu farmers from Canada sometimes fret over windmills.  Return of the Llamas

That's a lot of reading, I know.  Pick and choose.  The bottom-line is that I don't care how the system gets fixed; I just want that fix to be what is best for the patients I take care of - one that lets me take the best care of them possible.

What do YOU think I need to address when in Washington?  You don't have to agree with my opinions.  I want to know.