What I am Thankful for this Thanksgiving

I know that “Thankful” isn’t a word that has been heard very often in the last months as we all endured an election more divisive than any in memory.

The election results have left some hopeful, others in despair- but universally there is hesitation given the uncertainty about what’s next. As is true in so many sectors of the economy, since November 8th the world of health care has been in turmoil.

Some believe the Trump administration will start dismantling Obamacare immediately, while others note that Mr. Trump has indicated a willingness to keep some parts of the law in place. Congress has certainly signaled that repeal of the ACA is a first order of business, but apparently there is some dissention among GOP members on that plan.

As the details of the Trump Administration are not yet available, it is hard for hospitals and physicians to prepare for what may come as a replacement to the Affordable Care Act. But undoubtedly something will be coming. A GOP led Washington will have to address the access, quality and cost issues that generated the ACA in the first place.

I will be addressing all of this and more in future Fontenotes.

But right now, in this season, all I want to do is give thanks.

1. The people who are our health care system

I am thankful for the medical care that is possible in our country because of the men and women who chose this arena for their career, their employment, their profession. These past months I have seen one small (but exceedingly important!) example watching the doctors, nurses, administrators and staff who took brilliant care of my brother-in-law and my sister- and continue to do so. Day in and day out, across this country- there are people of all political stripes that come together and work for patients with technical expertise, caring, and compassion that extends far beyond the political divisions of the day. Policy is important and laws are necessary, but at the end of the day it is the people in medical care that make it work.

2. The choice we made as a country to provide care to our elderly

I am thankful that we are a country that takes care of our own as they age. I look at my intelligent, independently-living parents, now 92 and 94, and am thankful for the 27 and 29 years they have had medical care afforded to them through Medicare. In 1965, when Medicare began, the life expectancy of a 65-year-old American was 79.3 years. With robust, attentive medical care they have far surpassed any expectation of a generation ago. In return I have had them in my life, and in my sons’ lives, and in the lives of the families my sons are creating.

3. The life I have been given as a physicians family member

I am thankful that as a daughter of a doctor, and 35 years the wife of another, I have lived my whole life in the world of medicine- with all the privilege that connotes. I have had the best of care, the advantage of an in-house medical translator, and the lifestyle those careers have provided for me. As a person who speaks to physician audiences across the country, and circulates within our medical community socially, I understand that many physicians are anxious about their future incomes. But we also recognize that any loss in our finances is meaningless compared to the realities people face all around us.

4. I am thankful for my readers

I am thankful for all of you, but a special thanks to everyone who has let me know there was a Fontenotes that answered a question, or got them thinking, or brought them new understanding about our health care system. I also want to thank the four organizations who republish Fontenotes for their members: The American Association for Physician Leadership, The Professional Association of Health Care Office Management, the Southern Oncology Association of Practices, and Texas Healthcare Trustees. Collectively, with your support and my direct subscribers, I now reach more than 22,000 people. Thank you for letting my voice carry so far.

5. I am thankful that my loved ones don’t all agree

This Thursday I will be sitting with 16 dear family and friends. We will enjoy our meal, and each other, and our futures together. Around the table every possible political opinion will be represented, every candidate- from primaries to completion- will have a fan. We might joke, we might tread softly, but at the end of the day we will all continue to disagree while respecting and loving each other. Conversations across divides are what we need more of in this country; I am truly thankful that my family can start at our Thanksgiving table.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you & all of yours

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