Submitted by Thair Phillips
President of RetireSafe
RetireSafe Op-Ed for Aspen News
As President of RetireSafe, I regularly speak with seniors across the country regarding their thoughts on the economy, health care and the future. I was talking with one Coloradoan - one of our nearly 6,000 supporters in Colorado — and she told me how concerned she was about a proposed change to an existing Medicare policy that would pose a serious risk to Colorado’s seniors.
Governor Bill Ritter, who is not running for re-election, is proposing to shift supervision of anesthesia from doctors to nurses. While this may sound like a turf battle, it most certainly is not. It’s an effort to “cut costs” that could put lives in jeopardy. The question she posed was, “when you are lying open on the operating table, don’t you want a doctor in charge?”
Anesthesiologists are far better qualified to make crucial medical decisions. Physicians who provide anesthesia have at least eight years of medical education and training, while nurses have only three years. Physicians earn a college degree, then go to medical school, do an internship, followed by a residency and sometimes a fellowship in anesthesiology. On the other hand, nurses obtain a college degree in nursing and then go to a three-year certification program in anesthesiology. The difference is striking, considering lives are at stake.
Seniors face a multitude of health care challenges; this change to Medicare rules will only introduce yet another fear, or uncertainty, into their lives — and an unnecessary one at that.
We cannot — and will not — support any efforts to circumvent longstanding Medicare rules. We do not believe that anesthesia should be administered without the supervision of a physician. To do so would endanger every Colorado citizen, with none more vulnerable than the older Americans who reside in your state.