A few years ago, my small local hospital asked a Senate staffer if she could assist them in obtaining federal money for a new building. So she did, expediting the process by which that particular corner of northern New Hampshire was deemed to be “under-served” and thus eligible for the fed gravy. At the ribbon-cutting, she was an honored guest, and they were abundant in their praise. Alas, in the fullness of time, the political pendulum swung, her senator departed the scene, and she was obliged to take a job out of state.
Last summer, she returned to the old neighborhood and thought she’d look for a doctor. The sweet old guy with the tweed jacket in the neatly painted cape on Main Street had taken down his shingle and retired. Most towns in the North Country now have fewer doctors than they did in the 19th century, and the smaller towns have none. The Yellow Pages lists more health insurers than physicians, which would not seem to be an obvious business model. So she wound up going to the health center she’d endowed so lavishly with your tax dollars just a few years earlier.
They gave her the usual form to fill in, full of perceptive inquiries on her medical condition: Do you wear a seat belt? Do you own a gun? How many bisexual men are you now having sex with? These would be interesting questions if one were signing up for eHarmony.com and looking to date gun-owning bisexuals who don’t wear seat belts, but they were not immediately relevant to her medical needs. Nevertheless, she complied with the diktats of the Bureau of Compliance, and had her medical records transferred, and waited . . . and waited. That was August. She has now been informed that she has an appointment with a nurse-practitioner at the end of January. My friend pays $15,000 a year for health insurance. In northern New Hampshire, that and meeting the minimum-entry requirement of bisexual sex partners will get you an appointment with a nurse-practitioner in six months’ time.