February 1998

Obligatory Clinton Column

By Michael J. Katin, MD

Since this column is supposed to be directed toward radiation oncology-related topics, it has become necessary to address the current furor over the relationship between President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.  The connection will not, however, be the one you are anticipating.

Now that Kenneth Starr has spent four years investigating our President's connection with Whitewater, Madison Savings and Loan, the Lippo group, and countless other unsavory players, he is about to hit paydirt because of allegations of misbehavior related peripherally at best to the original topic.  Millions of dollars have been spent in this investigation which, in fact, has resulted in more indictments than Iran-Contra .  On the President's side are numerous personages spending full time on defense and doing nothing at all resembling the jobs they are supposed to be doing as public servants.  We see a full staff working with the First Lady handling damage control, in addition to those working directly with the President, and we now find that Betty Currie, the President's personal secretary, has devoted substantial time to tracking down gifts to and from the President from and to Monica Lewinsky (presumably not including trips to the dry cleaners).

The point is:  we are barraged every day by threats to our professional reimbursement.  If it's not bundling of previously separately-coded charges, it's hassles over what constitutes three-dimensional conformal therapy.  If it's not tightening the screws on the weekly management charge, it's deciding who can and can't charge for physics.

It's been said that the money to be paid by the tobacco companies in their settlement should go directly to Medicare rather than to be potentially wasted in the general fund.  I would be willing to bet that the total amount of money spent on inestigating and defending our President would much more than compensate for all the cutbacks demanded of us over the last 6 years.  Whereas at the end of these investigations President Clinton will still be in office, leaving nothing resolved, if that money had been turned back to us in radiation oncology, he would still be in office and we would have more money.  It's as simple as that.

In the meantime, I can still be resentful that I don't have a secretary who will run around and do errands to bail me out of my personal problems and not have to be paid personally by me and that my wife doesn't have a zillion people flitting around her at government expense.  But then again, I don't have to go through the intense scrutiny and be held to the same high standards as the President.

email: mkatin@radiotherapy.com