January 2001

Beyond Y2K

By Michael J. Katin, MD

It is now 8 am on 01-02-01 and presumably safe to go ahead and post this column now that the last threat of Y2K (specifically, 01-01-01 as a default) seems to have passed. Visitors to this web site (145,697 so far) will recall my September, 1999, column, dealing with the concerns of facing Y2K without appearing too paranoid. In fact, since it wasn't erased by 9/9/99, Y2K, Y2K+1, or 01/01/01, it can still be pulled up from the Opinion section and you don't have to use your memories. Needless to say, our preparations for the transition from 1999 to 2000 were in excess of those reported in that column. The small herds of sheep we stockpiled in each office have long since strayed off, and the water in the containers seems to be growing something, and maybe it's time to move on to facing the future with some confidence that we can have control of our destiny, at least until the next premonition (the score 30-22 comes to mind).

I would therefore encourage that the more politically-inclined among us again become proactive in dealing with the incoming Bush Administration. This is serious and I will avoid all the easy cheap shots (preceded by Bush, followed by Bush...a dream come true for Bill Clinton). Mr. Bush and his incoming Vice-President, Lon Chaney, have already assembled most of the nominees for the Cabinet including Governor Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin as their proposed Secretary of Health and Human Services.

It has already been reported that the nominee for Attorney General, John Ashcroft, will be challenged regarding of his views on gun control and abortion. In the meantime, we will probably not hear any withering questioning of Governor Thompson because of his positions on Radiation Oncology.

I think it is mandatory that we survey the Senators who will be participating in the confirmation hearings for Governor Thompson to make sure these questions are asked. How, for example, does he feel about expanded use of IMRT? Bundling of radiation oncology management codes? The use of bolus in primary breast treatment? Nothing would help us more than having these items get widespread attention by the 16 people who will be watching on C-SPAN.

Instead, we'll probably be subjected to more mundane topics such as immunization and child care, although I would like our public officials to keep in mind: when's the last time you saw a 3-year-old punch out a chad?

email: mkatin@radiotherapy.com