Code Blue: Health Care in Crisis  by Edward R. Annis. Regnery Gateway Press, Washington, D.C. 1993, 278 pages.

Review by Del Meyer, MD

Doctor Annis opens his introduction describing the two worlds that physicians live in:  The wonderland of modern medicine, a gratifying and challenging world of achievement in research, education, and clinical practice; and the faltering American health care world, which is on the verge of collapse.  Not unlike Charles Dickens in the opening to this Tale of Two Cities:  “It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times.”

Annis gives us many anecdotal insights into the history of American medicine:  Fleming’s discovery of penicillin in England in 1928, that sat on the shelf until American drug companies developed methods of production in 1943, making it available to patients; sick England in the postwar era to healthy America; the high death rate of Europe to increased life expectancy to 68 years in America in 1949.  The high cost of living is only exceeded by the higher cost of dying.  His chapter on health insurance (“Call the Plumber, We’re Insured!”) is a parody on why health insurance is not insurance and, therefore, cannot work in its current format.

Edward Annis, who never chaired a meeting or held an organized medicine office, was elected president of the AMA at a young age in an attempt to counter a cunning band of political sophists in Washington, D.C.  He champions the fight to head off government intrusion between doctor and patient and dispels the myth that a “managed” health care system would solve America’s problems.  He feels the problems in health care have a “Made in Washington” label.  Health care already is the most regulated industry in America, strangling doctors and hospitals by senseless paper work, counterproductive bureaucracy, an abusive civil court system, and price controls that are actually driving prices up.  He feels it should be labeled a crisis in government that can only be solved by less government interference.

In his final chapter, “What’s the Solution?,” Annis gives us his analysis of why third-party systems aren’t working.  Clinton’s health plan; and two well-thought-out plans which he feels put the patient back in the driver’s seat – in charge of his or her own money.  He favors “An Agenda for Solving America’s Health Care Crisis,” by the National Center for Policy Analysis, which can be reached at 214-386-6272.  The other plan “A National Health System for America,” is by the Heritage Foundation and can be obtained by calling 202-546-4400.

Dr. Annis quotes Tom Paine’s 1976 Revolutionary Era treatise, Common Sense, decrying excessive government, Time makes more converts than reason.