Second thoughts on recent editorial

The recent editorial, “I ain’t much, but I’m all I think about“ (May 2011) raises some very valid points about money, shared sacrifice, and lifestyle. In our upstate New York practice, my partners and I work very hard (we all perform 275 to 375 cases a year) but none of us seems to enjoy the trappings you suggest. The fanciest car in the practice is a new VW Jetta TDI—no Porsches, no Hummers. No one lives in a 5,000-square foot house. None of us has an “eight-figure” retirement account—not even close. At the end of the day, despite my savings, my retirement account may be worth less than the pension of a New York State school teacher who retires at age 56 (as many do) and lives another 30 years. I’m happy with my current level of sacrifice.

However, when elected officials, such as New York State Rep. Pedro Espada, can walk away from a string of shady Medicaid clinics built and run with a more than $12 million package—more than the combined after-tax annual salary of all the orthopaedic surgeons in Syracuse, NY—I have to say that I’m less than enthused about being the first to tighten my belt. When United Healthcare can hand its departing CEO (Bill McGuire) a $1 billion severance package, I have to say, “Wow—that’s a lot of knee replacements.”

Thanks for a thoughtful, provocative article.

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