“What do you mean, ‘No heart surgeon’s available?’ That’s totally unacceptable! Do you know who I am?” the red-faced patient screamed, spittle flying.
A tall, fifty-something nurse calmly wiped her face with a tissue and folded it, while staring intently into the livid patient’s dark eyes. “Of course I know who you are, senator. Every man, woman and transgender working in the medical field knows you’re the oh-so-brilliant, attractive, youthful socialist, who sold the American people—and your fellow congressional sycophants—on Medicare for All. Your crowning achievement was ramming through the Universal Healthcare Act of 2025. And now you’re out here in flyover country, stumping for the presidency. Your second attempt at the Oval Office.”
“Damned right, nursie! So, let’s cut the crap, OK? I demand that you get on the phone and order your hospital’s best cardiac surgeon to get his butt down to this emergency room now!” the patient bellowed, flicking a delicate hand. Shoulder-length dark hair matted her sweat-streaked brow and cheeks, framing sharply defined facial features. At the moment, they matched a shade of dingy wallpaper paste. She abruptly grimaced and clutched her breast with both hands, as if being stabbed. “Oh, God!” she squeaked.
“What’s your level of pain, dear?” the nurse asked, moving to a stainless steel tower of IV bags linked to the patient’s arms.
“Ten! God! More than ten!” the young woman muttered, curling in pain. The nurse nodded, checked a rack of electronic monitors and opened a small valve, increasing the flow of powerful fentanyl pain-killer through a plastic tube and needle inserted into the patient’s inner arm.
Soon, the woman relaxed and sucked a deep breath. “Better, thanks,” she mumbled. “Now, get that surgeon…”
Registered Nurse Donna White’s hand sliced horizontally, silencing the patient. “I’ve told you three times. There are no heart surgeons at this hospital. Or at any other hospital in this entire state. Surely your staff’s kept you informed about the devastating impacts your UHA has had on the healthcare industry!” She glared at the woman lying before her, vaguely noting that the Socialist Democrat presidential front-runner radiated an unpleasant body odor.
“Of course!” the patient huffed. “Over three-hundred million Americans now have access to first-class healthcare, thanks to UHA-2025! And it’s free to everybody.”
“Right. Including eighteen-million illegal immigrants,” the nurse clipped. She sighed and tucked a strand of gray behind her ear. “Nothing we can do about that right now. Here are the facts directly affecting you tonight. Right here, right now: Based on those scans we did, you are in critical need of quadruple bypass surgery. All of your coronary arteries are hopelessly clogged, and your heart’s electrical system has gone haywire.”
“That’s impossible,” the woman huffed. “I’m too young to have old-people heart problems! You’ve made a terrible mistake. I mean it! Get…that…cardiac…surgeon in here ASAP!”
The patient was sweating profusely, Nurse White noted. She really is hurting, poor dear, the nurse thought, softening. Yes, the patient was a stereotypically arrogant, self-absorbed politician, but still a human being in desperate need of medical care. At the moment, she also was a scared little girl, not the cocky, cute senator who had mesmerized a generation of Millennials, an equally clueless news media and countless Silicon Valley millionaires with promises of all-green energy, gun confiscation and free college for all.
“Senator, I honestly wish I could rustle up an experienced heart surgeon,” White said quietly. “There simply are none available. Zero. Nada.” She raised a palm and tilted her chin, halting an imminent outburst. “The harsh truth is this: Your Medicare-for-All philosophy literally and thoroughly decimated America’s healthcare sector. Thousands of doctors, nurses, technicians and support personnel have had to abandon the work they love, because they could no longer make a living by taking caring of patients. In the name of slashing costs, thousands of your Medicare bureaucrats arbitrarily decided what a physician was worth. His or her specialty didn’t matter a whit. ‘Here’s your government-determined salary, doc. Take it or leave it.’ Around here, ninety-plus percent chose to leave it. That’s why we don’t have a cardiovascular surgeon. Understand?”
The nurse paused to re-check the young woman’s vitals. “Not good, dear. Not good.”
“What’s not good? My law? You got that wrong, nursie!” the patient slurred, eyelids drooping. Painkillers were taking effect. “Everybody in America is finally covered by the best healthcare in the world!”
White shook her head and shot the patient a look of disgust. “I meant your vital signs. In simple terms, your heart’s losing its ability to pump sufficient blood to keep your critical organs functioning. Unless you’re in surgery tonight…. You may not be here in the morning. Sorry, but that’s the bald-faced truth, dear.”
The patient blinked, her mouth hanging open in disbelief. “No way! That’s not possible. You’re not qualified to make that assessment! And I’m….” Her jaw slammed shut, before the thought—too important—escaped as irretrievable audio. Not exactly appropriate, under the circumstances.
Nurse White stifled a laugh, knowing very well what the good senator didn’t quite spout. “No, you’re waaay behind the harsh reality. Was the best healthcare system in the world! No longer, thanks to your UHA, girlie.” White’s face flushed. What the hell. Let the little twerp have it! Nobody else has the guts to tell her the truth!
“Senator, you really are hopelessly stupid and clueless! That statute you’re so proud of has destroyed thousands of lives and decimated the American healthcare system, which was world-class, before your damned law took effect. In the last year alone, hundreds of hospitals have closed. Thousands of doctors and nurses have given up and gone off to other professions and jobs. We’re down to a skeleton staff, and I expect this hospital will close within weeks.
“The best neurosurgeon in the state once worked here. He’s now selling real estate, barely getting by. And that guy is madder than hell! He spent a huge chunk of his life in med school and residency, and had just paid off hundreds of thousands of dollars in educational loans. He and his beautiful wife—another doctor, pediatrics—were finally able to buy a house and were about to start a family. Those kids had lived on beans and noodles for a decade, and were finally top-notch physicians, making good money! All their hopes and dreams came to a screeching halt, though, when your ignorant UHA law clobbered them. This hospital lost two wonderful doctors, because all-knowing federal bureaucrats decided they only deserved a pittance in compensation. Two lives totally disrupted and lifelong dreams ruined, thanks to your UHA.”
“That can’t be true!” the stubborn patient hissed, flicking another dismissive wave. “The law specifically requires physicians and other important healthcare professionals be adequately compensated. Maybe they can’t buy a new BMW every year, but they don’t need all that money! They’re getting a fair salary! And the law substantially cut healthcare costs by eliminating unnecessary tests, hospital stays and treatments.”
White bit her lip. “Good God, lady! You really don’t get it, do you?”
“Get what? I had the best academic minds in the U.S. drafting UHA-2025!”
“And not a single one of those clueless professors had ever worked in real-world healthcare. They couldn’t have, because they totally ignored the ‘M Factor.’ They were writing doomed-to-fail legislation from their world view, a fantasyland of cool ideas and feel-good theories, not the reality of patients and practical medicine!”
The young patient managed a thin smile. “The ‘M Factor’? That an insider term you medical elites made up?”
“No, we definitely didn’t,” White shot back. “It’s a term no Socialist Democrat could possibly understand. But it’s precisely why every experiment in socialism has been an utter, abject, complete failure.”
The patient bristled. “You’re mistaken, nursie! Socialism was never implemented correctly! Our American version is working! The UHA proves we got it right this time!”
Nurse White scanned the bank of monitors, struggling to control a legendary temper. The patient’s EKG was becoming more erratic. Blood pressure and pulse rate were steadily deteriorating. White had seen this combination before. If she goes into ventricular fibrillation….
“So, what’s this mysterious ‘M Factor’?” the woman persisted.
“Motivation!” White snapped, focused on adjusting an IV drip, then typing a note into her computer. “Socialism always destroys motivation. Why should young men and women beat their brains out for decades, gaining the knowledge and exquisite skills necessary to perform a delicate procedure on your heart—sometimes while it’s beating—or your child’s brain, or your husband’s shattered leg, after a skiing accident? Why take on staggering financial debt, if the only reward is a biweekly government paycheck substantially smaller than that of a plumber or software code-writer?”
The bed-ridden woman stared silently. She seemed smaller, as if shrinking away. “But socialism is more fair!” she wailed. “It’s not right that some people have so much and others fight to simply survive! Besides, doctors don’t need exorbitant salaries! They can get by on much less! They don’t deserve to make more than their maid and barber!”
“That’s total bull, senator!” White snapped. “This nation was founded on the principle that every citizen has the opportunity to become whatever he or she wants to be. No assurances; just an equal chance to achieve a goal. If you’re willing to work hard, you have a good shot at not only a satisfying career, but also real wealth. Those who achieve difficult goals do deserve to enjoy the fruits of their labors. Nobody is guaranteed a particular outcome, only an equal opportunity. And that system built the richest, most powerful nation on Earth.
“You’re a smart young lady,” White continued, folding her arms and leaning on the bed’s rail. “Or so the ga-ga media keeps insisting. But I’ll bet big bucks you’ve never read a little book written by Mary Elise Sarotte, entitled, The Collapse: The Accidental Opening of the Berlin Wall.”
Smirking, the patient rolled her eyes in disgust.
“Of course not,” White sniffed. “So you’ve never read a stunning passage in that book, a quote by the leader of East Germany, Gunter Schabowksi. After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, he declared, ‘Socialism doesn’t work!’ It’s never worked, because no human being will work his tail off to receive the same pay as some dork who sits on his butt and never lifts a finger. That system offers absolutely no incentive to work hard—and kills motivation. The ‘M Factor.’”
The senator looked away, choked and pressed a fist against her lips. A tear slid down her cheek. She took a ragged breath, cleared her throat and whispered, “Am I really dying? No BS. The truth!”
The nurse hesitated a beat. “Yes, honey. You are. I’m sorry…”
Clearing her throat, the young senator barked, “I need something to write on. And a pen…. Please.” White handed her both and turned back to the bank of sophisticated equipment, studying jagged squiggles marching across small screens, flanked by columns of ever-shifting figures.
“Here. Take this.” The patient waved a folded slip of paper pinched between a thumb and forefinger. “Have your hospital administrator call a press conference. He or she or even you will stand before the cameras and read this. For me. Got it?” False bravodo on parade, the nurse flashed.
White slipped the folded sheet into her smock’s pocket. “Of course, dear. But you’re the hot little presidential candidate. You should deliver this message.”
The patient snorted. “Like hell I will! You and I both know I’m not long for this world, and….” Her voice trailed off in a whisper. Finally, she murmured, “I don’t want to die! Why won’t you find a doctor to help me?”
White fought tears for a long moment. “Because there are no doctors to find. None who can help you. They’ve all…left. Like I said, they couldn’t make enough to take care of their families or themselves.” Gently, she took the patient’s hand and held it. The two women stared at each other for a long time.
At 4:39 a.m., the young, passionate Socialist Democrat senator passed away, a victim of uncontrollable ventricular fibrillation. Her media staffer issued a brief press release announcing the presidential candidate’s shocking, untimely death. It also alerted news organizations that more details would be provided in a press conference scheduled for 9:00 a.m.
Standing before a rack of blinding lights, a forest of microphones and myriad TV cameras, the hospital’s administrator patiently walked through medical details related to the senator’s demise. In essence, a rare genetic condition had doomed the woman to heart problems and a short life. No, he couldn’t explain why it hadn’t been caught before. Yes, with the proper intervention—delicate surgery, which only a few physicians were trained to perform—she might have lived.
Shouted questions evoked blunt, shocking explanations about how quickly the senator’s Universal Healthcare Act had devastated the entire American medical sector, driving critical-care physicians, nurses, technicians and other professionals from the field. Disbelieving reporters kept hammering away, refusing to accept what the administrator was espousing. In frustration, he called Nurse Donna White to the podium, introducing her as “A professional who took care of the senator, throughout her final hours.”
White ignored the reporters’ screams and indignant gotcha questions, slowly unfolding a slip of paper. Holding it aloft, she said, “Last night, my patient asked that I relay her handwritten message to all of you this morning.” Slipping on a pair of half-moon reading glasses, she read:
“‘To my fellow Americans: I am humbled by your trust and faith in me and my message of hope. With all my heart, I believed that message was right. But tonight, I have learned a very hard lesson. I was wrong, terribly wrong. Socialism and Medicare-for-All are doomed to fail. Socialism does not work.
“‘Bernie, Kamala and all my dear congressional colleagues, please honor my final, dying request: Repeal the Universal Healthcare Act of 2025. It is directly responsible for my death. Rebuild America’s once-great healthcare sector. And please, please accept my sincere apologies for destroying it.”
The nurse paused, held the paper face-out to the cameras, and said, “Signed, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, U.S. Senator.”