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Posted by on Jun 16, 2008 in Health care

How Is Reciting Pi to 22,000 Numbers Like Reforming Medicare?

How Is Reciting Pi to 22,000 Numbers Like Reforming Medicare?


It isn’t. The former is a hat-trick recitation of known, memorizable numbers in sequence (albeit a very long sequence), with no practical purpose. The latter is an enduring health insurance program for the elderly, with budgetary problems and unknown solutionsother than more money. 

But AMA President Ronald Davis believes that one should follow the other. In an appealing-sounding, but really illogical, statement made at the annual meeting of the AMA house of delegates, Davis claimed, “If a person with autism can recite Pi to more than 22,000 digits, we ought to be able to…figure out how to get off the [Medicare] hamster wheel.”* Cue: rousing applause accompanied by sprinkled thoughts of “huh?”

*On March 14, 2004, autistic savant Daniel Tammet recited Pi to 22,514 decimal places, breaking the European record. Davis’s “hamster wheel” refers to cyclic Medicare cuts in physician reimbursement for services.

bmartin (1127 Posts)

A native East Tennessean, Barbara Martin is a formerly practicing, board-certified neurologist who received her BS (psychology, summa cum laude) and MD from Duke University before completing her postgraduate training (internship, residency, fellowship) at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She has worked in academia, private practice, medical publishing, drug market research, and continuing medical education (CME). For the last 3 years, she has worked in a freelance capacity as a medical writer, analyst, and consultant. Follow Dr. Barbara Martin on and Twitter.