by WALTER BRASCH
"Ola, Amigo! Pack your bags, we're going to Mexico!" bubbled Dr. Franklin Peterson Comstock III, faux physician and money-maker.
"Yeah, I could use a decent vacation," I replied, figuring he'd pay for both of us since he had just set the world record for the most nose jobs in a 24-hour period.
"What vacation?" he said. "I'm setting up practice."
"And give up catering to rich people with inflated bank accounts and deflated ethics?"
"Don't have a choice. I'm getting laid off."
Comstock had been a rainmaker for the Megabucks Happy Health Care Medical Center for the past decade. There was only one reason I could think of why he'd be laid off. "Megabucks tired of paying your malpractice insurance?" I asked.
"Not just me," he said. "Hospital's laying off most of the staff, making the rest work overtime, and hiring outside contractors. They said it was hard to survive when the profit was down to only 20 or so million a year."
"I didn't realize it was that serious," I said. "You planning to set up private practice to help the poor in Mexico?" I asked admiringly.
"Not a chance! Gonna get rich working for Megabucks!"
"You just said you were laid off."
"Been laid off in the U.S.," said Comstock while putting a frozen burrito into the microwave. "Megabucks/Mexico just hired me. There's cheaper labor down there."
"You crazy?" I asked. "You're the cheaper labor."
"Obviously you don't know American business," said Comstock haughtily.
"Megabucks/U.S. closes its auxiliary operations, and then contracts with Mexican companies for a fifth of the cost in the U.S. They do the work, ship it back to the U.S., and Megabucks bills Blue Cross the full rate as if it was done locally."