Anyway, we see Cuddy doing yoga, taking care of her sick baby, dealing with a horny Luke, you know, the regulars, and that's all before 8:00 AM! She gets the office, where all hell breaks loose. There's a scheming, stealing, sociopathic pharmacy employee, tough negotiations with an insurance conglomerate, and, of course, House. What this episode accomplishes best is showing us what a true pain in the ass House is to everyone around him, and how completely absurd he and his team are in this otherwise normal hospital environment. You don't really see that when you follow his story day to day, but man, is it apparent when you're walking in Cuddy's high heels.
First off, there's the pharmacy worker who's been stealing medications, and who swears it's just so she can lose those few last pounds so her husband won't divorce her. She cries, but Cuddy still has to fire her anyway. She's tough like that. Then, it turns out the employee had been stealing crates and crates of drugs and funneling them to a meth lab! Oh, no!
Then, Cuddy has to negotiate a contract renewal with a New Jersey insurance megacompany, and issues an ultimatum. If they don't increase doctor reimbursement by 12%, they're cutting the contract. Pretty big words, considering that, if she does, about 80% of their patients will have to pay cash, effectively closing the hospital. But Cuddy doesn't back down - it's about the little guy versus the big guy, good versus bad.
Finally, Cuddy deals with an impending lawsuit, as a patient asked for only half of his thumb to be reconnected to his hand after a terrible carpentry accident. He only wanted some of the thumb reconnected because his insurance would only pay for 60%, or some crazy number. But, Chase decided to pull the old "do something different after the patient's under anesthesia" and reattach the whole thumb. Now, the dude is facing medical bankruptcy and is suing the hospital.
So, we get a pretty clear sense from our friends the House writers that insurance companies really suck, and we should all have government sponsored health care. Where were you before the Conference Committee negotiations on health care reform spectacularly crashed and burned, House? Could have used some support there!
Oh, well. Cuddy, in her ultra efficient way, manages to solve all the problems of the day, by getting the guy to drop the case, getting the insurance agency to agree to a 12% reimbursement bump, and secretly taping (with a fake flower!) the sociopath employee while she confesses to all her crimes. She doesn't give in to House's ridiculous request to treat a cancer patient by inducing malaria, and she's still home by 9:00!
Well, now I know how hard it is to be a successful, independent lady hospital administrator. Also, it's worth mentioning that Cuddy is called a bitch at least FOUR times in this episode, once by House, once by the negotiator for the insurance company, once by a patient, and once by her boyfriend! Okay, so her boyfriend says it as a joke, but still! Cuddy never once reacts to the epithet, and I'm not sure I like the message this is sending. "Sure, girls, be strong and resilient. Solve all the problems of the day. But because you do all these things in an efficient and non-emotional way, you'll be a bitch, and you'll be okay with it." I don't think I am okay with it, actually, House. They weren't necessarily going for feminism with the episode, but there's a line. And I think that line is at three "bitches".