There are several reasons why I believe that most doctors are unhappy with the direction that health insurance reform is taking. I address several of these reasons in my oped in today's NY Post (September 23rd, 2009). I will also outline them here. Suffice it to say that adding more patients to the health care turnstiles and promising them access to quality physicians when there is a growing doctor (and nurses) shortage and a growing doctor (and nurse) discontentment is problematic at best. The blanket of health insurance that Congress and the president envision is not long enough to cover the body of health care. If we pull it down to cover the toes, the head will be exposed. If we stretch it to cover the uninsured without dealing with cost or the doctor shortage, we will end up taking care away from those who currently have it and need it (the elderly and the disabled to name two groups who are endangered). Remember, physicians who aren't functioning well have a negative impact on health care.
Reasons for doctor discontentment_
- No meaningful tort reform is included in any of the current bills under consideration in Congress. No shared liability with insurances or the government, no caps on pain and suffering, no review boards to limit nuisance suits, no "loser pays" allowance, despite the fact that physicians win the vast majority of suits.
- No significant subsidies to primary care education, despite the fact that there has been a decline in those choosing primary care of over 50% over the past decade.
- Big cuts to Medicare and Medicaid payments to doctors and hospitals of hundreds of billions of dollars in the bills, despite the fact that doctors are already cut to the bone in terms of increasing expenses and decreasing reimbursements.
- Cuts in payments for procedures and mechanical devices will put more pressure on doctors as patients express their (deserved) discontent, and there is nothing a doctor can do.
Dr. Marc Siegel is an internist and associate professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine. He is a FOX News medical contributor and writes a health column for the LA Times, where he examines TV and movies for medical accuracy. Dr. Siegel's new Ebook: Swine Flu; the New Pandemic, will be published in early October. Dr. Siegel is also the author of "False Alarm: The Truth About the Epidemic of Fear"and "Bird Flu: Everything You Need to Know About the Next Pandemic."Read more at www.doctorsiegel.com
Marc Siegel, M.D. is a professor of medicine and medical director of Doctor Radio at NYU Langone Medical Center. He has been a medical analyst and reporter for Fox News since 2008.