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Are Some Hospitals Turning Away Patients to Save Money?

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Dr. Manny Alvarez

The problems just keep piling up on hospitals – not just here in the United States, but worldwide.

A recent report about an Australian hospital that is closing its doors to non-citizens for medical care in order to save money made me wonder what the doctors and nurses at this hospital must be going through.

Believe you me, I don’t know of any doctors or nurses who went into medicine thinking about the immigration status of any patient. They went into this field because they want to heal, because they love science, and because they could not imagine doing anything else in life.

The 21st century has brought many great medical discoveries, but it has also brought misery to the practice of medicine. Now, hospitals apparently can’t pay their bills, doctors are being forced to ration drugs to patients, and nobody is offering up any feasible solutions to these problems.

Could something like this happen in the U.S.? I hope not.

Hospitals should be a place where people come to get help. But these institutions also have to be supported.

Economically speaking, the cost of health care cannot keep rising and be expected to sustain everybody’s needs. Changes had better be coming soon that address the many factors that have contributed to the chaos.

So, let’s take a look at a few things that need to be fixed:

-Physicians are being told that one of the future aspects of Obamacare is pay-for-performance. In other words, save money by keeping the patient healthy, and doctors will get a few extra dollars in their pockets. Great idea, but what are we going to do about all the hospital administrators that are responsible for providing the management in our hospital systems? Many of these administrators are bureaucrats with poor qualifications making six-figure salaries that they do not deserve. Why don’t they get paid based on performance?

-Medical-legal reform. When I die, I want on my tombstone, “Here lies Dr. Manny, father of three, loved his family but died waiting for tort reform.” You will never stop defensive medicine and overutilization of tests without revising the current system.

-Insurance companies need to get their act together. They’d rather pay a doctor in network a few dollars, but pay out-of-network doctors an exorbitant amount of money. This has created markets in the U.S. where most physicians are out-of-network, meaning that patients have to pay a lot more money for care and go to physicians they may not necessarily want to use.

-Let the states decide what their healthcare priorities are. The federal government should stay away from mandating that the states follow their game plan in using Medicaid dollars. Every single state has different needs, and these needs would best be served by having the medical community along with state leaders figure out the agenda for their respective states.

So as you can see, I’m a little upset about this story from Australia – probably more sad than angry, honestly. I just hope we don’t get to a point where we start doing the same thing in this country. But I fear with the current laws we have in the book, it could be just a matter of time.

Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's Senior Managing Editor for Health News. Prior to this position, Alvarez was a FNC medical contributor.
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