Dr. Elizabeth Lee Vliet has been a member of the American Medical Association for most of the more than 30 years she has practiced medicine.
But she resigned from the organization after it endorsed President Obama’s plan to reform the country’s health care system.
Vliet, a women’s health specialist and author of “It’s My Ovaries, Stupid!; Screaming To Be Heard: Hormonal Connections Women Suspect — And Doctors STILL Ignore,” admits that health care reform is necessary, but she says a government takeover is not the answer.
“We are looking at massively changing the entire health care system that is one-sixth of our economy in order to address problems that apply to a small portion of Americans,” she told FOXNews.com.
“These are problems that need to be addressed, and I am a proponent of dealing with these problems from providing more affordable insurance to small businesses to helping people with pre-existing health conditions,” she continued. “But these problems have been out there for a long time, and a government takeover of the entire health system is like throwing out the baby with the bath water.”
An AMA spokeswoman told FOXNews.com that the organization does not support a government takeover of health care. Instead, she said, it supports a fair private insurance market and a public safety net that provides affordable and quality health care to all Americans.
On further issues, the AMA spokeswoman referred FOXNews.com to a series of press releases recently sent out by the organization, as well as to ads the organization recently took out in the Chicago Tribune, New York Times and the Wall Street Journal to express its views on the health care debate.
“This ad is a reminder of why the AMA is working for reform,” said AMA President J. James Rohack in a news release. “Forty-seven million Americans don’t have health insurance, and physicians work day and night to provide patients with high-quality care within the confines of a broken system.”
Best Health Care System in the World
Vliet points out that according to a study conducted by the British medical journal, The Lancet, America leads the world in the cure rate for 16 cancers and has achieved a survival rate of better than 90 percent for five different types of cancer.
“The only other country to achieve a 90 percent survival rate for cancer is France, and that’s for only one cancer – testicular,” she said. “We lead the world in development of cancer drugs. We benefit the rest of the world with our innovation and our medical technology and doing that costs money. It’s not fair to say medical costs are soaring. It’s the innovation that saves lives that costs more.”
Vliet said a government takeover of the health care system would eliminate competition and lower the incentive for scientists and companies to continue to look for ways to improve on medical care and technology.
“[Health care] might cost less if we were practicing 1980s medicine like many countries with government-run health care are doing,” she said. “But the American people don’t want 1980s medicine.”
Vliet believes that the government will be able to bear the expense of medical care only through rationing, and she said she’s found examples of this in Britain and Canada.
“Bureaucrats in Canada and Britain prohibit use of new medicines that ‘cost too much,’ she said. “Britain denies mammograms after age 70, dialysis after age 50, and [Pap screenings] are only done after age 25. In Canada, waits of 18-24 months for hip surgery are typical.”
In its ads, the AMA said it does not support interference from the government or private insurance companies; instead, it seeks health care reform that would “protect the sacred relationship between patients and their physicians,” as well as a plan that would “eliminate denials (for insurance coverage) for pre-existing conditions.”
Putting People in Charge of Their Own Health Care
Vliet believes some Republicans in Congress have it right by looking to a free-market model that encourages competition to lower pricing in the insurance industry. She also looks to the “Safeway” model for lowering health care costs.
The Safeway grocery chain has continually reduced health care costs for its company and its employees by putting health care in the hands of the employees themselves. This includes offer incentives and lower costs to employees who practice healthy lifestyles such as eating right, exercising and having annual checkups to prevent health problems before they start.
“Everyone wants the doctor to fix them, but aren’t willing to do their part – eat right, exercise, get enough sleep because the incentives have been misaligned,” Vliet said. “We have to get back to those basics. In every company, every situation I’ve been involved in where the patient is rewarded with better premiums by making healthy decisions, health care costs have been brought down.”
Making a Hypocrisy of Hippocratic Oath
Vliet believes support of the Obama administration’s health care plan violates the section of the Hippocratic Oath that says, “I will follow that method of treatment which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous.”
Vliet believes this oath will be violated if bureaucrats begin deciding that patients are too old or too sick to receive medical care.
“With a government-run health plan patients will lose their choices and options when making decisions with their doctors and families about health care,” she said. “And they won’t have timely access to medicine. The statistics are indisputable on the wait time that people face in countries with government-run health care.
“This is not how the United States of America has done things,” Vliet added. “These are not the values I grew up with. In fact, they’re more reminiscent of what my husband and I encountered when we took trips to the Soviet Union in 1974 and ’75.”
But the AMA’s Rohack says it’s a flawed Medicare system that’s putting the health care of older Americans at risk.
It’s “the broken Medicare physician payment system that harms seniors’ access to care,” Rohack said in a news release. “Without repeal, physicians face payment cuts of nearly 40 percent over the next five years that will force them to limit the number of seniors they can treat – right as the baby boomers begin aging into Medicare.”