Wednesday, December 19, 2012
In the December 3 issue of Modern Healthcare, a reporter interviewed a number of the members of the new Congress who are also physicians. They were all asked what they thought were the most important health care priorities remaining after the Affordable Care Act. Many of the answers were shocking to me in that they were completely focused on preserving physician incomes, totally ignoring issues that were more broadly applicable to the American public or improving health care in this country. The vast majority of the physician-legislators cited things like allowing physicians to balance-bill patients, decreasing antitrust oversight of physicians, enacting tort reform so that doctors can't be sued easily, and fixing the Medicare sustainable growth rate so that there are no cuts to physician reimbursement every year. With a few exceptions,they failed to cite issues that might actually improve the quality and availability of health care in this country, like increasing the number of slots in medical schools to address the upcoming shortage of doctors, studying treatments to determine what really works and what is costly but does not work, or reducing medical errors and improving hospital safety.
Although I'm not sure why I should be surprised at this unyieldingly self-serving focus in Congress, it really made me fear for the future of American health care. If the people who have the best professional backgrounds, credibility, and the positions to effect real change in our health care system are more interested in protecting the incomes of their cronies, what will really happen? How very sad for us, and what a sad statement about the ethics that are taught in medical school or are acquired through political activity. Bah Humbug!
Cross-Posted on Healthy Interests