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E-mails from Docs Against The Obama/Pelosi/Reid Rationing Plan

Thursday, May 7, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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Some e-mails from doctors clued into the fact that the Obama/Pelosi/Reid “reform” is just rationing dressed up in soothing rhetoric:

From Dr. M:

Hugh,

I am a pediatric neuroradiologist. I take care of children with severe neurological diseases, tumors, trauma, etc. I am an Associate Professor at the University of _________Medical School and practice at Children’s Medical Center in ______. I am also a researcher using state of the art MRI. I can tell you that if we go to a single pay system, it will destroy the kind of healthcare and research which has allowed us to lead the world.Currently we have the best subspecialists in the world and free access and referral for state of the art care. As an example, I was on staff at another children’s hospital in a large Midwestern city a couple of years ago and had a young boy with a large carotid artery aneurysm. We did not have the pediatric expertise in our city to treat him, but I have world class colleagues in another city who treat these things for a living, so I made some phone calls. The boy went to UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, was treated and now faces a normal life. This kind of subspecialty referral care will end with rationing. This is unacceptable. Rationing would have forced that boy to “take the best available locally” or would not pay for the expensive interventional procedure which was life changing for this boy. Also, if they destroy medicine, what motivation will there be for the best and brightest to enter medicine.

From Dr. Leatherman:

Dear Mr. Hewitt,

I am a physician (M.D.) practicing geriatric psychiatry in Texas for the last 16 years. I am a member of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (aapsonline.org) and am so opposed to government intervention in medicine that, although all of my patients are Medicare recipients, I have “opted out” of Medicare which means that all of my patients must pay out-of-pocket to see me and I cannot bill Medicare for any services. I can work with individual patients so that they can afford my services, and I can treat some patients for free! Under Medicare I am not allowed to do that. I have been active in legislative work in Texas on behalf of psychiatrists and their patients for about the last 13 years. You can read some of my articles at www.txpsych.org.
You asked Senator Kyl why the AMA and other physician organizations had been silent on health care rationing. AAPS mentioned above has been very vocal about government-run medicine. The AMA sold physicians out long ago with their CPT coding and constant bartering with CMS (used to be HCFA) which runs Medicare. They have always betrayed physicians so that the organization could “keep a seat at the table” which to me means getting invited to Washington parties and keeping organizational power. If you look at membership of AMA, it has been steadily declining.
Medical schools are as liberal as their undergraduate counterparts. The medical schools depend on government funding to operate (and the cost of a medical education has risen as a result), research dollars are funded through the NIH (especially now that the “evil” drug companies have been curtailed in their research), and most patients who seek care at medical schools are Medicaid, CHIP, or Medicare recipients. For that reason, these students have never had to be small business owners. At best, they go into practice for huge physician groups that act as agents for the individual physicians, paying their salaries, and speaking for them. Because of all of the bureaucratic oversight, it is difficult to practice solo. Medicare regulations alone are more complex than the IRS, and CMS has more draconian enforcement authority.
I appreciate your work on this issue. I am so tired of having to explain to patients that “government health care” does not mean that they will get the same care they have now with “the government” footing the bill. It means that the government will decide what care you get and you will have no recourse. After all–you’re cheaper if you’re dead!
Sincerely,
Martha E. Leatherman, M.D

From Dr. P:

I am a 66 year old Pediatrician currently transitioning into
retirement. I echo the comments made by the Sr. VP for medical affairs. My junior associate who is taking over has already informed me that she will no longer go to the hospital – too much work, too great a risk, too little return for the effort, etc. The 200 bed hospital I attend at has 0NE Pediatrician left on staff my age who just had surgery and walks with a brace. A new Pediatrician hired by the hospital is one month from joining him but has yet to get her state license – ipso facto cannot see patients. There are three other Pediatricians in the community. None have staff privileges except for a half-timer. The hospital has about
700 births a year and a drawing area of 250,000. God help them.

The hospital has critical shortages of all primary care specialties, i.e. Family Practice, Internal Medicine, and Ob-Gyn. Why ? Two reasons. (1)The government artificially distorts the market. 75% of my patients are Medicaid in the first year of life. Who the hell would buy insurance when the government picks up the tab? Many need it, but a lot don’t. This is an industrial region, not a farming region, even if it looks rural. My parents work for large corporations. (2) Women doctors.75% of Pediatric residents and 52% of entering medical students are female. They won’t move to small towns and rural zones. They won’t work as many hours or as many years. It takes 3x as many women as 2 male doctors to do the work.

My practice is to remove identifying markers unless my e-mail correspondents specifically tell me they have no objection to being named. I’ll continue to popst as many doctor comments as possible, but the “Doctors for Obama” are clearly a vocal subset in advocating for single payer by any name.

So where’s the AMA?

E-mails from docs must contain a phone number where y staff can confirm youare who you say you are.

hugh@hughhewitt.com

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