Friday, September 18, 2009

Is There a Doctor in the House?

Last week I was at the Pri-Med conference in Princeton, NJ, the day after the President pitched his healthcare proposal to Congress. To Obama’s credit, he didn’t let a thousand pages of internecine squabbling deter him, and he gave a fairly clear-headed vision of his goal. But selling a vastly complicated healthcare package to a jittery lay public amid vicious political opposition is a Sisyphean endeavor. Just ask Hillary.

Over coffee I asked one of the attendees — a primary care physician in a 3-doctor practice outside of Trenton — what he thought of Obama’s speech. He said it was a nice speech, eloquent as always. “But what bothered me was that the President spoke at length about patients and payers. I felt left out. Where were the providers in his speech? Community doctors are at the frontlines of medical care and our perspective was never mentioned. We’re pushed to the margins of this debate.”

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And, he opined, when Obama talks about creating an independent Commission to eliminate waste in the system it really says to hard-working doctors across the country that government-driven practice guidelines are on their way. Overutilization of your services is the iceberg the American healthcare system is headed for! So take it or leave it.

The AMA gave a tepid endorsement of Obama’s plan(s). But, as my overly-caffeinated doctor pointed out, the surgeon-heavy AMA represents only about 20 percent of American doctors; and a lot of the primary cares docs out there are developing a Rodney Dangerfield I-don’t-get -no -respect complex. “Soon there won’t be enough docs to treat patients. That’s reform? Our best and brightest are thinking twice before going into medicine. Can you blame them,” he said with a shrug.
I got all this over a quick cup of coffee.

1 comment:

  1. Liberal Doctors supporting Barack Obama...hear this.
    Obama called our profession - in it just for the MONEY!
    example 1. removing tonsils because it good reimbursement!
    example 2: amputation gets a surgeon $50,000!!!!
    Both absolutely WRONG!!!
    So while liberal doctors - support and respect this president...He REALLY does not respect you or your profession. GET IT! Stop drinking cool-aid!