SOCIALIZED MEDICINE OR ALARMISM?

A physician forum that started a few years ago called Sermo provides a professional venue for discussing all things medical, clinical, political, economic or otherwise. I thought I’d share some excerpts from an editorial by the founder and CEO, Dr. Daniel Palestrant:

“Lately I have been watching with complete horror the events playing out in my home state of Massachusetts.  A bill currently under review by the state legislature will make participation in the state and federal Medicare/Medicaid programs a condition of medical licensure, effectively making physicians employees of the state. This is particularly alarming because Massachusetts is essentially a leading indicator of what will happen in the rest of the country. . . . Like the recently passed national health reform bill, the Massachusetts law did not address any of the well known causes of runaway costs, including tort reform, drug costs, or insurance regulation …. [The state]  … is grappling with exploding healthcare costs.  In response, it is imposing capitation schedules, reductions in payment rates and now mandatory participation in the health programs by physicians.” Meanwhile, “the private insurers are … free to lower their physician payments, based on the Medicare/Medicaid benchmarks.”

“The net effect of these laws is that it will make it close to impossible for physicians to stay in private practice.  Patient access to physicians will suffer as more and more physicians retire and/or move to different states. … 28 states are now imposing ‘comparability’ laws that allow nurse practitioners and other allied healthcare professionals to work without the supervision of a physicians with equal pay.”

His conclusion? “I knew this reform effort would be bad for the practice of medicine and even worse for patient care. I just had no idea things would deteriorate this fast.” [Italics his.]

I thought the purpose of building a “trial balloon” was to avoid making an even bigger mistake.

I guess I was wrong.

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