As Congress tries to push through health care reform at a rapid speed and publicize so-called deals with several health industry groups (most recently with hospitals), other members associated with the medical community also have been stepping up their efforts to warn doctors of the potential ramifications with the current health reform.
Roughly seven congressmen (who also happened to be physicians) this week warned health care providers at George Washington University Hospital that components being considered — such as a public health insurance plan, health insurance czar and federal health board — could deteriorate the doctor-patient relationship.
“We tried experimenting with a public plan in Tennessee” through the state’s Medicaid managed program called TennCare, said U.S. Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), who has served as a general physician.
With its near open-ended eligibility, the program found 45 percent of new enrollees previously had private insurance but dropped their plans to go with the less expensive public program, Roe noted during the physician townhall meeting put on by the Medical Society of the District of Columbia. “It became over-utilized and almost broke the state,” he said, adding that patients in TennCare had problems accessing physicians.
Rep. Burgess (R-Texas), who has practiced medicine in North Texas for more than 25 years, said he’s worried a federal health czar would determine his health savings account (HSA) was no longer a viable way to pay for health coverage. “The president has said that if you like what you have, you can keep it. But what if the secretary of a health insurance board says the HSA doesn’t qualify? So if you like what you have, you can keep it until you can’t.”
Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) pressed a D.C. doctor at the townhall, who called for a greater federal role in promoting healthy behavior in low-income populations, to consider less government intervention. “If you say that these folks are victims, you’re giving them false compassion,” said Cassidy, who spent 20 years practicing at Earl K. Long Hospital in Baton Rouge.
“If we empower our patients to make the right decisions and offer distinctive incentives, financial or otherwise, to do this we’ll see very good results.”
On the Senate side, Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) this week started hosting an online show, “Senate Doctors,” that focuses on the health care policy issues being discussed on Capitol Hill.
“As a practicing physician, I know that the doctor-patient relationship is at the heart of medicine,” said Coburn, a family physician who has specialized in obstetrics. “Unfortunately, some in the Senate want to sever that relationship and put unaccountable and unqualified politicians and government bureaucrats in charge of medicine.”
“Having a government board dictate medical treatments based on abstract economic data – not medical knowledge, or years of experience – is wrong for Americans and my patients.”