Earlier this month, President Obama held a press conference at the White House with white coated physicians in his push for a government overhaul of the nation’s health care system. Though the presence of physicians in support of the Democrats’ plans for health care “reform” created the illusion that the medical profession is in strong support of the legislation, it remained just that—an illusion. Recent reports show that the health care legislation does not have the broad support among physicians.
A poll by The Medicus Firm posted in the New England Journal of Medicine‘s CareerCenter shows that, on virtually every count, physicians understand and don’t like the congressional legislation. 62.7 percent of physicians feel that health reform is needed but should be implemented in a more targeted, gradual way; just the opposite of the sweeping overhaul embodied in the massive congressional legislation. Indeed, 46.3 percent of primary care physicians feel that “the passing of health reform will either force them out of medicine or make them want to leave medicine.”
On March 10th, 15 state and national medical specialty organizations representing 85,000 physicians across the nation wrote a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader John Boehner voicing their opposition to the Senate bill (H.R. 3590), which the House is expected to vote on later this week. Liberals in and out of Congress, meanwhile, have been insisting that their legislative handiwork has enjoyed the support of the ten largest doctor organizations in the country.
Physician opposition is understandable. Heritage economist Robert Book describes how, against the better interests of physicians and their patients, Americans may end up with government-run health care even without the public option
Both the Senate and House bills give unprecedented levels of control to federal bureaucrats to pre-empt patient choice and block competitive innovation. The House bill would create a new federal office — a “Health Choices Commissioner” — to make health choices for the entire nation, specifying precisely what services health plans must cover, may cover, and (perhaps) must not cover. The Senate bill would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to define precisely the services that health plans must cover.
Doctors are clearly opposed to congressional health legislation. There is a better way. If Congress were to pursue patient-centered health care reform, doctors could rest assured that their patients, their practices, and their profession remained in good hands—their own.
Vivek Rajasekhar currently is a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/About/Internships-Young-Leaders/The-Heritage-Foundation-Internship-Program