Critical Condition

Docs vs. Obamacare

A doctor e-mails:

Ms. Lopez,

I am a family physician in a solo practice who lays awake at night trying to figure out how I will survive healthcare reform.

As far as I can tell, the current plans do nothing to reduce the complexity of the system, but everything to make it more complex. Congress already passed measures in the stimulus bill that will make it more difficult for me to do my job by increasing paperwork and documentation in order to get paid for what I do. I already spend an average of 3-4 hours a day after my office closes to complete documentation and paper work – most of it to comply with Medicare guidelines and rules. There is no way I can squeeze more hours out of the day in order to accommodate reform. Add to that the very real likelihood that I will end up being reimbursed less per patient encounter – I just can’t see how my practice can survive.

Because I am a solo practice physician, I am also in the unenviable position of being a small business owner. I foresee a world of hurt for my practice if the current insurance mandates and penalties that are being bandied about come to fruition. ( I do provide health insurance for my employees, but I can not afford to cover their families. I can barely afford to cover my own family.)

I will be surprised if there are any practices like mine left when all is said and done. We will be left with a corps of employed physicians whose main loyalty will be not to their patients, but to their employer – most likely hospital “health systems”. More attention will be paid to dotting every “i” and crossing every “t” in the chart to meet government guidelines

and ensure maximum reimbursement, and less attention will be paid to actually doing the work of treating the patient and choosing the right treatment for that individual. We will all be assimilated. God help us.

Pennie Marchetti, MD

P.S.

The doctors at the Rose Garden meeting do not represent the majority of  practicing physicians. According to this press release they were largely made up of leaders of organized medicine. The very leaders who sold us out at the beginning of the year when they sat down with the President at the bargaining table with the insurance and  pharmaceutical industry and promised to save the system billions of dollars.