Archive for June 9, 2009
Health Care Reform Update: What Do Doctors Think About Health Care Reform?
by Alta Price, M.D.
Although I am a physician, I would never presume to speak for all physicians. For one thing, I am far more liberal than most people, including most doctors. But it is my impression that most doctors are frustrated with the system we have now, and want significant changes. As you might imagine, they vary widely on the approaches they favor, all the way from single-payer to free-market solutions. I think doctors are not that different than everyone else, and most would support something in the middle, similar to what the Obama Administration is advocating (a mixture of public and private plans, with a strong new public plan option).
Physicians have a unique position in the health care system, as they are concerned both about providing high quality, affordable care to their patients, at the same time as they need to be concerned about the costs of running a medical practice. The system is much more complicated than most people realize, and doctors worry about unintended consequences of well-meaning reform proposals. For example, if the new public plan option is letting people opt into Medicare, will there be any reform of Medicare provider payments that unfairly penalize doctors in rural states (including Iowa)? Doctors also have intimate knowledge about the ways the current system wastes money, and their input could help save taxpayers and consumers a tremendous amount of money.
Physicians are accustomed to letting their professional organizations speak for them. My message to physicians is that they need to act more at the grassroots level, where they can share their personal experiences and concerns with their legislators and their local communities. I have been gratified by how thoughtful most doctors are about these issues, and the wealth of knowledge they can bring to the discussion.
Last Sunday, June 7, the Quad-City Times ran a guest editorial by Dr. Mark Milleman, President of the Scott County Medical Society, and a guest editorial by Dr. Robert Milas, President of the Rock Island County Medical Society (in Illinois) on the topic of health care reform. As I had encouraged them in these efforts, naturally I was gratified that they are trying to let the community know what many of the members of their medical societies think about health care reform.
An interesting group of physicians concerned about health care reform is Doctors for America. This is a group that grew out of Doctors for Obama, and they know about grassroots organizing! The link I included is to Doctors for America’s Resource Center. For an added treat for Deaniacs, if you scroll down the page you’ll find a webcast with the founder of the real DFA! (The sound quality actually improves around 5.30 – until then it is hard to make out what is being said.)
I have tried to convey my impression as to what most doctors think about health care reform – comprehensive reform is needed, it is complicated, and (like everyone else) they have a variety of ideas about how to get there. But if you really want an answer to the question, ask doctors you know what they think about the issue. You might find it interesting!
Following up on my Health Care Reform Update from last week on the Administration’s briefing of America’s mayors, it turns out that the health care resolution we want to take to our city councils is not yet in final form. It will be discussed and voted on at the United States Conference of Mayors next weekend. We hope to get a copy of it shortly thereafter.
Price is a physician practicing Pathology in Davenport, Iowa. One of
the original Deaniacs, she stays involved with Democracy for America,
Iowa, and the Quad Cities. She advocates for quality, affordable health
care for all, primarily as a volunteer with Progressive Action for the
Common Good (Health Care Reform Issue Forum). Watch for Dr. Price's Health Care Reform Update every Tuesday here on Blog for Iowa. E-Mail Alta Price