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How Government Killed the Medical Profession
Reason ^ | Apr. 22, 2013 | Jeffrey A. Singer

Posted on 04/23/2013 8:01:21 PM PDT by neverdem

As health care gets more bureaucratic, will doctors go Galt?

I am a general surgeon with more than three decades in private clinical practice. And I am fed up. Since the late 1970s, I have witnessed remarkable technological revolutions in medicine, from CT scans to robot-assisted surgery. But I have also watched as medicine slowly evolved into the domain of technicians, bookkeepers, and clerks. 

Government interventions over the past four decades have yielded a cascade of perverse incentives, bureaucratic diktats, and economic pressures that together are forcing doctors to sacrifice their independent professional medical judgment, and their integrity. The consequence is clear: Many doctors from my generation are exiting the field. Others are seeing their private practices threatened with bankruptcy, or are giving up their autonomy for the life of a shift-working hospital employee. Governments and hospital administrators hold all the power, while doctors—and worse still, patients—hold none.

The Coding Revolution

At first, the decay was subtle. In the 1980s, Medicare imposed price controls upon physicians who treated anyone over 65. Any provider wishing to get compensated was required to use International Statistical Classification of Diseases (ICD) and Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes to describe the service when submitting a bill. The designers of these systems believed that standardized classifications would lead to more accurate adjudication of Medicare claims.

What it actually did was force doctors to wedge their patients and their services into predetermined, ill-fitting categories. This approach resembled the command-and-control models used in the Soviet bloc and the People’s Republic of China, models that were already failing spectacularly by the end of the 1980s.

Before long, these codes were attached to a fee schedule based upon the amount of time a medical professional had to devote to each patient, a concept perilously close to another Marxist relic: the labor theory of value. Named the Resource-Based Relative Value System (RBRVS), each procedure code was assigned a specific value, by a panel of experts, based supposedly upon the amount of time and labor it required. It didn’t matter if an operation was being performed by a renowned surgical expert—perhaps the inventor of the procedure—or by a doctor just out of residency doing the operation for the first time. They both got paid the same.

Hospitals’ reimbursements for their Medicare-patient treatments were based on another coding system: the Diagnosis Related Group (DRG). Each diagnostic code is assigned a specific monetary value, and the hospital is paid based on one or a combination of diagnostic codes used to describe the reason for a patient’s hospitalization. If, say, the diagnosis is pneumonia, then the hospital is given a flat amount for that diagnosis, regardless of the amount of equipment, staffing, and days used to treat a particular patient.

As a result, the hospital is incentivized to attach as many adjunct diagnostic codes as possible to try to increase the Medicare payday. It is common for hospital coders to contact the attending physicians and try to coax them into adding a few more diagnoses into the hospital record.

Medicare has used these two price-setting systems (RBRVS for doctors, DRG for hospitals) to maintain its price control system for more than 20 years. Doctors and their advocacy associations cooperated, trading their professional latitude for the lure of maintaining monopoly control of the ICD and CPT codes that determine their payday. The goal of setting their own prices has proved elusive, though—every year the industry’s biggest trade group, the American Medical Association, squabbles with various medical specialty associations and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) over fees.

As goes Medicare, so goes the private insurance industry. Insurers, starting in the late 1980s, began the practice of using the Medicare fee schedule to serve as the basis for negotiation of compensation with the doctors and hospitals on their preferred provider lists. An insurance company might offer a hospital 130 percent of Medicare’s reimbursement for a specific procedure code, for instance.

The coding system was supposed to improve the accuracy of adjudicating claims submitted by doctors and hospitals to Medicare, and later to non-Medicare insurance companies. Instead, it gave doctors and hospitals an incentive to find ways of describing procedures and services with the cluster of codes that would yield the biggest payment. Sometimes this required the assistance of consulting firms. A cottage industry of fee-maximizing advisors and seminars bloomed.

I recall more than one occasion when I discovered at such a seminar that I was “undercoding” for procedures I routinely perform; a small tweak meant a bigger check for me. That fact encouraged me to keep one eye on the codes at all times, leaving less attention for my patients. Today, most doctors in private practice employ coding specialists, a relatively new occupation, to oversee their billing departments.

Another goal of the coding system was to provide Medicare, regulatory agencies, research organizations, and insurance companies with a standardized method of collecting epidemiological data—the information medical professionals use to track ailments across different regions and populations. However, the developers of the coding system did not anticipate the unintended consequence of linking the laudable goal of epidemiologic data mining with a system of financial reward.

This coding system leads inevitably to distortions in epidemiological data. Because doctors are required to come up with a diagnostic code on each bill submitted in order to get paid, they pick the code that comes closest to describing the patient’s problem while yielding maximum remuneration. The same process plays out when it comes to submitting procedure codes on bills. As a result, the accuracy of the data collected since the advent of compensation coding is suspect. 

Command and Control

Coding was one of the earliest manifestations of the cancer consuming the medical profession, but the disease is much more broad-based and systemic. The root of the problem is that patients are not payers. Through myriad tax and regulatory policies adopted on the federal and state level, the system rarely sees a direct interaction between a consumer and a provider of a health care good or service. Instead, a third party—either a private insurance company or a government payer, such as Medicare or Medicaid—covers almost all the costs. According to the National Center for Policy Analysis, on average, the consumer pays only 12 percent of the total health care bill directly out of pocket. There is no incentive, through a market system with transparent prices, for either the provider or the consumer to be cost-effective.

As the third party payment system led health care costs to escalate, the people footing the bill have attempted to rein in costs with yet more command-and-control solutions. In the 1990s, private insurance carriers did this through a form of health plan called a health maintenance organization, or HMO. Strict oversight, rationing, and practice protocols were imposed on both physicians and patients. Both groups protested loudly. Eventually, most of these top-down regulations were set aside, and many HMOs were watered down into little more than expensive prepaid health plans.

Then, as the 1990s gave way to the 21st century, demographic reality caught up with Medicare and Medicaid, the two principal drivers of federal health care spending. 

Twenty years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, protocols and regimentation were imposed on America’s physicians through a centralized bureaucracy. Using so-called “evidence-based medicine,” algorithms and protocols were based on statistically generalized, rather than individualized, outcomes in large population groups. 

While all physicians appreciate the development of general approaches to the work-up and treatment of various illnesses and disorders, we also realize that everyone is an individual—that every protocol or algorithm is based on the average, typical case. We want to be able to use our knowledge, years of experience, and sometimes even our intuition to deal with each patient as a unique person while bearing in mind what the data and research reveal.

Being pressured into following a pre-determined set of protocols inhibits clinical judgment, especially when it comes to atypical problems. Some medical educators are concerned that excessive reliance on these protocols could make students less likely to recognize and deal with complicated clinical presentations that don’t follow standard patterns. It is easy to standardize treatment protocols. But it is difficult to standardize patients.

What began as guidelines eventually grew into requirements. In order for hospitals to maintain their Medicare certification, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began to require their medical staff to follow these protocols or face financial retribution.

Once again, the medical profession cooperated. The American College of Surgeons helped develop Surgical Care Improvement Project (SCIP) protocols, directing surgeons as to what antibiotics they may use and the day-to-day post-operative decisions they must make. If a surgeon deviates from the guidelines, he is usually required to document in the medical record an acceptable justification for that decision.

These requirements have consequences. On more than one occasion I have seen patients develop dramatic postoperative bruising and bleeding because of protocol-mandated therapies aimed at preventing the development of blood clots in the legs after surgery. Had these therapies been left up to the clinical judgment of the surgeon, many of these patients might not have had the complication.

Operating room and endoscopy suites now must follow protocols developed by the global World Health Organization—an even more remote agency. There are protocols for cardiac catheterization, stenting, and respirator management, just to name a few.

Patients should worry about doctors trying to make symptoms fit into a standardized clinical model and ignoring the vital nuances of their complaints. Even more, they should be alarmed that the protocols being used don’t provide any measurable health benefits. Most were designed and implemented before any objective evidence existed as to their effectiveness.

A large Veterans Administration study released in March 2011 showed that SCIP protocols led to no improvement in surgical-site infection rate. If past is prologue, we should not expect the SCIP protocols to be repealed, just “improved”—or expanded, adding to the already existing glut.

These rules are being bred into the system. Young doctors and medical students are being trained to follow protocol. To them, command and control is normal. But to older physicians who have lived through the decline of medical culture, this only contributes to our angst.

One of my colleagues, a noted pulmonologist with over 30 years’ experience, fears that teaching young physicians to follow guidelines and practice protocols discourages creative medical thinking and may lead to a decrease in diagnostic and therapeutic excellence. He laments that “ ‘evidence-based’ means you are not interested in listening to anyone.” Another colleague, a North Phoenix orthopedist of many years, decries the “cookie-cutter” approach mandated by protocols.

A noted gastroenterologist who has practiced more than 35 years has a more cynical take on things. He believes that the increased regimentation and regularization of medicine is a prelude to the replacement of physicians by nurse practitioners and physician-assistants, and that these people will be even more likely to follow the directives proclaimed by regulatory bureaus. It is true that, in many cases, routine medical problems can be handled more cheaply and efficiently by paraprofessionals. But these practitioners are also limited by depth of knowledge, understanding, and experience. Patients should be able to decide for themselves if they want to be seen by a doctor. It is increasingly rare that patients are given a choice about such things.

The partners in my practice all believe that protocols and guidelines will accomplish nothing more than giving us more work to do and more rules to comply with. But they implore me to keep my mouth shut—rather than risk angering hospital administrators, insurance company executives, and the other powerful entities that control our fates.

Electronic Records and Financial Burdens

When Congress passed the stimulus, a.k.a. the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009, it included a requirement that all physicians and hospitals convert to electronic medical records (EMR) by 2014 or face Medicare reimbursement penalties. There has never been a peer-reviewed study clearly demonstrating that requiring all doctors and hospitals to switch to electronic records will decrease error and increase efficiency, but that didn’t stop Washington policymakers from repeating that claim over and over again in advance of the stimulus.

Some institutions, such as Kaiser Permanente Health Systems, the Mayo Clinic, and the Veterans Administration Hospitals, have seen big benefits after going digital voluntarily. But if the same benefits could reasonably be expected to play out universally, government coercion would not be needed. 

Instead, Congress made that business decision on behalf of thousands of doctors and hospitals, who must now spend huge sums on the purchase of EMR systems and take staff off other important jobs to task them with entering thousands of old-style paper medical records into the new database. For a period of weeks or months after the new system is in place, doctors must see fewer patients as they adapt to the demands of the technology. 

The persistence of price controls has coincided with a steady ratcheting down of fees for doctors. As a result, private insurance payments, which are typically pegged to Medicare payment schedules, have been ratcheting down as well. Meanwhile, Medicare’s regulatory burdens on physician practices continue to increase, adding on compliance costs. Medicare continues to demand that specific coded services be redefined and subdivided into ever-increasing levels of complexity. Harsh penalties are imposed on providers who accidentally use the wrong level code to bill for a service. Sometimes—as in the case of John Natale of Arlington, Illinois, who began a 10-month sentence in November because he miscoded bills on five patients upon whom he repaired complicated abdominal aortic aneurysms—the penalty can even include prison.

For many physicians in private practice, the EMR requirement is the final straw. Doctors are increasingly selling their practices to hospitals, thus becoming hospital employees. This allows them to offload the high costs of regulatory compliance and converting to EMR.

As doctors become shift workers, they work less intensely and watch the clock much more than they did when they were in private practice. Additionally, the doctor-patient relationship is adversely affected as doctors come to increasingly view their customers as the hospitals’ patients rather than their own. 

In 2011, The New England Journal of Medicine reported that fully 50 percent of the nation’s doctors had become employees—either of hospitals, corporations, insurance companies, or the government. Just six years earlier, in 2005, more than two-thirds of doctors were in private practice. As economic pressures on the sustainability of private clinical practice continue to mount, we can expect this trend to continue. 

Accountable Care Organizations

For the next 19 years, an average of 10,000 Americans will turn 65 every day, increasing the fiscal strain on Medicare. Bureaucrats are trying to deal with this partly by reinstating an old concept under a new name: Accountable Care Organization, or ACO, which harkens back to the infamous HMO system of the early 1990s. 

In a nutshell, hospitals, clinics, and health care providers have been given incentives to organize into teams that will get assigned groups of 5,000 or more Medicare patients. They will be expected to follow practice guidelines and protocols approved by Medicare. If they achieve certain benchmarks established by Medicare with respect to cost, length of hospital stay, re-admissions, and other measures, they will get to share a portion of Medicare’s savings. If the reverse happens, there will be economic penalties. 

Naturally, private insurance companies are following suit with non-Medicare versions of the ACO, intended primarily for new markets created by ObamaCare. In this model, an ACO is given a lump sum, or bundled payment, by the insurance company. That chunk of money is intended to cover the cost of all the care for a large group of insurance beneficiaries. The private ACOs are expected to follow the same Medicare-approved practice protocols, but all of the financial risks are assumed by the ACOs. If the ACOs keep costs down, the team of providers and hospitals reap the financial reward: surplus from the lump sum payment. If they lose money, the providers and hospitals eat the loss.

In both the Medicare and non-Medicare varieties of the ACO, cost control and compliance with centrally planned practice guidelines are the primary goal.

ACOs are meant to replace a fee-for-service payment model that critics argue encourages providers to perform more services and procedures on patients than they otherwise would do. This assumes that all providers are unethical, motivated only by the desire for money. But the salaried and prepaid models of provider-reimbursement are also subject to unethical behavior in our current system. There is no reward for increased productivity with the salary model. With the prepaid model there is actually an incentive to maximize profit by withholding services.

Each of these models has its pros and cons. In a true market-based system, where competition rewards positive results, the consumer would be free to choose among the various competing compensation arrangements.

With increasing numbers of health care providers becoming salaried employees of hospitals, that’s not likely. Instead, we’ll see greater bureaucratization. Hospitals might be able to get ACOs to work better than their ancestor HMOs, because hospital administrators will have more control over their medical staff. If doctors don’t follow the protocols and guidelines, and desired outcomes are not reached, hospitals can replace the “problem” doctors.

Doctors Going Galt? 

Once free to be creative and innovative in their own practices, doctors are becoming more like assembly-line workers, constrained by rules and regulations aimed to systemize their craft. It’s no surprise that retirement is starting to look more attractive. The advent of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, which put the medical profession’s already bad trajectory on steroids, has for many doctors become the straw that broke the camel’s back.

A June 2012 survey of 36,000 doctors in active clinical practice by the Doctors and Patients Medical Association found 90 percent of doctors believe the medical system is “on the wrong track” and 83 percent are thinking about quitting. Another 85 percent said “the medical profession is in a tailspin.” 65 percent say that “government involvement is most to blame for current problems.” In addition, 2 out of 3 physicians surveyed in private clinical practice stated they were “just squeaking by or in the red financially.”

A separate survey of 2,218 physicians, conducted online by the national health care recruiter Jackson Healthcare, found that 34 percent of physicians plan to leave the field over the next decade. What’s more, 16 percent said they would retire or move to part-time in 2012. “Of those physicians who said they plan to retire or leave medicine this year,” the study noted, “56% cited economic factors and 51% cited health reform as among the major factors. Of those physicians who said they are strongly considering leaving medicine in 2012, 55% or 97 physicians, were under age 55.”

Interestingly, these surveys were completed two years after a pre-ObamaCare survey reported in The New England Journal of Medicine found 46.3 percent of primary care physicians stated passage of the new health law would “either force them out of medicine or make them want to leave medicine.”

It has certainly affected my plans. Starting in 2012, I cut back on my general surgery practice. As co-founder of my private group surgical practice in 1986, I reached an arrangement with my partners freeing me from taking night calls, weekend calls, or emergency daytime calls. I now work 40 hours per week, down from 60 or 70. While I had originally planned to practice at least another 12 to 14 years, I am now heading for an exit—and a career change—in the next four years. I didn’t sign up for the kind of medical profession that awaits me a few years from now.

Many of my generational peers in medicine have made similar arrangements, taken early retirement, or quit practice and gone to work for hospitals or as consultants to insurance companies. Some of my colleagues who practice primary care are starting cash-only “concierge” medical practices, in which they accept no Medicare, Medicaid, or any private insurance.

As old-school independent-thinking doctors leave, they are replaced by protocol-followers. Medicine in just one generation is transforming from a craft to just another rote occupation.

Medicine in the Future

In the not-too-distant future, a small but healthy market will arise for cash-only, personalized, private care. For those who can afford it, there will always be competitive, market-driven clinics, hospitals, surgicenters, and other arrangements—including “medical tourism,” whereby health care packages are offered at competitive rates in overseas medical centers. Similar healthy markets already exist in areas such as Lasik eye surgery and cosmetic procedures. The medical profession will survive and even thrive in these small private niches.

In other words, we’re about to experience the two-tiered system that already exists in most parts of the world that provide “universal coverage.” Those who have the financial means will still be able to get prompt, courteous, personalized, state-of-the-art health care from providers who consider themselves professionals. But the majority can expect long lines, mediocre and impersonal care from shift-working providers, subtle but definite rationing, and slowly deteriorating outcomes.

We already see this in Canada, where cash-only clinics are beginning to spring up, and the United Kingdom, where a small but healthy private system exists side-by-side with the National Health Service, providing high-end, fee-for-service, private health care, with little or no waiting.

Ayn Rand’s philosophical novel Atlas Shrugged describes a dystopian near-future America. One of its characters is Dr. Thomas Hendricks, a prominent and innovative neurosurgeon who one day just disappears. He could no longer be a part of a medical system that denied him autonomy and dignity. Dr. Hendricks’ warning deserves repeating:

“Let them discover the kind of doctors that their system will now produce. Let them discover, in their operating rooms and hospital wards, that it is not safe to place their lives in the hands of a man whose life they have throttled. It is not safe, if he is the sort of man who resents it—and still less safe, if he is the sort who doesn’t.”  


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: medicalprofession; medicalprofessionals; medicine
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1 posted on 04/23/2013 8:01:21 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: neverdem

I take the 40,000 foot view. Medicine became too expensive because the law of supply & demand was not allowed to operate, due to the intervention of the AMA. That’s why more than 200 applicants to medschool are rejected for every one accepted. As a result, the guvmint tried their statist/librul solution, which is represented by Obamacare. Neither side has it right.


2 posted on 04/23/2013 8:08:41 PM PDT by Kevmo ("A person's a person, no matter how small" ~Horton Hears a Who)
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To: neverdem

This article is true. Do to EMR’s I have quit my private practice of 22 years. I will now work for a hospital. I will work shifts,give up the headache of worrying about overhead, have time off and make more money. Maybe, I can make it 10 years then I will go GALT!! Unless it become illegal. I would not be surprised.


3 posted on 04/23/2013 8:09:26 PM PDT by therut
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To: neverdem

Like everything else the government touches - once federal government money came pouring in (via Medicaid and Medicare) the entire system became perverted.

Once doctors and hospitals stopped looking to the patient to pay for their own health care and started looking to the governmment, the government became the boss and the one they had to please.

Look how government money has destroyed the nations schools in the same way.

Everything the government touches, it destroys.


4 posted on 04/23/2013 8:12:41 PM PDT by Iron Munro (Welcome to Obama-Land - EVERYTHING NOT FORBIDDEN IS COMPULSORY)
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To: neverdem

Again, ain’t central planning great! We’re being set up for a great Marxist fall. It never works. Ask the USSR!


5 posted on 04/23/2013 8:16:26 PM PDT by Jim Robinson (Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God!!)
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To: therut

Yep. I’m an 56 y/o anesthesiologist. because of the bullshit I’m down to working eleven weeks a year. I’ve learned to live modestly.


6 posted on 04/23/2013 8:24:23 PM PDT by outofstyle (Down All the Days)
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To: Iron Munro
Like everything else the government touches - once federal government money came pouring in (via Medicaid and Medicare) the entire system became perverted.

Look how government money has destroyed the nations schools in the same way.

Everything the government touches, it destroys.

Not just health care and education, people, too.

Government money has destroyed generations of welfare dependents.

Indeed, everything it touches...

7 posted on 04/23/2013 8:24:34 PM PDT by okie01 (The Mainstream Media: IGNORANCE ON PARADE)
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To: Iron Munro
I think it started with the WWII wage and price controls which caused employers to add health insurance as an exempt employee benefit so they could attract workers. When Johnson signed the Medicare bill on 07/30/1965, the die was cast.

Unfortunately, what's evolved over the last 70 years in no way resembles the health care system that would have evolved in a free market environment. The system we have today is unsustainable, and the only option is to let it crash and burn. A lot of people will be very unhappy when that happens.

8 posted on 04/23/2013 8:29:21 PM PDT by Sooth2222 ("Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of congress. But I repeat myself." M.Twain)
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To: neverdem

I’ve never understood why doctors did not more aggressively oppose government takeover of medicine.

If the government controls medicine, doctors will become essentially civil servants. Their compensation and working conditions will be determined by politics, not markets.


9 posted on 04/23/2013 8:33:25 PM PDT by Sherman Logan
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To: Sherman Logan
I’ve never understood why doctors did not more aggressively oppose government takeover of medicine.

Because when Lyndon Johnson's Great Society opened the floodgates of government subsidized healthcare to the poor, the going was good for those who got in on the ground floor. Private practices thrived on it. Subsequent decades saw a ballooning of "necessary infrastructure" to manage this socialized windfall, and now they're all crying because their isn't enough booty to go around. In a nutshell.
10 posted on 04/23/2013 8:46:23 PM PDT by SpaceBar
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To: neverdem

the obama admin used the coding system as the carot to get ama approval for obamacare.

either they capitulate to slavery under obamacare or their coding system would be replaced. (no money for using the codes)


11 posted on 04/23/2013 8:49:58 PM PDT by longtermmemmory (VOTE! http://www.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov)
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To: neverdem

I don’t want to hear it. The system was great as long as the doctors were milking it. All these systemic failures could have been averted had the doctors stood against them, but instead groups like the AMA pushed them along.


12 posted on 04/23/2013 8:57:27 PM PDT by freedomfiter2 (Brutal acts of commission and yawning acts of omission both strengthen the hand of the devil.)
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To: neverdem
Government interventions over the past four decades have yielded a cascade of perverse incentives, bureaucratic diktats, and economic pressures that together are forcing doctors to sacrifice their independent professional medical judgment, and their integrity...that's exactly the point - physicians had too much independence and power for the politicians - when they crave control over others as much as oxygen itself, so much power in the hands of others can only lead to envy and resentment, and the forty year quest, at least since the early seventies, to take that power unto themselves, all the while claiming they're really trying to improve medical care, has about ended with the destruction of the field by the political class....
13 posted on 04/23/2013 8:57:31 PM PDT by Intolerant in NJ
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To: neverdem

A quibble: HMOs were government creations. Ted Kennedy led the legislative charge to create and impose HMOs on private insurers. The The Health Maintenance Organization Act of 1973 (42 U.S.C. §300e) was signed into law by Richard Nixon.

Additional amendments to the law required all private insurers to offer HMO plans alongside other plans sold to employers.

Ted Kennedy and the democrats are 100% responsible for the creation and problems of HMOs.

Other than that I enjoyed the physician’s perspective on the state of medical care today. Things are going to get a lot worse, very soon.


14 posted on 04/23/2013 9:04:40 PM PDT by ElenaM
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To: longtermmemmory
either they capitulate to slavery under obamacare or their coding system would be replaced. (no money for using the codes)

The ICD is being revised as we speak, I know the project manager handling it for a large national carrier. The AMA didn't get any delay of new codes.

15 posted on 04/23/2013 9:07:01 PM PDT by ElenaM
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To: Sooth2222

It’s late, and bookmarking for later, skimming, I saw your comment.

Yes, insurance really affected health care. Philosophically, people have given their health over to the conglomerates. Formerly, people ate right and took care of themselves or got sick if they didn’t.

THe govt, BO, moved in and took over a sick system.

Our heath care system thrives on sickness, people staying sick, undergoing procedures, and giving over their health to controlling doctors, who, by the way, have not renounced abortion. They are NOt a pro life org.

People are going to have to take responsibility for their health and it’s going to freak them out.


16 posted on 04/23/2013 9:07:22 PM PDT by stanne
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To: neverdem

later


17 posted on 04/23/2013 9:13:30 PM PDT by wjcsux ("In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." - George Orwell)
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To: outofstyle

meanwhile, experienced RNs can make 108k/year woking 15 shifts per month with the VA. Go figure.


18 posted on 04/23/2013 9:16:24 PM PDT by The_Sword_of_Groo (My world view is accurately expressed in the lyrics of " The Fightin' Side of Me")
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To: Sherman Logan
I’ve never understood why doctors did not more aggressively oppose government takeover of medicine.

Doctors AND the AMA fought against Medicare very hard! It wasn't today's AMA. As a now Doc, then kid in a family of Docs, I recall my Dad and Grandfather's predictions at the time. All now true. Alas, LBJ won then upped the ante with Medicaid. Having lost the war Doctors adjusted to do the best they could for their patients and themselves. Like any Ponzi scheme those in at the beginning do well, but those far enough out are sure to lose big. But if the Ponzi is big enough they take a long time to fall and their creators escape blame, at least in this world.

BTW, bribing the AMA with CPT license fees came years later than Medicare, but at least as many years before Obamacare.

19 posted on 04/23/2013 9:26:35 PM PDT by JohnBovenmyer (Obama been Liberal. Hope Change!)
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To: Sherman Logan
I’ve never understood why doctors did not more aggressively oppose government takeover of medicine.

Doctors AND the AMA fought against Medicare very hard! It wasn't today's AMA. As a now Doc, then kid in a family of Docs, I recall my Dad and Grandfather's predictions at the time. All now true. Alas, LBJ won then upped the ante with Medicaid. Having lost the war Doctors adjusted to do the best they could for their patients and themselves. Like any Ponzi scheme those in at the beginning do well, but those far enough out are sure to lose big. But if the Ponzi is big enough they take a long time to fall and their creators escape blame, at least in this world.

BTW, bribing the AMA with CPT license fees came years later than Medicare, but at least as many years before Obamacare.

20 posted on 04/23/2013 9:27:12 PM PDT by JohnBovenmyer (Obama been Liberal. Hope Change!)
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To: Kevmo
I have never understood the AMA "trade unionism" at so drastically reducing the number of American medical students.

The result has been a flood of foreign trained doctors who qualify to practice here, over whose training the AMA has exercised '0' influence, except in after-the-fact testing.

In addition, medical schools practice the same perverse admission policies as colleges, universities, police departments, and corporate HR .... that is a normal white man has about the same chance as the old camel-through-the-eye-of-of-the-needle thing.

21 posted on 04/23/2013 9:32:05 PM PDT by Kenny Bunk (The Obama Molecule: Teflon binds with Melanin = No Criminal Charges Stick)
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To: ElenaM

I don’t think AMA gets any money out of using ICD-9 or the forthcoming disaster of ICD-10, the diagnosis coding. They get it for CPT, the procedure coding, which isn’t changing, at least not yet. AMA was foolish to go along with ICD-10 initially, and came to its senses too soon to stop it.


22 posted on 04/23/2013 9:33:15 PM PDT by JohnBovenmyer (Obama been Liberal. Hope Change!)
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To: neverdem

bookmark


23 posted on 04/23/2013 9:35:08 PM PDT by Cedar
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To: Kenny Bunk

well just watch....the national outcry for drs will begin and the govt will graciously step in and give out free rides for the blacks, and other minorities, and decrease requirements....


24 posted on 04/23/2013 9:58:58 PM PDT by cherry
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To: neverdem

The EMR (Electronic Medical Record) in Emergency Medicine reduces productivity - the number of patients who can be seen by an individual physician - by AT LEAST 30%. That is after a minimum of 3 months to become proficient with the system.

Instant Doctor shortage.

We spend 80% of our time with a mouse and keyboard, not a stethoscope, entering data into prescribed templates. Now the feds are complaining about “cookie cutter” records that they mandated.

Expect the majority of encounters to be with midlevels, because there are not enough physicians to do the mandated BS.

After 38 years in the ER, I can now see 1.3-1.5 patients per hour. 25 years ago it was 6-10. “Good enough for government work?” Oh yes, reimbursement is hovering around 25 cents on the dollar.


25 posted on 04/23/2013 11:33:33 PM PDT by daifu (Molon Labe)
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To: neverdem

In 1985 or so I heard Leonard Peikoff give a keynote speech at the annual meeting for neurosurgeons. I was a young resident at the time. He pointed out that RBRV was the lawyer’s way of “divide and conquer” and it’s purpose was to pit the specialists against the primary care docs. It worked. At the time it seemed to me that if students wanted to get into the “higher pay” fields they should have to suffer the 100+ hour weeks for years as I was doing.

Phylis Schlafly did an excellent article on the AMA and ICD several years back. Her point was essentially that the AMA had “sold out” the doctors they claimed to represent as they realized that dwindling numbers of docs joining was going to make them extinct soon if they couldn’t find a revenue source. They found gummint’s teat and have been hanging on ever since.

Myself, I started my own business several years ago. There were a number of factors but now I don’t have to deal with any of the crap that irritates most docs. I don’t have any employees, I answer my own phone, and I had to learn coding to get paid but I have to say that since I don’t need much at this point I can “make a go of it” at just about any level. Even so I have been in the red for three years (marginally) but I see it as “Going Galt”. The area I am in is saturated so I am not very busy but I keep busy with my “projects”.

When I look down the road after 30 years what I see is not pretty. Young docs are indoctrinated into believing in socialized medicine. They have no regard for what our profession has suffered to get where we were decades ago (read Paul Star’s “The Social Transformation of American Medicine) how it took DECADES to recover from the “sawbones” era following the Civil War. Will they ever pull their head out of their butts in time to prevent total collapse of our profession? I see “gumint medicine” coming and what we now call “health maintenance” will be the ONLY free service. It will be run by SEIU cliics staffed by Union Drones given a 6 week course in how to use an algorithm similar to the Army’s FM 22-20. Maybe some “minor illness” type free service (URI Viral infections, perhaps. It is cheap to have a 25 y.o. high school dropout just tell folks yuo don’t need antibiotics, the manual says so!)

Of course The Mayo and Johns Hopkins will be there for “cash only” or the “politician’s insurance plan” which will be the ONLY one left.

Years ago I said (posted here), “We are approaching a day when abortion will be easily available on Main Street but Lipitor will only be available in alleys and handed through car windows.” We are almost there.


26 posted on 04/24/2013 3:02:44 AM PDT by wastoute (Government cannot redistribute wealth. Government can only redistribute poverty.)
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To: Sherman Logan

To become a doctor you have to spend so long in schoool that you are brainwashed by the commie professors completely before you can get anywhere near an exit.


27 posted on 04/24/2013 3:04:10 AM PDT by wastoute (Government cannot redistribute wealth. Government can only redistribute poverty.)
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To: freedomfiter2

The AMA hasn’t represented docs for decades. Read the Phylis Schlafly article I referenced above. When I was a resident it was down to 40 percent (that was decades ago), at the time she wrote the article IIRC it was down to 17%. They saw they had no future unless they did something. Selling out was what they did.


28 posted on 04/24/2013 3:06:47 AM PDT by wastoute (Government cannot redistribute wealth. Government can only redistribute poverty.)
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To: The_Sword_of_Groo

LOL. Really. If you want a good future in Medicne, get a BSRN. 4 years at the bedside and then presto, bureaucrat. With 6 figure salary, weekends and nights off and you spend all your time telling doctors what to do.


29 posted on 04/24/2013 3:11:25 AM PDT by wastoute (Government cannot redistribute wealth. Government can only redistribute poverty.)
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To: daifu

“Once upon a time” I used to moonlight in ERs. I could see 60 or more patients in a twelve hour shift. Back then the nurses helped a lot. Over time the nurses refused to do more and more and the doctor had to pick up the dropped ball. Documentation requirements became more important then time with the patient. Prgressively, things got worse and worse. The last time I left an ER I swore I would never go back.


30 posted on 04/24/2013 3:15:55 AM PDT by wastoute (Government cannot redistribute wealth. Government can only redistribute poverty.)
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To: Kevmo
"That’s why more than 200 applicants to medschool are rejected for every one accepted."

Yup, and that has been going on for a LONG time. Back in the mid-1960's, my cousin and I started college together. I was then in engineering, and he pre-med. He did wonderfully on all his medical-related (comparative anatomy, microbiology, etc., etc.) courses, but due to a poor school background in math, did poorly on a couple of physics courses. Those low grades in physics kept him out of med school.

31 posted on 04/24/2013 4:52:46 AM PDT by Wonder Warthog
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To: neverdem
Yes, and can a general surgeon practice "concierge care"? Even this doctor is failing to see the true ghastly nature of our health care catastrophe.

Nope, a surgeon cannot operate out of a clinic, except for some low-risk orthopedics and such like. He needs a hospital, with all that infrastructure of operating rooms, OR nurses and technicians, hosptial-owned equipment. Hundreds of millions of dollar, and it all must be maintained and administered for yet more millions.

Have spent many years on FR trying to persuade people that "doctor bills" are not their problem. "Hospital bills" are. Haven't made a dent yet. I still hear complaints about greedy doctors. Well, they won't be around to complain about much longer.

32 posted on 04/24/2013 7:25:53 AM PDT by Mamzelle
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To: neverdem
Yes, and can a general surgeon practice "concierge care"? Even this doctor is failing to see the true ghastly nature of our health care catastrophe.

Nope, a surgeon cannot operate out of a clinic, except for some low-risk orthopedics and such like. He needs a hospital, with all that infrastructure of operating rooms, OR nurses and technicians, hosptial-owned equipment. Hundreds of millions of dollar, and it all must be maintained and administered for yet more millions.

Have spent many years on FR trying to persuade people that "doctor bills" are not their problem. "Hospital bills" are. Haven't made a dent yet. I still hear complaints about greedy doctors. Well, they won't be around to complain about much longer.

33 posted on 04/24/2013 7:25:53 AM PDT by Mamzelle
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To: Kevmo
Nonsense. Typical "guild mentality caused the problem because I'm so smart but I couldn't get into med school." We hire hundreds of foreign docs every year because we cannot *afford* to educate more doctors.

It's easy to get into law school. They are not as expensive to maintain as a teaching hospital. That's why we have so many lawyers rotting and stinking up the country. See my post above. It's all about the infrastructure. Doctors must have hospitals to treat the sick. It's more than clinical care.

34 posted on 04/24/2013 7:29:19 AM PDT by Mamzelle
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To: daifu

Yeah, but just seeing one patient an hour (and that one some creep trying to lie his way into a narcotics prescription, and taking up your whole hour...my idea, call the cops. You ER docs need to start sending your patients to jail)...you have a much lower risk of a malpractice lawsuit than if you worked to your full potential. let that lawyer with the kidney stone sit out in the waiting room for TWO DAYs.


35 posted on 04/24/2013 7:33:03 AM PDT by Mamzelle
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To: Mamzelle

Typical “guild mentality caused the problem because I’m so smart but I couldn’t get into med school.”
***My turn to call nonsense. It’s the AMA which determines how many med schools there are. They could double the number of med schools and not reduce the quality of care. The number of slots are artificially kept low so that doctors are in high demand in this country.

We hire hundreds of foreign docs every year because we cannot *afford* to educate more doctors.
***Sure we can. Those foreign docs come from places that can barely afford to dig a well for water, yet they keep open reasonably good med schools.


36 posted on 04/24/2013 8:47:08 AM PDT by Kevmo ("A person's a person, no matter how small" ~Horton Hears a Who)
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To: Kevmo
So, you fork over the hundreds of million, more like billions to create these medical schools. Start amed school if you think all that's standing in the way is a pusillanimous AMA.

I appeal to those who have some sense. Look at a law school. Classrooms, teachers, $40.k a year. Look at what it takes to educate a doctor, pharmacist, nurse or PA. A vast technological enterprise with a pool of interesting patients.

But what I meet are those who think they were smart enough for med school and the Guild kept them out.

Once again, we import doctors by the hundreds from other countries, and the "guild" didn't keep THEM out.

37 posted on 04/24/2013 1:49:51 PM PDT by Mamzelle
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To: Mamzelle

Other countries can afford it, then so can we. It’s the AMA stopping it.


38 posted on 04/24/2013 2:24:55 PM PDT by Kevmo ("A person's a person, no matter how small" ~Horton Hears a Who)
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To: Kevmo
You assume that the AMA operates in the interest of doctors. It does not. It operates for its own internal bureaucracy's interests. They sell out doctors if its in their interest. For instance, it sold out doctors to Obamacare because it possesses the patent for a kind of coding, billing and chart-keeping software that Doctors hate (see ER doc above).

It's true that other countries can educate doctors cheaply, but they execute lawyers. No, not really *execute* but they don't allow lawyers to run the country for *their* own interests the way the US and RINOs and Democrats do. Be thankful that they do educate these doctors, or our shortage would be worse than it is.

One thing they test for on the MedCat is linear reasoning. "We have a shortage of doctors because the AMA is a guild that limits the number of doctors" is a sign of very poor reasoning and likely poor intellect. Have you thought of applying to law school?

39 posted on 04/24/2013 3:56:47 PM PDT by Mamzelle
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To: Mamzelle

You assume that the AMA operates in the interest of doctors.
***I do not assume it. I have observed it.

They sell out doctors if its in their interest.
***You’ll need a lot more examples if you’re going to counteract 60 years of advocacy for Doctors above all others in medicine.

One thing they test for on the MedCat is linear reasoning. “We have a shortage of doctors because the AMA is a guild that limits the number of doctors” is a sign of very poor reasoning and likely poor intellect. Have you thought of applying to law school?
***Ever hear of Occham’s Razor? This is inductive reasoning, not deductive nor linear reasoning.


40 posted on 04/24/2013 4:15:58 PM PDT by Kevmo ("A person's a person, no matter how small" ~Horton Hears a Who)
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To: Kevmo
Occam's Razor (that's how it's spelled) is about drawing the most likely conclusion, often the true one but not necessarily so... linear reasoning is both deduction and inductive.

But lawyers reason by Edward's Razor (John Edwards). That is, life is a lot more pleasant and lucrative when you have someone to blame for disappointment. You want to blame the AMA for your failure to get into med school. I'm no fan of the AMA, but they had nothing to do with your failure.

The AMA is not unlike any other institution, it exists to serve itself and its officers. Currently it is greedily exploiting Obama's willingness to let those officers get rich and powerful from a piece of software. It is chrony capitalism at work. The AMA supported Obama care, and Obama helps force doctors to use the AMA's software.

41 posted on 04/24/2013 6:10:16 PM PDT by Mamzelle
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To: Mamzelle

Occam’s Razor (that’s how it’s spelled)
***Triviality is the sign of a weak mind. From Wikipedia:

Occam’s razor (also written as Ockham’s razor from William of Ockham,

linear reasoning is both deduction and inductive.
***Please, please take a writing class. Are you trying to say it is both deductive and inductive? Or... both deduction and induction? The latter is more stupid than the former, so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. Basically you are engaging the classic fallacy of obfuscation, not addressing the matter at hand and diverting to a different subject. The matter at hand is that this is an inductive area of pursuit. You can try to plug the square peg of “linear reasoning” into the round hole of inductive reasoning but you’re not even close to accomplishing that goal.

But lawyers reason by Edward’s Razor (John Edwards).
***Again, the classic fallacy of obfuscation.

That is, life is a lot more pleasant and lucrative when you have someone to blame for disappointment.
***classic fallacy of poisoning the well

You want to blame the AMA for your failure to get into med school.
***Another classic fallacy, arguing from silence, as well as ignorance. I NEVER wanted to get into med school. I wanted and got into engineering school. So, you don’t know what you’re talking about, and you’re proceeding from ignorance and the silence (of not knowing) of the evidence. It’s amazing how many fallacies you have piled up in this short discourse.

I’m no fan of the AMA, but they had nothing to do with your failure.
***Since I never failed to get into med school, your argument is utterly moot and, once again, employs classic fallacies.

The AMA is not unlike any other institution, it exists to serve itself and its officers.
***Like any other institution, if it steps over the line and starts working against its original purpose, it will destroy itself. Like the bible says, “a house divided cannot stand”.

Currently it is greedily exploiting Obama’s willingness to let those officers get rich and powerful from a piece of software.
***You’re focused on one piece of software rather than 60 years of advocacy. It is but a minor exception in light of those 60 years of effort.

It is chrony capitalism at work. The AMA supported Obama care, and Obama helps force doctors to use the AMA’s software.
***The AMA got cornered into allowing Obamacare to pass. The reason why they were cornered is that they allowed the costs of medicine to rise so high and so fast that the guvmint stepped in. 40,000 foot view. From that high up, your software example is invisible.


42 posted on 04/24/2013 8:21:35 PM PDT by Kevmo ("A person's a person, no matter how small" ~Horton Hears a Who)
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To: Kevmo
I'm sorry all the engineering schools rejected you. Although I don't know how that happened, since educating an engineer is less expensive than educating a nurse. All that junk would be quite impressive, except that I can pick it up with a few searches. Plagiarism won't get you into engineering school.

The AMA is still not a guild.

43 posted on 04/24/2013 8:39:23 PM PDT by Mamzelle
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To: Kevmo

Agh. The only thing more tiresome than a lawyerly venality is the Asperger’s syndrome of obsessive and poorly productuve engineers...


44 posted on 04/24/2013 8:45:56 PM PDT by Mamzelle
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To: Mamzelle

I’m sorry all the engineering schools rejected you.
***One of the reasons why we can all see that you engage in fallacious reasoning is due to your utterly poor reading skills. I said that I applied and got into engineering school. You read the exact opposite. There will no doubt be other examples of the poor reading and poor reasoning skills.

All that junk would be quite impressive, except that I can pick it up with a few searches. Plagiarism won’t get you into engineering school.
***Again, obfuscation, your favored classical fallacy.

The AMA is still not a guild.
***Provide some evidence and maybe I’ll follow it and go along with it. But at this point what you say is just an opinion, seeming to derive from some stupid software thing. Learn some reasoning skills. Take a writing class.

The AMA is still not a guild.


45 posted on 04/24/2013 8:51:49 PM PDT by Kevmo ("A person's a person, no matter how small" ~Horton Hears a Who)
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To: Mamzelle

Likewise, prince. ~Hidalgo


46 posted on 04/24/2013 8:54:48 PM PDT by Kevmo ("A person's a person, no matter how small" ~Horton Hears a Who)
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To: Kevmo

Get some treatment for that Aspergers. I hear Prozac is sometimes helpful.


47 posted on 04/25/2013 2:46:17 PM PDT by Mamzelle
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To: Mamzelle

Take that writing class. I hear people learn to think more clearly when they lose their affinity for classic fallacies.


48 posted on 04/25/2013 5:57:59 PM PDT by Kevmo ("A person's a person, no matter how small" ~Horton Hears a Who)
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To: neverdem

Bump for tomorrow...


49 posted on 04/25/2013 6:22:00 PM PDT by Senator_Blutarski
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To: Kevmo
Well, we don't want another obsessive compulsive engineer, wild with his own bitter fantasies, flying a plane into an Austin governement building... Maundering and fretting and obsessing that the AMA (which I happen to know is dominated by lazy, greedy, self-serving fools) has enough power to control how many doctors are in the USA--

The AMA doesn't care about doctors any more than the AARP cares about seniors.

The number of doctors is controlled by the extreme expense of educating them. Luckily we can attract foreign educated doctors, but they don't speak good English, and not a few end up terrorists.

Another thing that is challenging the number is how many women MDs we now have who do not want to work the kind of hours men were wont to work. And the fiftyish docs now plan much earlier retirements.

I've known my share of engineers, too, who partied when they should have been memorizing pathways for organic chemistry. Make a C, lose out on med school.

Of course, there's a lawyer on this thread who knows that you don't have to take any math or science, can major in Queer Studies, and still get into a law school. That's how so many cowardly losers become lawyers.

50 posted on 04/25/2013 8:03:46 PM PDT by Mamzelle
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