Saturday, July 9, 2011

Scherz On Spying

Dr. Hal Scherz of Docs4PatientCare has a new OpEd in the 7/6/2011 Health Reform Report on the just-cancelled government "secret shopper" program.

Here's an excerpt from, "Domestic Spying on Doctors -- Who Will Be Next?":
Although this plan is ostensibly tabled for now, we must not simply let it slide by. This type of behavior is sinister and malevolent. What were HHS and the White House hoping to discover that they already didn't know?  Physicians, of course, are limiting their practices to patients whose health insurance helps them meet their basic overhead of running a practice. If they don't stay in business, patients can't be treated.

For an Administration that has recognized that there is already a doctor shortage and that patients today have to wait longer to see a doctor, it certainly is disingenuous to make a "phony" appointment for a patient and takes a slot from someone who might desperately need it.

The greater problem is not with doctors, but with a government-run healthcare system (Medicaid, Medicare, state children's health plans) that has set reimbursements so arbitrarily low, that doctors cannot rely on it to pay the bills. The solution is not to conduct survey to gather information we already know. It is to allow patients to have financial control of their healthcare. In short, the government needs to get out of the healthcare business.

The information garnered from any potential survey would have undoubtedly been used by President Obama to blame doctors for the healthcare access problem. We could then expect a heavy handed response from the government to get doctors to behave, perhaps telling them that in order to practice medicine they must accept Medicaid patients or others on government programs. This is a formula that  Massachusetts has been trying to enact since Gov. Mitt Romney implemented his health reform plan. After that, government could instruct doctors on just about anything including edicts on how many patients they see daily.

Some may think this is farfetched or paranoid. But then again, who expected Obamacare to get this far?
Doctors are right to be mistrustful, given the Administration's lack of transparency through the health care process, including how the legislation was passed with back-room deals and how ObamaCare waivers were mysteriously granted to those with political connections.

Prediction: Look for a revival of this "secret shopper" idea after the 2012 elections are over...